My need to create a sense of abundamce

io think I have seed amnesia, like a garden goldfish. I collect packets in winter and beg more from friends living in interesting places – Mexico, eastern Europe, Oregon, India. It’s as though I don’t know I have more.

I obsessively save. You should never walk with me in early autumn. I shake flower seed heads into envelopes, paper bags, anything to hand. I shouldn’t be let loose.

I see a plant I admire and I stalk it. I start by noting, say, a perfect single orange calendula or a delicate poppy for seed saving. Then I feel guilt at the Darwinist genetic selection.

Every year I transplant (most of) our seed collection to the allotment’s shed, anche se, last year mice decimated my carefully curated beans, snacked on the tear peas and finished off the amaranth, leaving only shredded packets like mouse nesting material.

Yet somehow there are more this season. I daren’t tell you how many packets and bags of nasturtiums I am holding, but it’s probably into double figures. E, ovviamente, they are already self-sown everywhere. It is near the same with many styles of calendula. It seems I can’t get enough.

‘It’s a benign addiction, but an addiction, nonetheless,’ says my minimalist architect wife. And it is not as though I don’t know the plot is barely 20 square metres. But somehow in my head I am collecting, buying and sowing for the whole site.

There is an old photo of Howard’s daughters, Nancy and Rose, when they were small from our first season at Plot 29. I think there is something in the abundance I am trying to replicate – almost a Henri Rousseau jungle a small child might move through in wonder.

This year should be different: there’ll be less height and more flowers. But like Alice, perhaps I, pure, can shrink and get lost in a fennel forest.

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




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