the summer solstice
Monday 10th May 2010
June 21st has been celebrated by many cultures throughout the ages owing to it being the longest day of the year in the Northern hemisphere. Customarily, fires were lit on mountaintops, beside rivers and streams and in the market places and streets of the towns. Fertility rites were performed to ensure a bountiful harvest in the coming year and no crops were gathered until the first fruits had undergone the summer solstice blessing. The bonfires were believed to symbolise the suns power and to help it to renew its energy as it began its downward course across the horizon.
There appears to be an interesting change in the growth of the crops immediately after the solstice. The longest day seems to be a cue for the plants to shift their attention from growing healthy roots and leaves to developing plentiful flowers and fruits, in a bid to capitalise on early investment and generate plenty of offspring. We will certainly see it in the field over the next ten days with the crops changing almost before our eyes.
I have been out crop walking today and the broccoli heads are golf ball sized, the broad bean pods are just forming from the flower and the carrots and parsnips resemble your little finger. Over the next week, given some favourable weather, they will change by the day. In less than ten days time the carrots and parsnips will be ready to bunch in the boxes, the broccoli heads will have reached a good size and we will be swimming in broad beans. It