Clear and present: knocking the plot into shape | Gardening advice

Howard and I are here to clear. The taller sunflowers are swooning, leaves hanging limp like handkerchiefs. Many of the saffron robe tagetes are bent out of shape. The morning glory structures have had their day. The allotment is in need of intervention.

Hoes and rakes, secateurs, sharp knives, good string: the garden tools of October. I hoe the grass around the edges and between the seedling runs. We pull the ipomoea tents, one now flattened by the brutal courgette.

It is quick work, though we’ll leave the vines to die back before attempting to pry morning glory fingers off the sticks. We tie up falling sunflowers and loop a few tall corn together. Some are standing 4m high.

We pull a few of the faltering Hopi red amaranth. We save crimson orache seed. There are short rows of chervil, chard, red treviso chicories, kales and parsley in the new beds, though the baby plants are still small. Another inch or two taller and we’ll dot them through the newly hoed space.

I have scattered fast wild rocket in patches at the bottom of the plot. There are hundreds of nameless seedlings elsewhere that must be self-sown. Of course, Howard is convinced it’s me.

Slugs and snails are everywhere now. I find them feasting on the chard leaves. Nestled deep into the puntarelle.

The soil is improved, though we are still short on worms. We’ll try to fix it over winter. Maybe start by ordering in more manure.

We clear through clutter and shade. We deconstruct the space. We cut the larger Ukrainian pumpkin, leaving the smaller one in situ, trimming back any covering leaf.

We build a cradle from sweet pea sticks, about a foot off the ground. The bigger pumpkin will, we hope, be happy here, safely curing in the sunny spot at the top of the plot. Content now, we head home with armfuls of orange marigolds.

Allan Jenkins’s Plot 29 (4th Estate, £9.99) is out now. Order it for £8.49 from

Follow Allan on Instagram @allanjenkins21

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *