The best-planted plans… This is a return to the allotment after near three weeks away. I had put in the work. I had weeded and fed, I had sowed new rows and organised watering cover (thank you, Lene). Howard had promised to pop in.
The salads were all up before I went, the peas and beans were adolescent, there was coriander, and fresh leaves and early potatoes: the bright, light tastes of summer. So why do I feel so guilty as I walk towards the plot on my first early mid-June morning after being away?
The broad beans I left for Lene are grown fat and mealy, as big as a toddler’s arm. Salads have flowered and bolted. The nasturtiums are smothering the sweet peas. All of course my fault.
Weeds are leering everywhere. The garlic, shallots and onions are fallen, almost all rotted by wet. The plot looks sad, abandoned as though I have left it far too long.
You see, I think a relationship with a garden is like any other in your life. It relies on loving care and constant attention. Plus, I hadn’t reckoned on the rain.
I wheelbarrow away weeds, bolted leaves and overblown beans. I clear room for the plot to breathe and sow new rows. I pull and prune. I largely start again.
I sow carrots for autumn, regular beetroots and ‘Chioggia’ too, fresh tagetes, new nasturtiums. I move the summer squash from their nursery spot and add a new piquant dill. I scatter a square with red-veined rocket. I soak the land in seaweed feed. I put in the hours that are owed. I (mostly) quietly plead for forgiveness.
I am lucky it is midsummer, I think it will work. It already looks a little happier. Is it possible land purrs when I am here and may fret when I am away? Does it ‘know’ who I am? Perhaps only time will tell.
Allan Jenkins’s Morning (4th Estate, £8.99) is out now. Order it for £7.91 from guardianbookshop.com