Forget gambolling lambs, newborn chicks and cute calves: spring in the market garden means an explosion of life all round, from insects (hurrah for ladybird larvae!) and arachnids to bees and amphibians. Every year I see hundred of baby spiders (spiderlings?) appear in the module tunnel, huddling together and looking like a pile of spilt brown seeds; then they grow up (most of them), make webs of their own (some of them), and catch naughty aphids and other intruders in the tunnel (a few of them). They also catch me sometimes, covering my hair and face in claustrophobic webs, blurgh; but (usually) I tolerate it because they catch pests too.
Most excitingly this year, frogspawn has appeared in my pond – of its own accord! I’ve also seen one of the large common toads in the pond that hang round the poytunnels (either Norman or Todd, it swam away too quickly to tell); and small froglets (probably from last year’s spawn that I placed in the pond) hopping around the pond stones too. So beware slugs, your days are numbered…
I pulled up all the brassica stems last week, just before rotovating the field, and I’ve piled them up in a corner of the field to rot down gradually. I’m hoping that a toad or hedgehog or two may find this mansion appealing (and not too whiffy) and move in; although I suspect that at first the local field mice will colonise the pile. I can always hear the mice sqeaking away to each other round the edges of the field; although they keep quiet when a sparrowhawk is on the wing.
I’ve left quite a few of the overwintered brassica salad plants to carry on flowering too; since the bumble bees and others are out and about on sunnier days, scoffing the nectar hungrily. I’ve also seen some honey bees around too, which will be the new batch that have come through the winter as grubs and now hatched, ready to start a season’s gathering for the colony. It only takes one sunny afternoon to hear and see all the life springing into action, ready for the sunny (ooh please please!) summer to come.