the last frost

The first courgette plants are laid out in the yard looking a bit crowded and leggy in their trays. A run of late and damaging frosts made us hold back from planting them. Now they need to get into the ground fast, before they become etiolated. With soil temperatures rising, every dry day is a planting day as we struggle to keep up with a hectic spring schedule.

As we reach the end of our carrots, artichokes, parsnips and beetroot, and the last leeks and cauliflowers limp to the finishing line, you may be heaving a quiet sigh of relief and anticipating some nubile spring vegetables. Annoyingly, the vegetables have to grow first and the first crops we started planting two months ago, (greens, rocket, pak choi, followed by spinach, lettuce and chard), are still a fortnight away. There are few horsehair-shirt-wearing dogmatists happy to weather the