Reflecting on the peaks and valleys of the previous year’s gardening journey

Despite a few setbacks, there is much to be celebrated. The end of year report for Plot 29 in mid-December paints an interesting picture of the past year. While 2022 was characterized by imported sandy soil and a late start to spring, 2023 was marked by interruptions such as accidents and exile. However, there are many positive aspects to appreciate as well.

Our efforts to improve the soil through the use of mulches and manure have yielded great results. The number of worms has multiplied significantly compared to the previous year, thanks to these soil-feeding techniques.

Sunflowers continued to thrive, serving as a symbol of solidarity with a state in the midst of war. This year, our sunflowers grew taller and bloomed more abundantly than ever before, surpassing even Howard’s height. The multiple heads in various colors stand as a sign of defiance and silent hope.

The highlight crop of the year was the Thai red corn brought back from Kala’s travels. Its exquisite colors, fine texture, and delicious taste have captivated us. However, we have yet to determine the ideal timing for saving the seeds, as this year’s attempt fell short.

The flower of the year for Plot 29 was the cosmos sulphureous. While we typically lean towards orange blooms, such as classic calendula, tagetes, and nasturtium, this flower fits in harmoniously. Saving the seeds is also incredibly easy, making it a highly recommended addition to any garden. In the coming year, our color palette may expand a bit, but we will still make space for spring daffodils, which will bloom for the second season.

Unfortunately, the climbing beans and peas still posed some challenges. Our work in achieving a balanced soil continues, requiring consistent care and attention.

Otto the dog deserves recognition as the companion of the year. He courageously adapted to being on the lead and has taught us lessons in patience. Howard, of course, is also an invaluable partner in this gardening journey. Lastly, a special mention goes to the quiet reader community “below the line.”

This column will take a break over the Christmas and New Year period, returning in a couple of weeks. I wish you all a very happy and healthy 2024, filled with the growth of your hopes, food, and flowers.

Allan Jenkins’s book, Plot 29 (4th Estate, £9.99), is now available. Order it for £8.49 from

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