Sooner or later, events confirm that, however much we try to regiment our affairs, we are ultimately subject to the laws, or rather patterns, of nature. The course of human history is one of steady evolution – or degeneration, depending on where you view it from – punctuated by short , sharp, dramatic shifts – revolutions. And so it is here in the garden.
Since Jack Frost overstayed his welcome in December, I have been pessimistic about the prospects for the spring salads. But last week, Naomi, Kate, Rosie, Brian and I set out to pick seven kilos of leaves, and couldn’t avoid picking ten. It happens like that: abruptly, the green leaf is back. And, by some cosmic serendipity, the good people of East London are, all of a sudden, hungry for it again. Our little farm stall recorded record salad bag sales; on the Saturday market demand is up; and Table 7 restaurant, who cancelled their subscription last month because “people weren’t eating it”, were last week demanding a special delivery.
In Lancashire, the tradition still persists, of striding out to the south-facing slopes to pick the first spring greens to emerge, to make “dock pudding”; whilst in these parts nettle soup remains a cult classic. It would seem that our bodies and souls are ravenous for any bit of new spring growth to feed on. And the eyes too: the green at this time is of a uniquely light, almost luminescent, quality: the staging in the glasshouse is positively glowing with lettuce and rocket seedlings. There’s another natural pattern: it does get better.