Rhubarb is an attractive hardy perennial with large leaves and pink, red or greenish leaf stalks that are used as a dessert, often in pies and crumbles. Stems are usually picked in spring, but plants can be covered with pots to produce an early crop of blanched stalks in late winter. The flavour of stems varieties in sweetness depending on the age of the stems.
Rhubarb needs an open, sunny site with moist, but free-draining soil as it hates being waterlogged in winter. Avoid frost pockets as stems are susceptible to frost.
It can be grown from seed, but it's more common to plant dormant crowns between autumn and spring. Prepare the ground by digging in two bucketfuls per square metre of well-rotted manure, then spread out the roots and plant so the tip of the crown is just visible above the soil.
Pot-grown rhubarb can be planted at any time, but will need plenty of water during dry spells. Space plants 75-90cm (30-36in) apart, with 30cm (12in) between rows.
Rhubarb can also be planted in very large pots at least 50cm (20in) deep and wide.
Nigel Slater's roast rhubarb, which is allowed to brown slightly creates a delicious mixture of sweet and tart. Best served with vanilla ice cream or frozen yoghurt.