The Everyday Lore Project

2 July 2020 – Mangelwurzel

2 July 2020 – Mangelwurzel

Today I ignored (nearly) all the folklore, and did what I had to do anyway. Which was plant mangelwurzels. Yellow eckendorfs to be precise. 

So the folklore I ignored included:

  1. Mangelwurzels, or mangels, or mangolds, should be planted April to May 
  2. Root vegetables should be planted by the waning Cancer Moon (we’re still waxing)
  3. In July, crops grown underground should be sown between the new moon and the first quarter which therefore would be between 20th – 27th

My defence:

  1. I wasn’t paying attention
  2. I’m sure I read somewhere that you can plant them in June, which is only two days in the past
  3. Seeds can be planted in a waxing Cancer Moon (full moon is on the 5th), and I was using seeds
  4. I couldn’t wait until the end of the month because I need them to be ready for the end of October, and they take between 4-5 months to grow 

Because of Punkie Night. Punkie Night falls on the last Thursday of October, this year being the 29th, in Hinton St George in Somerset. And on Punkie Night, mangelwurzels are hollowed out, have faces carved into them, and then are used as lanterns, much like pumpkins on Halloween, only more portable. Punkies have also been spotted on Bonfire Night in Wiltshire and Dorset. So I thought it best to be prepared having never seen a mangelwurzel in my local greengrocer. And when I say in my local greengrocer, I mean in his shop. Obviously.

Mangelwurzel seeds are quite odd. They’re a bit like cloves without the spiky bit. And much larger than anything else I’ve planted (spuds aside). I’ve also planted them in the wrong receptacle but needs must. And between you and me, I have a suspicion that the cat will play havoc with the soil by providing extra manure.

Anyhow, I popped some beach pebbles in the bottom, nearly put my back out heaving a bag of compost up to fill the tub, and then dibbed four seeds in, and covered with another 2cm of soil. We shall see what we shall see.

Right, I’m off to research cat repellents. I hear that cayenne pepper works a treat…

Burdick, A. (ed) (2019) Llewellyn’s 2020 Moon Sign Book, Woodbury, MN, LLewellyn Publications

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

Vickery, R. (2019) Vickery’s Folk Flora, An A-Z of the Folklore and Uses of British and Irish Plants, London, Weidenfeld & Nicolson

Published by Liza Frank

Author of My Celebrity Boyfriend. Obsessed with hula hooping, sons of preachermen and fresh dates, sometimes all at the same time. Curator of Folklore Agony and The Everyday Lore Project.

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