Perhaps was a bit geekish, but before getting married I remember writing up a list of all the pros and cons of my prospective bride to mull over.

Thankfully, our similarities outnumbered our differences but I never thought to consider the question of our attitudes to punctuality.

My wife loves to be early - even if it's just an informal hook-up with friends or a doctor's appointment, where there will be an inevitable delay, she will be there with 10 or 15 minutes to spare.

Calm, organised and happy, my wife is funny like that - she can quite happily take herself off to bed without having one last surf through the TV channels like me, and when she calls out "tea's ready" she actually means ready - expecting the family to come running at that moment.

I, on the other hand, am a creature of delayed reaction - I prefer to think of it as fluid punctuality.

I actually hate to be late - the rush and the stress. Perhaps it's a "man" thing but I just have to see if I can squeeze in one more errand before I head off at breakneck speed to get to an appointment - always hopelessly optimistic about the traffic situation.

So it was something of a brainwave, or possibly an attack of laziness, when I handed over the reins of the vege plot to Jose when we moved to our new property.

When growing your own food, and especially if you don't have much space, a lot depends on timing crops to peak in a seamless succession, to avoid that awful feast and famine scenario.

Early spring is one of the most challenging times to have anything edible you have grown yourself.

It's traditionally the time known as "gardener's gap", when some winter crops can be past their best and spring crops are yet to ripen.

If I was organised, I'd have it covered with a bit of careful prep, but instead I get the old running late feeling yet again.

I find myself rushing off to the garden centre and stuffing the place with seeds and plants, only to come home to a tsunami of silverbeet and zucchini come mid-summer.

Thank goodness, then, that Jose is revolutionising things with her punctual produce. She began as far back as late last summer - sowing trays of winter lettuce, oriental greens, chicory and endives for planting out a few weeks later. The last three have the amazing capacity to regrow when you harvest their first heads and each variety has a subtly different flavour.

If you don't like your leaves too tangy, you can blanche them by growing them in the dark just like you do with rhubarb.

Put a flowerpot over your chicory or a dinner plate on top of a head of crinkled endive for a week or two and the leaves will turn pale and juicy.

All these salads are best when protected with a glass or polythene cloche, or at least with a piece of horticultural fleece thrown over to ward off damaging winter winds and excess rain.

Spinach is another crop that likes to take things slowly in the cool of the year and tends to bolt if sown too late. In warmer areas, if your soil is good - perhaps improved by making raised beds - you can grow all sorts of other goodies for an early feast.

Corn salad is a good leafy staple to add to salads and silver beet, onions, peas and broadbeans will all put on growth in warm spells.

Most of these sneaked-in treats are slow burners at first but if you cosseted them through the cold, they should be romping out of the starting blocks by now, stealing a march on those vegetables sown in early spring.

So already, under my wife's timely hand, we are harvesting salads a month before it seems right to be munching fresh produce.

It's a guilty pleasure eating something out of season. I've just pulled the old metal dustbin off our rhubarb and found it looking particularly "Dr Seuss" in all its blanched finery - pink legs and gold hair-do on top. Rhubarb that isn't covered over in late winter and sprouted in the gloom is never long behind but it's tougher and the taste is so much more acidic.

What effort is it anyway to pop a bin over the crowns? Not much for someone like my wife, who actually does things when you are supposed to, and no effort at all for me now for I'm henceforth banished from the vege patch. At least it frees me up to be seriously late for all sorts of other pressing concerns.