There aren’t many people who dislike rhubarb. More than 60 per cent of allotment-holders grow it because it seems to thrive on neglect.
When you have a look around at the allotment, you can see the rounded red buds already showing signs of shooting.
The earliest variety, which is called Timperley Early, will be ready to pull by the middle of February.
Another great favourite is an old-fashioned variety called Victoria.
This is mid-season and guaranteed to have red stems. When cooked, the flesh remains light red – delicious.
Perhaps you enjoy eating rhubarb, but have an ornamental garden and it doesn’t ‘fit in’.
Well, think again. It has beautiful green, crinkly leaves with dark veins, will grow anywhere and is described by landscape designers as an architectural plant.
Now is the time to buy a crown of rhubarb from the garden centre.
Choose a pleasant day, dig out a nice large hole, add a bag of well-rotted manure and plant the crown so that the rounded buds are at the same level as the finished surface.
I promise you, you’ll be pulling rhubarb in a few weeks’ time.
In addition to this you’ll find that every snail in your garden will go straight to the rhubarb rather than your petunias.
That way, you’ll know exactly where they are and can take action to remove them.
But a word of warning. Don’t throw them over the fence – they have a homing instinct and will return to the rhubarb a couple of days later. It’ll take them that long to come back, but they will!
If you have clumps of rhubarb at the allotment, dig out a huge one and leave it on top of the soil for four weeks.
Then put it into a black polythene sack and place the sack into the airing cupboard of your house.
After a few more weeks, wonderful red stems will appear providing you with lovely, sweet early rhubarb.Simple.
Anther easy idea is to add a layer of compost or manure over the top of the ground and place an old dustbin upside down over the clump. This will provide tender red stems about a month before the others.
I know you put custard or cream on your rhubarb, but us gardeners always use manure!