Imbolc

Yesterday was the first day of February, also known as St Brigid’s Day or “Imbolc” here in Ireland. St Brigid is one of the patron saints of Ireland, her feast day marks the beginning of lambing season. In fact, the word Imbolc derives from “i mbolg” the Irish phrase for “in the belly”, which referred to sheep bearing young. Saint Brigid’s day in school was great fun because we used to spend the day making St Brigid’s crosses, a traditional cross woven from rushes or straw.

Most importantly, however, St Bridgids day marks the beginning of spring. I am rejoicing.

It’s been a long winter, dark and wet. It seemed to do nothing but rain for the past three months. The past week has seen howling winds and driving rain, some hail, thunder and sleet. I have been absent from my allotment for some time, mostly because when I do get the chance to go, mother nature laughs at me and send some sort of horrible weather upon us. I’ve been feeling at a loss, like I might never garden again.

Yesterday, however, on the first day of spring, I found myself excited again. I woke up cheerful, I began to think about the gardening year. I began to imagine lovely spring days on the plot, buying my seeds, planning the plot for the year ahead. I’m currently trying to draw up a planting plan for the year. Last year, I tried my hand at a lot of crops and this year I hope to do the same, with the difference that this year I want to concentrate on a few key crops. I hope to grow lots of lovely legumes, plenty of peas, some garden peas and sugar snaps, and I’m going to try beans, broad beans, french beans, runner beans, you name it, I want to try it. I’m also going to grow the favourites from last year again, onions, carrots and beetroot. I have decided, though, not to grow potatoes. Yes, you read that right. I’m not growing spuds in 2013. This is for many reasons, they caused me so much trouble last year for a crop I don’t really love as much as others. They take up a huge amount of space on the plot and last year they were destroyed by blight. So this year, I’m giving them a break.

The plot's looking pretty bare right now

The plot’s looking pretty bare right now

This time of year is almost the best time for the gardener. We get to spend hours reading about seed varieties, picking our crops for the year and imagining how amazing our plots will be in the coming year. It all looks so wonderful and productive in our heads, more often than not, the outcome is far less amazing.

The best thing about the first day of spring though, is that it’s a fresh start; all of last years failures can be left where they belong and it’s time to look ahead to all the year has to bring.

Hopefully it’ll bring lots of rhubarb, I’m dying for some rhubarb!

Rhubarb won't be long now!

Rhubarb won’t be long now!

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