Spring is a tempestuous season, meaning everything is under threat of sudden destruction: blustery winds can reduce a thriving garden to a mess of potage, and hail can turn what’s left to confetti. Keeping those elements off young seedlings is challenging unless you are growing undercover in a tunnelhouse, but there are ways to reduce the chances of shreddingby-weather. Cloches, glass or plastic, protect against everything bar insects and molluscs. Rough weather is countered by a well-anchored cloche and even cold air is kept at bay, as under the clear skin of a cloche the air can be several degrees warmer. At this time of year, lettuces benefit greatly from protection from unexpected cold, and cloches suit them perfectly, but be aware they don’t deter slugs and snails. The most effective way to keep their numbers down is to go into your garden at night with a head torch, and pick them off by hand.