Croftless Crofter: Nic Goddard

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The world of gardening is not immune to fads and fashions.

From the latest must-have accessory – copper garden tools anyone? – to fancy seeds – cucumelon? Glass gem corn cobs?

I remain traditional in my growing choices and still attempt to use what I can repurpose or find for free in my garden.

I will never forget crofters on Rum who spent a small fortune shipping bamboo canes across to the island to stake their tomatoes, bringing them up to the croft from the ferry and walking past hundreds of trees on the way.

A few weeks before, I had been cutting small branches from these trees to make supports for my tomatoes and peas.

Sometimes, though, what can at first seem like yet another new fangled idea is simply the latest take on bringing back what should never have been let go in the first place.

Enter ‘No mow May’, one in a long line of alliterative or clever twists on pronunciation of months to encourage us to give something up, raise money for a good cause or save something.

You are unlikely to find me doing Veganuary, although Meat Free Mondays have become a thing in the Goddard house and we’re two years in to that so I guess it’s no longer a fad. And I don’t plan on giving up my gin for Sober October, but No Mow May seemed like something I could get behind.

If I’m honest I’m pretty much no-mow everything as it’s usually my husband waging war on the grass and keeping the lawn low but I was instrumental in persuading him to let the grass – and more importantly all the spring flowers contained within it – stay long this May.

Which has meant that instead of a manicured haven of close cut green inside our garden, while the reeds and bracken grew tall on the croft land around us, we have created an oasis of colour, a magnet for pollinators and given our cats and chickens the chance to pretend they are in jungle as they plough paths through the undergrowth.

As a result of the grazing of our crofting neighbours, sheep, it is pretty flower-free around us until the foxgloves come out.

People were encouraged to not mow lawns or strim other areas and allow then to go wild for No Mow May. Photograph: Shutterstock. NO-F24-mower-6
People were encouraged to not mow lawns or strim other areas and allow then to go wild for No Mow May. Photograph: Shutterstock.
NO-F24-mower-6

The other side of the croft fence there are primroses, bluebells, orchids, cuckoo flowers, dog violets, gorse and broom but for acres around us there is nothing for bees
and other busy buzzy creatures to get their pollen fix on as spring begins. So the carpet of dandelions, daisies, buttercups, orchids and forget me-nots which have sprung up in the grassy areas have provided them with a welcome oasis.

Coupled with the last of our spring bulbs offering tulips, daffodils and hyacinths along with the comfrey which I planted for making plant feed and some broccoli which has gone to seed, there is a riot of colour and a low level hum of happy insects in our garden.

The increase in flying friends has been noticeable, as has the pollinating effect on my
strawberries which are abundant this year. We are now in June, which means the strimmer has been bought out to take some of the grass back down to a lower level – if only to offer the birds the chance to feast on slugs instead of the slugs feasting on the young plants I’m about to plant out.

I’ve sown plenty of flower seeds though and there are lots of bee-friendly blooms ready to burst into life. These include borage, cornflowers, sunflowers, poppies and lavender,
not to mention the bramble bush I have been containing within a small area of wilderness.

My husband has also been persuaded to leave a steep bank of grass wild all year round. It wasn’t much fun to mow anyway and it means the cats and chickens can continue pretending to be on safari while it’s far enough from my raised beds to allow the slugs to claim it as their kingdom if they so wish.

Woe betide them if they venture beyond it though – I’ve heard it’s ‘No Mollusc August’ this year!

 

NO F30 Nic Goddard byline pic

 

Extra pic:

People were encouraged to not mow lawns or strim other areas and allow then to go wild for No Mow May. Photograph: Shutterstock.

NO-F24-mower-6