How did that happen? Here we were with snow and ice and rain and snow and rain and frost and wham - suddenly it feels like summer, never mind spring. Did I sleep in, or go further than I thought on my new road bike?
Many of my schools have been caught out by the change in weather and the unfortunate timing of Easter, meaning that for much of Feb and March the garden soil was too wet to work and too cold to plant into. An improvement in conditions towards the end of March meant most have got on top of final bed preparation but just when conditions were right to put lots of seeds into the ground everything stops for Easter hols.
For most of us this wouldn't matter too much, it would simply mean our crops would be delayed by 3 weeks. For schools, however, these three weeks can be the difference between July harvests for delicious summer recipes and everything ripening in August when the school is deserted.
Here then are my top 10 crops to sow at the end of April to get a harvest before school's out for summer (that's 13 weeks including half term). You can see from the number of weeks they take to reach maturity, that you need to get some of them in the ground pretty much as soon as you're back at school:
1. Beetroot (8-12 weeks to harvest)
2. French Beans (9-14 weeks)
3. Courgette (9-13 weeks)
4. Lettuce (8-14 depending on variety. Mini varieties will crop soonest)
5. Pea (12-14)
6. Radish (2-8)
7. Rocket (4-12)
8. Spinach (10-12)
9. Swiss Chard (8 - 12)
10. Turnip (6 - 10)
Nearly all of these can be sown directly into the garden soil, which means you don't need to worry about them growing leggy on windowsills. The exception to this would be courgettes which need to be planted into pots and kept on a windowsill until late May. For further sowing instructions click here.
After the holidays I'll let you know what our schools are sowing to crop in the autumn.