A sunny Sunday, time to get busy in the garden | Gardening advice

A day of soil and seeds. An August Sunday, sunny mid-afternoon. Time to tidy. To clear beds for autumn. To pull slightly battered chard, sprawling purple orache and red amaranth. All past their best and overgrown.

The initial plan was for a few short rows. But the sun is shining for the first time in days. It may have gone to our heads.

I think I must imagine the plot is many times the size it is. There is no rational explanation for the pile of seed packets I have brought. I lay them out on a long wall. Howard looks askance.

Within an hour or two the plot is transformed. The overblown beetroot gone, the bolting swiss chard too. Some of the summer stragglers have been lifted and carefully sorted. Added to the dinner pile. A few flowers are picked for us both.

It is quick, exhilarating work. In a short time we have cleared perhaps a third of the plot. Wheeled waste away to the compost heap. Bagged up leaves and beetroot to take home.

Chef Angela Hartnett recently gifted us a few large bags of compost. We rake it over the cleared surface. Dark tones of rich soil.

There are soon seven short rows in the middle of the plot. At right angles to them, three that are longer. Though these we quickly divide in half and sow companion seeds in each. Including new Italian chard and beetroot to replace the ones we pulled.

There will be Treviso and Castelfranco chicories and many more autumn leaves. There will be baby beets, new growth to care for. The wild summer sprawl has been tamed, a little. Fresher air and light let in.

Howard catches me secretly spraying seed in a quiet corner. I pretend I’ve just found it in the bottom of the bag. He smiles patiently. We both know this isn’t true.

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

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