Dandelion Summer

What grows well in cold wet soil? At my allotment not very much. I have that November feeling. Not only the self preservation instinct to reach for hat and gloves before going outside, but also the feeling of sadness that comes with the end of the growing season – seeing hard work succumb to winter cold. It seems natural to want to find comfort indoors and forget. Or put another way, the hedonistic side of me that searches for all things fun is thinking tea and telly.

Plants in my plastic growhouse are looking very downbeat. Usually their stems and leaves are pushing up through the holes in the shelf above. The best plants this summer are ones with any healthy leaves at all. The warm kitchen window sill I use to start germination has now become a forest. My cucumber plants are still cramped in their germination pots. They are now actually in fruit with baby cucumbers. Ditto with tomato seedlings that are over a metre high and in full flower. All need transplanting to their proper growing positions, but moving outside would mean certain death.

A good news list? Our leeks are looking quite healthy, and I’m hoping that our Scottish raspberries canes are now feeling very much at home on my allotment in Berkshire. It seems these plants are particularly enjoying the rain. I’m also very hopeful for our potatoes. It seems a long time ago now, but when I planted them in the deep trench I was worried that the soil I covered them with was too dry. How quickly things change! And I’ve also enjoyed how little weeds have been growing this year, evidence itself that Spring has been difficult.

But what has cheered me up the most have been the dandelions. They seem to have had an amazing time, wet cloudy weather seems to have suited them fine as this picture at our local park shows. Walking home one day I realised just how beautiful dandelions can be, creating a canvas of yellow with green. And that inspired this thought: perhaps this is a dandelion summer? One where there is nothing to do but wait and blow dandelion seed heads into the wind. After all, warm sunny weather surely will arrive soon?


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