Having your cake and not eating it.


My first visit to the allotment for a while.

Summer’s overspilled. Frothed up and over the edge.

So much green, it could never be eaten.

A complex chaotic tangle … collapsing.

A descent into autumn, descending into winter.

Unstoppable, beautiful.

Elegiac, unintelligible.

We stand and look in amazement at its beauty.

Unable to touch, just to look, at the allotment falling.





Howard Sooley


It’s been some time since I posted anything here..I’ve been spinning too many plates..and now my head is spinning. Allan called to ask if I wanted to meet at the allotment and do a stir. I got on the 46 bus.


The plot was looking extraordinary, an exuberant out pouring of green leaves..of every shape,  colour and shade.. dressed with a dusting of orange, pink and yellow flowers.

We put some 500 preparation into a bucket with water,  stirring vigorously with our hands, making a vortex, energising the Water. we took it in turns, half an hour each, for an hour.



Within minutes the spinning in my head seemed to slow… We talked about the plot, ate the best of the remaining mange tout and the delicious sweet tear drop peas. I picked a flashback calendula (below)..

IMG_6097 An hour or so later, made our way to the 46 bus stop.

I won’t leave it so long next time..



Howard Sooley

sunday sunflower

A good autumn walk on Hampstead Heath, sunny and still. At noon I noted how low the sun was in the sky, no longer over head, now struggling to get much above the tops of the heaths taller beech trees.
Late afternoon at the plot. Under the golden glow of the sunflowers. They are bursting into magisterial bloom (planting them late in the season seems good idea now rather than an oversight). It’s lovely to enjoy their pyrotechnic display against an October sky.
I can’t say I did much other than chat and photograph. But loved it, loved being there. It’s funny how an hour there can breath a healthy complexion into your pale week.
We picked the borlottii beans and some black beans that again were planted late in the season, they looked like they might be better eaten whole rather than wait to see if the weather would be kind and let the beans proper develop and ripen (we tried one raw and it was delicious).


Howard Sooley
05 October 2014


from the pavements of Kentish Town

Howard Sooley
03 October 2014

summer fading to autumn

The days are definitely getting shorter and the mornings colder. The mellowing sun lower in the sky.
There is a cold damp morning mist clinging to Hamstead Heath, wrapped around the trees. The first falling golden leaves of autumn lay on the pavement outside my studio (which I pick up and photograph).
The allotment is looking healthy enough for this time of year, one of our late sown sunflowers lighting up the plot like an angle poise lamp.
There’s plenty of winter salad, taking advantage of the last warmth of the sun, they will soon need thinning and transplanting.
Despite the slowing of growth, there’s still life here. Party dress Dahlias on neighbouring plots, clear orange of calendula and nasturtium glow like bright embers in the ash.
I love this time of year, a calm moment of equilibrium, before the pendulum swings back toward the darkness of winter.

Howard Sooley
25 September 2014

bean soup

Cooked a bean soup on the plot. We hoping to roast the sweet corn (which we did anyway) but it hadn’t been a good corn year for us , as was last year and the one before… we don’t seem to be good at corn.
The day was still and warm and the allotments curiously unpopulated. Conkers plummeted from the trees, ricocheting like pistol fire from the branches as they fell.


The bees, aware of the spent embers of hollyhock, hurriedly made the most of the last splashes of late summer colour. We sowed (late) some winter leaf hoping the autumn would be kind to us.
The bean soup was delicious.

Howard Sooley
07 September 2014

11 potatoes

I was at the plot just before 7am this morning, met by a fine misty drizzle. The pigeons were busy taking breakfast amongst the half chewed remnants of our mizuna. My approach sent them bursting up into the high branches. I wish they’d stay there.



On sunday we had cleared a space for the potatoes, by moving the remaining chard to the opposite side of the plot. It is a remarkably full plot, but we now have a clear run of 11’ x  2’, which progressed with the digging of a trench (Allan now in need of an osteopath…)

We seem to be drawn towards growing potatoes, it’s not like we really have the space. Last year with the lack of sun the they marauded over half the plot, and  then repaid us frugally with a few unimpressive tubers. But we persevere every year, somehow reassured by their presence. They make it feel like a ‘real’ allotment, give dimension. We grow very few root crops, but somehow they seem necessary.



Today was a root day so in went the 11 potatoes..

in order from left to right they were..



Belle de Fontenay

Sharpes Express

Sharpes Express

Belle de Fontenay

Arran pilot

Arran pilot





Howard Sooley

a few days later..

Sowed four rows of spring salads and rocket yesterday, two rows of spanish peas today.


All in blissful warm sunshine. The winter mustards all bolting into yellow flower. The deep mahogany chicories slowly reverting back to summer green.



The pond now choked with frogs spawn, with little or no space between the lumps of wobbly translucent jelly.



Howard Sooley