Speed up process of growing broad beans and peas

If you sow broad bean or pea seeds directly into a garden drill over Easter weekend and the following weather is kind, expect the first taste 12 to 14 weeks later.

If you wish to speed up the process, start them in pots on the greenhouse bench in early March and see how quickly they grow when planted out.

The cabbage and cos types of lettuce which are grown for their hearts, are still very popular in season but the downside of growing them is the relatively long wait for maturity, it can be three months.

Leaf lettuce, on the other hand, offers a faster and longer-lasting feast.

Within one month of sowing there are micro-leaves available and after six weeks the cut-and-come-again harvesting begins.

While March weather was wreaking havoc in the garden, we were snipping fresh leaves in the cold greenhouse border for salads.

Three packets of seed – Salad Bowl, Lollo Rossa and Leaf Lettuce Mixed – offer a diversity of colour, form and taste. Some are quite peppery. Enough to keep you in crispy-fresh leaves until the garden crop emerges.

The greenhouse bench also supports 10 pots of strawberries that are 
well into growth and 
ahead of those in the outdoor bed.

Not for the first time, they will give us a pre-Wimbledon taste of delights to come.

But only if we keep on top of the greenfly which have predictably appeared from nowhere.

Any form of weather protection, large or small, can be used to advantage in this region.

Mini poly-tunnels, cloches or fleece, securely fixed over recently sown seeds, offer a flying start to spring.