I've had a heavy cold all weekend so my planned plot visit - the first in a couple of weeks - was delayed until today, when I am having a day off work (but still working on another project, which I can't tell you about - yet).
A lot has happened since my last visit, or to be exact, a lot has died: heavy frosts have killed off the self seeded peas I was enjoying munching a fortnight ago, and reduced some of the chard to a mushy mess. The whole plot was looking forlorn and uncared for, which was depressing and guilt-inducing: I should have made the time to pop down and at least do some weeding. Everything looked so sad that I couldn't bear to take many pictures. No sign of my adopted moggie The Major, either: I hope someone's been feeding him or I fear for his continued survival.
And I'd forgotten about my dahlias, which should have been pulled up and stored ages ago. I've decided to experiment and leave one in the ground to see how it fares and put the other one in very slightly damp compost in the garage in the traditional way, to be replanted after the last frosts next year.
My spirits were lifted as I left for home under a grumbling sky by a little robin who perched on a pole, and shot me a perky look that said "pull yourself together Perrone!". I may be anthropomorphising like mad here, but it did help to shake me out of my melancholy.
And so, to look on the bright side, I did harvest some more beautifully crisp jerusalem artichokes (pictured right) and a head of red cabbage, which I shall saute in butter with shallots and juniper berries tonight. The 'chokes are an easy crop, particularly as you can leave them in the ground over winter and use them as you need them: they go soft if picked and left. Plus I still have plenty of potatoes, onions, pumpkins and garlic in store. And the endive (see left) to have survived the bitter weather remarkably well: it's only a shame that I am not particularly keen on this salad crop and grew it without realising in an Italian salad mix. I don't mind it mixed in with other leaves but it can be terribly bitter on its own.