On my allotment rhubarb is normally the first splash of colour each year. As if by magic the bright pink of baby stalks suddenly emerges from the cold, wet soil, tantalising everybody with hints of a warmer, brighter spring that is now just around the corner. At the same time that the rhubarb appears the days start to draw out and each evening it seems a step closer to the moment when planting, picking and weeding will be possible at the end of the day.
This appearance also means that other preparations are starting to take place on Plot 45. The broad beans and sweet peas are in pots, the garlic shoots are showing, and this week the chili seeds will be planted in the heated propagator in the kitchen at home. All of this combining to make early February a time of hope and expectation for growers like me. The full flow of summer is still a long way away but suddenly the hints of spring making their way out of the winter darkness make it clear that, once again, the time for real focus on growing is tantalisingly close.