The joy of dawn on the plot

Early summer, mid May, 7am. I am here to water the seed beds, to make rainbows with the hose. I am joined by a spotted woodpecker. There’s a pair nesting nearby. A parakeet streaks past at head height. A perfect plot morning.

I am here a lot at this time, sowing, building structures for the climbing plants. There are three for Jane Scotter’s sweet peas, wintered in her greenhouse, sprung free here on hazel sticks with Howard’s willow wrapping.

Another open tent is planted with peas, a mix of Basque tear and Franchi Italian. The big bean structure is sown with a flat cream French and a classic bunching green.

The new soil is laid out in neat rows, the first sown with our saved seed: orache, Hopi amaranth, tagetes ildkongen. There are two long strips of white-stemmed Swiss and rainbow chard. Shorter runs have Italian chicories: red Treviso, speckled Castelfranco, green puntarelle.

I have bought Jekka’s herb chicory seed, too, mainly for the flowers, but have yet to find room among the dill and chervil. The end of the bed is sown with trailing nasturtium, there is calendula scattered through.

I have sneaked in a few sunflowers, hidden from Howard. There may be a small patch of Mexican corn, some blue, some red. We’ve rapidly run out of space.

I lie awake fretting about how the babies will be. Small, helpless against slugs and snails. There is nothing much to do except keep a wary eye out, offer them encouragement and seaweed feed. My next task is to collect nettles for a fertiliser tea.

Mostly, I am here to stand in the early sun, scan for signs of life, listen to the birds, talk to the feral cats. Wonder where the fox is. Commune, if you will. To be here now.

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

The Guardian