In the basket are the last of the carrots, Manchester; a decent all-rounder, but they haven’t shaken my faith in James Scarlet Intermediate, an old Victorian variety, and Jaune de Doubes, a legal immigrant, my current favourites. Along side them are a heap of two climbing beans, Stortino di Trento, the stripy ones, and a few Meraviglia di Venezia, the flat yellow jobs. The Stortino di Trento are very decorative (although the stripes disappear on cooking) and placidly agreeable, but the Meraviglia di Venezia is one of the greats of the bean world, fruity, buttery, more fun than the ubiquitous runner, and very rarely stringy no matter how large they grow.
I have a few winter salads things left, the odd sorrel plant bravely soldiering on, and a little chard, but that’s it for another year. To be honest, it’s a relief. I want a rest from anxiety, standing guard against slugs, snails and the neighbourhood cats that have taken to use my garden as their lavatory; not to mention the gap between my dreams and the stern realities; not to mention the fierce competition I have with my friend, Stevie. Let everything run to seed. I don’t care.
But come January, I’ll have forgotten all that. Visions of vegetable delight will again dance in my head, and I’ll start searching the seed catalogues and on-line sites with fresh (delusory) optimism.
As the great American writer, Henry David Thoreau, wrote ‘Though I do not believe that a plant will spring up where no seed has been, I have great faith in a seed …Convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders.’ Sound man, Thoreau. Clearly knew his veg. I expect wonders.