Monday, 1 March 2010

St David's Day

St David, of course, being the patron saint of Wales.  I'm not Welsh; nor have I a drop of anything but pure English blood running through my veins.  All the same, St David's Day is an important date in my calendar.  As far as I am concerned, 1st March is the first day of spring.  Not that the weather lords seem to agree with me.  Nevertheless, by sheer coincidence I lifted the last of the parsnips from the garden on Saturday (we had fine weather, unlike yesterday) and ate them, roasted, with the roast pork for dinner yesterday.  I always regard the parsnip as a winter vegetable, so eating the last two on the last day of winter seemed particularly appropriate.

I've grown parsnips in the garden for a good many years now, despite the fact that our soil is almost too shallow and definitely too stony.  The stones cause the roots to split, so our parsnips remind me of squids - a bulbous bit at the top with loads of trailing tentacles.  It does require the demonstration of a certain degree of dexterity to prepare them for the pot, but they taste so much better than those we can buy in the supermercado and roast parsnips are among my favourite vegetables.  Some years ago now, a neighbour advised me to use a dowel - the end of a fork handle or broomstick is ideal - to make a hole in the soil.  This should be filled with compost and the seeds placed on top.  The idea is that this gives the parsnip a chance to develop without splitting, but it has never worked very well for me so this year I have decided to try something different.  I have a number of deep flower pots which I don't use for anything, so I will fill them with compost and sow the seeds in them.  Maybe we will get some proper looking parsnips next winter.  Or maybe we won't.

Anyway, it's now spring.  The crocuses are in bloom (when the sun shines), the snowdrops are out in force, there are catkins (see the picture on Fern's daily photo blog) and the daffodils planted by my friend Tony's late wife in the grass in front of their house are waving merrily in the wind.  They are a particularly early variety.  I have seen none in the shops as yet, but no doubt my brother has seen plenty.  He lives in Cornwall in a spot where they are grown commercially.


And so we are back where we started as the daffodil is the national flower of Wales.

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