2 February 2020 – Candlemass

Today is Candlemass, which I mostly ignored except for sending out this tweet:

In some parts of the country today is also known as Badgers’ Day where hedgehogs are substituted for our stripy friends, and obviously our American cousins substitute again with a groundhog making it also Groundhog Day (and if you haven’t seen the brilliant new Jeep advert with Bill Murray in it, do. It’s very funny). 

Instead I went to Seedy Sunday and bought some potatoes. Seedy Sunday is the longest-running and largest community seed swap event in the country, and was held where I did my A Levels, Brighton, Hove and Sussex 6th Form College. Ah, BHASVIC, the place where I had a monumental crush (unrequited) on Jamie Theakston who was in the year above, and then bunked off most of my second year to party elsewhere, due to another boy. My A Levels were a very hormonal time. Luckily I didn’t need good grades to get into drama school.

Anyhow, by the time I got there mid-afternoon it was, according to the man on the permaculture stall, relatively quiet. However, it was still comfortably packed to make it uncomfortably hot and several times I had to resist the temptation to use my elbows to get to closer to the seeds. The first person I talked to was a lovely lady called Pippa, who sadly confirmed that even though it’s a Leap Year, peas and beans don’t grow the wrong way round. When I began to ask about potatoes, she pointed to the opposite end of the sports hall and said to talk to her friend. I’m sure her sending me in his direction had nothing to do with the bean questions. Sure of it. As I meandered around I talked to herbalists, basket makers, willow harvesters (now I know where to go for next year’s Brigid Cross), the permaculture chap, before getting to the Potato Man, who was brilliant. Buckets upon buckets of heritage tubers, pots of wild garlic and chamomile, bushes of thyme and bay. But I stare clueless. You see, my fingers are less green, more mildew.

So why was I fixated on potatoes today? Well it’s said that potatoes grow best when planted at Full Moon, so if I want home grown spuddage for a traditional Whit Sunday meal at the end of May, I need to plant them next Sunday. Which is a little early, but the Potato Man steered me to some chitted Accents, which are First Earlies, and a giant green plastic grow sack, and away I stumbled, clutching said items, and a fact sheet. I write this like I now know what I’m doing, but I can barely keep my aspidistra alive and they are supposed to be cast iron. So, please, if anyone has any tips on how I should go about this, and wants to chip in to help my spuducation, I will be very receptive. I may even post you a thank you potato. If I manage to grow any. 

Now my five Accents are on the kitchen window sill in the hope they will be well chitted by next weekend. Next is finding the compost, and after that, finding a way to keep the cat from crapping on them.

This is a sprig of Daphne I got today at Seedy Sunday. It smells like what cheap bodywash wished it could smell like.

Ps. Punxsutawney Phil has called an early spring, and no hedgehogs were seen…


Resources

Cooper, Q. and Sullivan, P. (1994) Maypoles, Martyrs & Mayhem: 366 Days of British Myths, Customs & Eccentricities, London, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

Leendertz, L. (2019) The Almanac, A Seasonal Guide to 2020, London, Mitchell Beazley

Roud, S. (2006) The English Year: A Month-By-Month Guide To The Nation’s Customs and Festivals, From May Day to Mischief Night, London, Penguin Books

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