Its at this time in the turn of the seasons that gardeners and allotmenteers the world over start to turn their attentions not to the crops carefully brought through the winter but to the new crops to be grown the forthcoming year. As the last of the brussels sprouts are harvested, early peas and lettuces and parsnips all have their seeds sowed in the cool, moist earth.
I am no different. My garden has fed us every single Sunday of 2016 and every Sunday in 2017 so far, with delicious seasonal crops. In early spring, the so-called hungry gap saw us enjoying broccoli and kale florets. Late spring and early summer gave us peas, broad beans, cauliflower and salad by the tonne. Summer proper gave courgettes that had to be picked every morning lest they became marrows whilst my back was turned. The greenhouse was at its most productive in high summer too, giving cucumbers and tomatoes by the score. As autumn approached, squashes ripened and we enjoyed cabbages and kale as well as long, plump runner beans. By Christmas we had parsnips for roasting and the sweetest brussels sprouts for steaming.
Right now, my veg patch is filled with rows of green shoots, autumn planted garlic carefully overwintered and growing strongly. Broad bean seedlings reach for the weak sunlight, winter lettuces grow strongly, ready to give us our first spring salads, and parsnip seeds are buried in a line of dark earth. Standing tall and straggly are last years kale and some sprouting broccoli, yet to deliver its purple jewels.
And buried deep in my seed box, locked in their packets and envelopes, are more seeds for this year, a lot of them harvested from plants allowed to run to seed and fill my garden with buzzing bees, and more bought as Christmas and birthday gifts and carefully hoarded.
Its going to be a year free of brassicas, to give the veg patch a break and confuse the cabbage white butterflies that visited in such profusion last year. The flittering white insects will have to be content with what brassicas I am able to squeeze into the borders. In the veg patch itself, the alliums dominate, garlic and shallots. Between them will be root crops and legumes, carrots and parsnips, oca and salsify, broad and runner beans both and courgettes and squashes will spill from the corners and onto the lawn.
Whether the garden will still feed us weekly, I do not know. I do know it is loved and that it feeds us with seasonal produce, sweet and delicious, as much as it can. And that is as much as I can ask.