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

tiny gold eyes.

Just now I watched the television news, showing images of the country blanketed in snow on this day last March. But today, it’s a very different story, warm and sunny, spring sunshine breaking through the naked branches of the trees surrounding the allotments. Its rays warm and welcome, I turned towards it’s yellow glow, closed my eyes and felt it’s warmth.

Earlier we had eaten sandwiches on Hampstead Heath, on a picnic blanket under a birch tree upon lush green grass. Unimaginable a few weeks ago, in all the dark, the cold and relentless rain. But the clouds have passed for now and spring is here.


Nancy and I left the picnic, walked over the heath to meet Allan.

The plot somehow looked like it had shrunk over winter, smaller than it seemed on my last visit. Maybe that’s because there isn’t much planting space available. Our winter crops are still there. The winter salads were failed to reach any sort of size before winter was upon them. Only now are they starting to look healthy and strong. The same could be said of the chicories, another year when they were either in too late or not given enough space. Now they are looking beautiful, still (for a while) in their winter plumage.

Nancy called from the ponds. They were alive with interlinked frogs, pushing between mounds frogspawn, hundreds tiny circular gold eyes watching our every move, to a chorus of froggy croaks.


Allan dug up an oversized radish planted last year and left. It looked more like a turnip, kept for it’s foliage as much as anything else. He sliced it very thinly with a pocket knife, it was surprisingly delicious.

The allotments were busy, lots of plot holders were there, digging, weeding, and sowing. It was an industrious place. Apart from plot 29 (us), where it was a biodynamic ‘non-doing’ sort of day. So it became a planning day, and a day to enjoy spring.

White frothing blossom on the blackthorn and plum trees, a bubblegum pink Magnolia flowering against the cloudless blue sky, birds singing for all they were worth (whilst gathering nesting materials) and the hawthorns spraying out acid green from all their spiny branches.


Howard Sooley

last leaves..


Howard Sooley

paved with gold

The streets of Kentish Town are paved with gold.


Howard Sooley

bean and gone

It was curious weather today, not excessively warm but very humid. Clammy.

Sun, then dark with thick cloud, then sun again. Blustery wind, then no wind, then wind again, all punctuated with scurrying showers.

With every gust, the chestnut trees fired conkers 60 feet to the ground, making the walk to the tool shed hazardous. IMG_9053-2

I pulled out the beans and poles, the last of the sweet peas, and mopped up the mess of tomato plants we let run riot in the centre of the plot. In their unchecked exuberance they produced very little. I hoed the ground and picked up the damp rotting leaves.


I collected some salad leaves for supper, dropping in a bag for Allan (at home with a broken leg) on the way home.



Howard Sooley