At this time of year, France is laughing – the warmer climate means growers edge ahead with early spring crops such as wild garlic and asparagus. Here is Terry Woollard of The French Garden proving the point.
But the British crops are not far behind. Wild garlic is already arriving in small volumes from counties such as Cornwall. Innovative asparagus growers such as the Chinns in Herefordshire (see our Product Profile for more info) are also quick to harvest.
Homegrown highlights also include brassicas, early Jersey Royals and the last blast of Yorkshire forced rhubarb – see the two grades below from Oldroyd, a leading grower, who we visited a few years back (see our Product Profile). This batch was pictured at wholesaler Gilgrove.
Don't forget Jerusalem artichokes, too - this one is a whopper!
English apples and pears are still eating well. Cox, Braeburn, Gala, russet, Conference and Comice all easily available.
From Italy, this is the time for citrus such as blood oranges (see Product Profile), agretti, radicchio (Product Profile), peas and broad beans. Modelled below is the elegant Rosa di Friuli radicchio at European Salad Company.
Other Continental specialties include purple cauliflowers, chard, baby veg, kohlrabi, celeriac, salsify, watercress, rose garlic, Romanesco and much more besides. France is sending the first batches of quality strawberries such as Gariguettes to brighten up your day.
Tomatoes are picking up speed, such as these Beefheart.
For something off piste, have a go with oca - a Peruvian crop now grown commercially in Europe.
Fresh or 'wet' garlic is also on hand with its gorgeous mellow flavour.
Spanish citrus such as clementines are still available - often late variety Nardacott. They are also sending soft fruit such as raspberries and blueberries. Grapes hail from countries such as South Africa and India.
On the exotic front, here's some colour from a few of the lines on hand. Number two are Kaffir limes.
See you in April. Feel free to get in touch with any questions in the meantime. And here's a final flash of colour to set you up for the day - punnets of edible flowers.