Despite the abundance of leeks, purple sprouting, cauliflowers and spring greens in the boxes recently, the phones and e-mails have been reassuringly quiet so I assume that after a fairly rooty winter they are, for the most part, being enjoyed. If they are being tolerated in your house, you may be reassured to hear that the season is almost over for all these crops as they rush to seed. After a winter of waiting while they did nothing in the very cold weather, we are now buried in a tidal wave; trying to pick three months of crop in just six weeks. As soon as we have we picked our way across our 20 acre sea of purple sprouting, it is time to start at the beginning again, taking the next flush of spears pushing out from lower down the plants. The warmer it gets, the faster they grow, so that sometime in the next two weeks, as the spears get smaller and weaker, we will accept defeat and turn the sheep in on what is left.
In the meantime we are busy planting and sowing just about everything: courgettes, cabbage, lettuce, rocket, spinach, beetroot, carrots and much more. Each week, as the soil temperature rises, the list of crops to plant gets longer, finally reaching a crescendo in June and July when we plant most of the winter crops.
Landscape nappy art
Many of the early crops are covered with fleece, a form of spun polypropylene identical to the inner lining of a disposable nappy. As the crop grows, the fleece (weighing a staggeringly light 17 grams per square metre) is lifted and, on a good day, floats on top of the crop, trapping a pillow of warm, moist air. When we get a cold bright day with a dry easterly wind (the sort of day when young plants, fresh from the greenhouse, turn blue and wilt) you can crawl under the fleece and it feels like being in a tropical rainforest. You can almost hear the crops growing. The fleece will bring crops forward by up to two weeks, greatly reducing the amount we need to import during the