There is so much ‘stuff’ going on at the moment. My mind has been (still is) tormented by the outside world, by heinous crimes against women, by leaders who fail to lead, by the climate emergency, by the inequality I see all around me. This stuff is there all the time, of course, but usually it can be held at a distance. Sometimes however the walls come down; I can not be the only woman who cried in the last week for Sarah Everard, for Terri Harris and her children, for Sabina Nessa and their families. And I certainly hope that I am not the only one who has used their influence to write to their MP and other elected representatives to demand they listen to what women are telling them about domestic and sexual violence. If this issue speaks to you, you can do worse than pay attention to what the Women’s Equality Party are doing and saying: https://www.womensequality.org.uk
How can I think, let alone write, of flowers and vegetables at such a time? It turns out that I must, because this is where healing lies.
October is the new August, or it least it is in 2021. After months and months of waiting, finally we have the annual courgette glut; we’ve had courgette with pasta, courgette with spicy tomato sauce, stir-fried courgette, roasted courgette, plus courgette that’s given away. I’m unusually grateful for the abundance of squash, for I thought it may never come. The varieties that I chose this year – Rugosa Fruilana and Genovese, both from Seeds of Italy – have been slow to turn to marrows and I particularly love the knobbly gourd-like appearance of the former.
Then there’s the raspberries. After a week away from the plot due to work, illness and childcare, I presumed that I’d missed the last of them – but not a bit of it. This is just one day’s picking and I think there’s STILL more to come.
The September and October cutting garden is a particular joy. It’s the time of the sunflowers, so majestic, but the smaller side-heads also do well in a posy-style arrangement with lime-green chrysanthemums and orange cactus dahlias. Yellow, orange, bronze, gold; it’s a table full of autumnal sunshine.
The cosmos plants got flattened in the late September storms, and so the flowers are now growing at an angle as they make their way up towards the sun. It makes for a floppy vase which actually I adore, the flowers twisting like snakes as they lobby each other for space.
Fresh flowers are only half the story of course, for the sun room (aka the drying room) is now fill to bursting. Fennel stalks, with their starburst umbellifer flower heads, join the teasels, hops, hydrangeas, rose hips and cornflowers, waiting to fulfil their purpose in the winter days ahead.
It’s harvest time but actually my head is already months ahead, thinking of next spring. An embarrassingly enormous box of bulbs was delivered this week, tulips, daffodils and crocus destined for the garden, for pots and for the allotment. There’s days of clearing and weeding to be done, and a pallet manure to collect and spread. It’s hard work but it’s good work; after the frustrations and urgency of summer, these tasks for autumn and winter allow for a more relaxed approach. We can celebrate success but also put away the failures, literally cover everything over, until we get another go, next time. Rest, renewal, redemption.
Also this week:
Harvesting: Courgette, raspberries, chard, French beans, cavolo nero, kale, last of the sunflowers, cosmos, dahlias, last ammi visnaga, fennel stems for drying. Also took home eggs from chickens at the house that Hannah is house-sitting for, including one still hot from the hen’s bottom.
Garden: Planted out back bed with narcissus actaea, ferns and alchemilla mollis. Potted up narcissi and crocus; will leave tulips for a few weeks more.
Cooking and eating: Speedy late night supper of courgette in spicy chipotle tomato sauce with eggs, smashed avocado and brown rice. Sticky sweet and sour sausages with plums. Pie and chips in Ludlow.
Also: Ludlow (sad to see that our favourite butcher has closed due to fire); Cheltenham Literature Festival (a joy after so long away from events); been ill again; work work work.