Croftless Crofter: Nic Goddard

There are spring crops ready for forgaing - I’ve been enjoying nettle tea and nettle soup this last week.

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Spring this year has been like a yo-yo, with it seeming to have sprung only to disappear countless times.

While we are all used to April sunshine and showers, this year I have been sunburned and snowed on within 48 hours as temperatures have soared and plummeted even more than usual.

Reports from the Met Office suggest record lows for April and we still have forecasts for snow in the week ahead which means I would be in more of a quandary than usual about when to plant out my precious seedlings, were it not for the fact the cold conditions mean they are not yet ready for planting out anyway.

This is contrast to last year when an early heatwave in April meant my tomatoes were threatening to take over the greenhouse by the start of May.

Our homemade coldframe.

We have created a coldframe from upcycled double glazed window units so I have seedlings ready to get in the ground once final frosts are over and I have everything crossed that may be before the end of May and before the midges make their return.

I have peas and beans looking promising, tiny tender herbs already fragrant, courgettes and sunflowers, nasturtiums and salad leaves with their bright green heads poking above the soil along with beetroot, carrots and hardy flowers in pots outside. The strawberries are seemingly unfazed by the cold and the cuttings of gooseberry, redcurrant, blackcurrant and raspberry a friend gave me have all taken root and seem happy enough.

The reality is that while cultivated crops may be a little more reluctant to leave their warm earthy beds and start coming out, the rest of nature knows it is spring. The cuckoo has been calling, our neighbours sheep have begun lambing and the leaves are finally out on the oak trees all around us letting us know that even if we still have the heating on the season has turned. Our chickens are in on it too. We already have our early spring egg glut when all the hens are laying and none have decided to go broody and stop offering us a daily egg.

There are spring crops ready for forgaing. I’ve been enjoying nettle tea and nettle soup this last week and am on the hunt for wild garlic if anyone has a tip off for a location they are up for sharing?

I am just holding out hope the same communication glitch which means the snow keeps falling and the tomatoes are still tiny is going to keep the slugs and midges at bay a little bit longer. I have a horrible suspicion they are wired in to the same hotline as the cuckoo though and will be here regardless.