the covers are off

It is always exciting as we pull back the covers to reveal the first spring crops in their fresh, succulent glory. Peeking around the edges can be deceptive; one year we uncovered a field of cabbage to find a Friar Tuck-style fringe but a bald centre with nothing but stumps and fat, blinking rabbits. No vermin or bugs this year, just near-perfect summer greens, little gem lettuces and spinach to join the fresh garlic, salad onions and rhubarb we are already picking. It quickens the pulse to see such splendour; surely we are in for a better year.

Even the asparagus is all ours this week. It takes over two years for a new asparagus bed to come into production but I am pretty confident that next year we will have enough to banish the irritatingly good and cheap Spanish stuff, at least for the

UK season.

The barns are all but empty. Our carrots and onions are gone and this will be the last week for old potatoes; the dozy Valor have the virtue of being the last variety to wake up but even they are now quick to sprout when they get out of store. Next week will see the start of the new season loose-skinned potatoes, with Maris Peer from Phillip de Maistre in Jersey (already on the extras list). Phillip