If you fancy having your own home grown fruit, rhubarb is a good one to start with.
Apart from anything it needs hardly any looking after, isn’t prone to disease and produces plenty of fruit every year in spring when there’s not much else around.
It reaches about 1 metre wide and likes a nice, sunny spot in good, rich soil. The ideal time to plant it is in autumn or early spring.
Resist the temptation to pick stems in the first year, allow the plant to build up it’s strength and you’ll get much more in the long run.
It dies right back in autumn and pops up again in early spring. The only care it needs is a couple of spades of compost or well-rotted manure around it’s base in early spring, take care not to cover the emerging shoots or crown of the plant. I’m all for plants that need little input but give maximum reward.
I have two plants at the allotment and one in the garden, but we both love rhubarb, so happily get through rather a lot. I freeze some in crumble sized quantities all ready for an easy pudding, it’s also makes a nice sorbet, is good in cakes and Jamie Oliver has a tempting recipe for Rhubarb bellini, talk about a versatile fruit….
The only other thing to note is that the leaves are poisonous, I found this out years ago when our cat nibbled some leaves and dramatically collapsed. It was nearly a case of curiosity killed the cat, but fortunately she survived after a night at the vets.
I’m planning to try out the bellini at the weekend.
image: Jill Anderson