At this time of year there is little left growing on my vegetable patch, apart a few remaining carrots and leeks, and the members of the brassica tribe – cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts and broccoli. The Anglo Saxons even called February ‘Kale Month’ (kele monath). But by the middle of February, the Sun is starting to warm the soil on my vegetable plot. I need to prepare it for planting in March by digging it over, incorporating lots of vegetable matter from the compost heap. I’m also putting my seed potatoes to ‘chit’, or sprout some short shoots. I put the potatoes in old egg boxes with their ‘eyes’ facing upwards. They need to be placed where they will get some light, but not in direct sunlight. I will be planting out my garlic and shallot sets immediately though, weather permitting.
All through the dead time of winter, in the warmth of my kitchen, I make plans for the gardens and vegetable patch. What to plant where, what to grow, where the air will be perfumed with roses and lavender, where the earth will be turned for potatoes, where the poles will be raised for the beans. I remember that it won’t just affect me and my table, but that the local wildlife depends on it and there must be flowers for the bees, safe places for the insects, perches and nesting places for the birds, and I’m willing to share my produce with the mice and small mammals, and the fruit with the birds; my plans will have consequences for hundreds of little lives.
The garden is starting to come alive and I can see bulbs pushing through the ground. According to local folk wisdom, it is time to start work on the garden when the crocuses appear. I’ve been cleaning down the greenhouse, and washing all my seed trays, pots and cloches with warm, soapy water.
The Blessing of the Garden Tools
The garden tools are brushed off, cleaned and sharpened, and I like to bless them before the real gardening begins. You can do this, even if you only have house plants and a little watering can for them.
Lord and Lady,
Bless these tools which I have prepared in your honour,
Bless my endeavours this year,
May there be plenty,
May there be abundance,
Lord and Lady,