As I arrived at the allotment the other day, a moving shadow caught my eye on the muck heap that lies in a strip between the fence and the outside lane by the gate. It turned out to be a fox, its coat perfectly blending with the autumn colours of its surroundings. As evening approaches, I hear the familiar but somewhat eerie sound that the foxes make. They play-fight and scrabble through the undergrowth in what I call ‘no man’s land’, beyond a fence at the back of my shed. It adds to a growing sense of wildness about the place as winter approaches and the days become shorter.
The plot, however, is still looking unusually green for the time of year. As ever, nasturtiums have become rampant and I am awaiting their dramatic collapse as soon as the first frost arrives. In the meantime, they make a good crop to eat when most of the summer vegetables have come to an end. The warm autumn weather has meant that there are still a few French beans to harvest and a courgette continues to flower, albeit producing little fruit.
On each visit to the plot, I take away a handful of kale and chard, sorrel and nettles for making soup, herbs, a parsnip or two and Jerusalem artichokes. At home, I have the remainder of my potatoes, onions and garlic, plus redcurrants, cooked beetroot and blanched beans in the freezer. There is also one very large pumpkin.
It’s the flowers though that are stealing the show. The two dahlia Café au Lait plants are continuing to produce one great bloom after another and the cosmos too, grown from seed in the spring, are flowering prolifically. A swathe of delicate, white petals gleam brilliantly in the autumn sunlight against a backdrop of gold and orange nasturtiums, while bees carry on collecting pollen for as long as the weather allows.