Summer keeps threatening to take a leave of absence – and then changes its mind, coming back with gusto. One day it’s cloudy, rainy, muggy (thoughts turn to pies and crumble), but then the hot sun returns and it’s ice-lollies and barbecues. The social media feeds are still full of holidays, glamping and festivals – no-one seems to be fully at work. And I know that I should be dealing with the back garden in the new house but really, it’s all I can do to manage a spot of allotment weeding. This late summer heaviness is preventing anything getting done. More than once this week I’ve heard people yearn for autumn, for the kids to get back to school and life to get back to normal.
Well, it’s nearly here folks. For every hot pink zinnia and bright sunflower that I’m picking, there’s a bunch of burnished crysanthemums, punnet of deep crimson autumn raspberries and bags of mustardy wintery leaves. I came home on Tuesday with an actual armful of flowers (and yes, I did feel more than a little smug).
The hops have been quietly coming along, and the cones are nearly ready to harvest. One of the plants totally failed to grow this year and the other has shed half its leaves, but the crop itself is larger than ever.
The sweetcorn aren’t quite ready to pick but are nearly there – this late summer sun will do them good, boosting the sugar levels. Planted in their geometric grids they add a rare touch of order to the plot, which I enjoy.
I’m so pleased with the winter chicory, which is really starting to establish themselves. Last year we had leaves from September through to March – brilliant – so I’ve planted two varieties this year: red Treviso and a variegated Castelfranco. The slug got a few but they seem to be growing back vigorously, the mark of a true cut-and-come-again plant.
Along with pumpkins, plums and apples, aubergines say autumn to me. Look at this gorgeous specimen – skinny but dark, with a mottled shine finish.
The long view gives us that late August, early September quandary: summer or autumn?
Harvesting: Last courgettes (thank God), autumn-winter lettuce, rocket, reine du glace lettuce, green beans (but hardly any of these), cavolo nero, frills of hex kale, chillies, tomatoes, raspberries (loads), cosmos, sunflowers, crysanthemums, zinnia