Pumpkins sprawl amid the ghosts of summer’s beans and peas

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The Guardian

October: the return of the winter constellations, the end of summertime. Our gardening and nights now drawing in. A time to gather seed.

A month to dig – or not, depending on your gardening style. We will turn over some of this year’s ‘new’ soil. See how it’s changed over summer. We’ll give the plot a rough tidy. Like my mum’s homemade haircuts. How we dreaded them.

We’ll think about adding more organic manure. Maybe horse muck or even cow if we are lucky. I have hopeful feelers out with friend and farmer Jane Scotter. We are keen on adding more soil structure.

I both dread and love this time of year. The stark autumn silhouettes. The ghosts of summer’s French beans and peas, the sunflower skeletons. The question of when best to store the hazel poles. All to be faced this month.

I’m still undecided about over-wintering broad beans, garlic and onion sets. I’ll discuss with Howard. We have homes to find for new bird houses. We’ll take the last summer seedbags home from the shed.

Our coriander, amaranth and orache (our ‘every-year seed’) is drying now. Its seed to be sorted over the next few months over winter. We’ll add Mexican cosmos, dill and calendula.

I have loved the late Hydra-headed, rust-coloured sunflowers, but next year we’ll focus on a purer yellow. Though as with all my early plans I’m as likely to relent.

Our three pumpkins, a belated first for us, will be cut and cured. They’ve spread like burst riverbanks. Silvering leaves and vines encroaching on our neighbours.

The courgettes are climbing. Though nothing compares to the morning glory. This my favourite of the Ukrainian seed this year. Greedy grasping vines. Perfect flowers, from a rich deep purple to a super delicate lavender stripe.

We’ll look to save a pumpkin for Halloween. A candlelight of thanks in the coming night to mark the turn of the garden year.

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

Follow Allan on Instagram @allanjenkins21

October 2, 2022 at 11:03AM Allan Jenkins

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