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rhubarbBolting rhubarb is not a good sign. The twenty year-old rhubarb patch in my neighbour’s allotment is showing all the evidence of being old and tired. Flower-heads are produced when a plant feels its life is threatened – a lack of water or nearing the end of its productive life are the most common reasons. But this is not a time to be down-hearted.

Flowers mean seeds. Free seeds and thousands of them. Plus bolting plants will give you a jaw-dropping flower show. Last year my humble Musselburgh leeks produced a globe of pink flowers atop a chest-height stem. And a very tasteless experimental cos lettuce that I just couldn’t be bothered to pick, spread corkscrew stems and bright-blue flowers all over the vegetable bed.

So if you see your rhubarb, lettuce, leeks or spinach bolting, my advice is don’t rip them up.

The hazelnut meringue came with embarrassed apologies. It was late and Michael, the chef at The Poolway House Hotel in Coleford, was reluctant to let such a cracked and crumbled meringue leave the kitchen.

wine dressIt might sound daft, but you can make a dress out of wine. If you fancy having a go you’ll need twelve bottles of cheap Australian red wine and patience. Two weeks and a vat of red wine vinegar later, you’ll have enough Mother of Vinegar ‘material’ to make a mini-dress.

Rocket is a first-time and last-time gardener’s staple. A sprinkle from your watering can or a shower of rain will prompt this salad necessity to pop-up after only a few days.