THE DEFINITION of ‘rhubarb, rhubarb’ is: “An indistinct hubbub of conversations, none of which make sense because they are simultaneous.”

The somewhat derogatory term is derived from the indistinct phonetic qualities of the word, not the attributes (of which there are many) of this fine vegetable, which thinks it’s a fruit.

Despite what my old mum said: “The acid in rhubarb causes rheumatism, you know...” the latest word has it that rhubarb is in fact jolly good for you, with a list of qualities including fibre, minerals, vitamins and antioxidants.

After years of parental deprivation, I first fell for rhubarb through a vegetable book which instilled in me a love of the romance of the Wakefield, Morley and Rothwell ‘Rhubarb Triangle’, where tender stems were ‘forced’ by men with candles staffed in their leather hats.

Keep out the light and you end-up with tender stems. Coal was cheap then, so you could produce the valuable crop in and out of season heat.

On the allotment, I first grew the green-stalked heirloom variety Victoria, which is considered the gold-standard of that type, but quickly converted to Champagne, which has beautiful pale, strawberry-pink stalks.

It is also a heritage variety and can be forced — not in a low shed, but under an old recycling tub, bucket or dustbin.

There is also a relatively new variety on the block, which gets great reviews.

Rhubarb Fultons Strawberry Surprise AGM is a fairly recent introduction, but is already quickly establishing itself.

This strong, vigorous variety will produce flushes of eye-catching, vivid strawberry-red stems, with a well-balanced sweet, yet sharp, flavour.

Who wouldn’t love that in a crumble..?

Like many of its compatriots the attractive stems are perfect for adding interest to both your growing space, whether it be in the plot or container — and the kitchen.

Buy a one-year-old crown today and it will produce good crops in a couple of years — but don’t be greedy.

Don’t crop too soon and always leave two thirds of the stalks in place at the end of picking season, so the crown’s strength is not diminished.

Plant your crown just beneath the surface in well-manured ground, or if you like the challenge of growing from seed, sow outdoors in spring in a seedbed, thinning to six inches apart, then once more to 12in.

The quality of seed-grown rhubarb can vary, so be ruthless in selecting the strongest plants to grow on and put them in their permanent site in autumn or spring.

But don’t be tempted to eat it in the summer, when it can become bitter and stringy. If I had to eat that, I would tend to agree with my dear old mum.

l Ventnor Enhancement, which does much to enrich lives in the area, is encouraging people to ‘bomb’ the revetment cliffs — to improve the environment.

Local livewire Maureen Cawley has organised 1,000 flower seed ‘bombs’ to be thrown at the cliffs, so she hopes it will have some impact in beautifying them still further.

Ventnor Enhancement has received donations from Inner Wheel and BAR 24 to help make it happen.

Maureen said: “Some of the customers from the wellbeing cafe in Salisbury Gardens will be involved, and we are hoping the idea will spread to other areas, because it should be lovely to see the oxeye daisies, cornflowers and poppies thrive.

“We have decided to throw our flower bombs on Thursday, meeting at 11.30am, at the beginning of the Ventnor to Bonchurch revetment walk, by the skateboard park.”

She says ‘bombs’ are available from outlets, including Newport’s Home Bargains, where a packet of 20 costs £3.99.

l St Helens Horticultural Society’s spring show comes to the village primary school tomorrow (Saturday).

It opens at 2.30pm, with prizegiving at 4.30pm.