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Hemp seed I sow …

In the nineteenth century hemp (Cannabis sativa) seed was widely used by girls in love divination, in southern England and in the Channel Islands. In Guernsey in the 1880s:

‘A vision of your future husband can … be obtained by the sowing of hemp-seed. The young maiden must scatter on the ground some hemp-seed, saying: Hemp-seed I sow, hemp-seed grow, For my true love to come and mow, Having done this she must immediately run into the house to prevent her legs being cut off by the reaper’s sickle, and looking back she will see the longed-for lover mowing the hemp, which has grown so rapidly, and so mysteriously’ [1].

At Wolvercote, Oxfordshire, in the early 1920s:

‘Mrs Calcutt’s mother was probably the last girl to try the charm of sowing hempseed … She, with a girl friend, went to the churchyard one Christmas Eve at midnight, carrying some hempseed, while throwing it over her shoulder said: I sow hempseed, Hempseed I sow, He that is to be my husband, Come after me and mow, Not in his best or Sunday array, But in the clothes he wears every day! The friend with her was very much frightened; some people said she saw a coffin, but whatever she saw, it was certain she died soon afterwards, and the people in the village evidently connected her death in some way with the visit to the churchyard, as they forbade their daughters to try this charm any more’ [2].

Variations in the custom appear to have been small, the main differences being the date chosen. Midsummer’s Eve (24 June) seems to have been the date most widely favoured [3], other dates included St Valentine’s Eve (13 February) in Derbyshire and Devon[4], St Mark’s Eve (24 April) in parts of East Anglia [5], and St Martin’s Eve (10 November) in Norfolk [6].

Hemp seed divination on Old Midsummer Eve (4 July) forms a pivotal scene in Thomas Hardy’s novel The Woodlanders, first published in 1887. This event appears to be atypical in that his Hintock maidens sowed their seed in dark recesses in the woods, and although the village girls were the main participants, ‘half the parish’ turned up, young men positioning themselves so that after the sowing they would be the first to be seen by their potential lovers. Presumably Hardy adapted his account to bring it in line with his novel’s woodland setting.

In northeast Scotland a similar practice involved the sowing of lint-[flax]seed (Linum usitatissimum): ‘the maiden had to steal out quietly with a handful of lint-seed, and walk across the ridges of a field, sowing the seed, and repeating the words: Lint-seed I saw ye, Lint-seed I saw ye, Lat him it’s to be my lad Come aifter me an pu’ me. On looking over the left shoulder she saw the apparition of him who was to be her mate crossing the ridges, as it were, in the act of pulling flax[7].

1. J. Stevens-Cox, 1971. Guernsey Folklore recorded in the Summer of 1882, St Peter Port: 10. 2. A. Parker, 1923. Oxfordshire village folk-lore, Folk-lore 34: 324. 3. A.R. Wright, 1940. British Calendar Customs: England, 3, London: 12. 4. A.R. Wright, 1938. British Calendar Customs: England, 2, London: 152. 5. Ibid.: 187. 6. M. Baker, 1974. Discovering the Folklore of Love and Marriage, Princes Risborough: 6. 7. W. Gregor, 1874. An Echo of Olden Time, London: 103

Adapted from Vickery’s Folk Flora, due to be published in April 2019.

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Hemp Uses And Care: Learn How To Grow Hemp Seed

hemp seed

Hemp was once an important economic crop in the United States and elsewhere. The versatile plant had a host of uses but its relation to the vilified Cannabis plant caused many governments to ban the planting and sale of hemp. The primary method of propagation of the plant is hemp seed, which is also useful nutritionally and cosmetically. Growing hemp from seed requires a carefully prepared seed bed, plenty of nutrients, and plenty of space for these large and fast growing plants.

What is Hemp Seed?

Hemp is the non-psychoactive variety of Cannabis. It has great potential as a grain and fiber material. There are approved varieties for planting depending upon where you live, so it is best to consult with your municipality to determine which, if any, varieties are permitted.

There are also species which are noted for best grain or fiber production, so selection will depend upon the purpose for the crop. Some tips on how to grow hemp seed will then send you on your way to a vibrant, rapid, and prolific crop.

Hemp seeds contains about 25 percent protein and over 30 percent fat, especially essential fatty acids which have been shown to promote optimal health. This makes them invaluable as animal fodder and in human consumption. Some studies even tout the seeds as reducing heart disease, minimizing PMS and menopausal symptoms, aiding digestion, and relieving the symptoms of common skin disorders.

Hemp Uses

Hemp seeds are also pressed to garner beneficial oils. Seeds are harvested when at least half the visible seed is brown. Seeds attain a cracked appearance as the outer layer dries. Hemp seed is heavily regulated and attaining viable seed within the confines of federal guidelines can be difficult in some areas.

Hemp fiber is a tough, durable product that can be made into textiles, paper, and construction materials. The oil from seed shows up in cosmetics, supplements, and more. Seeds are used in food, as animal fodder, and even beverages. The plant is considered to be useful in over 25,000 products in areas such as furniture, food, automotive, textiles, personal products, beverages, construction, and supplements.

More and more states and provinces are permitting growing hemp. It has been surmised that the plant could have global economic impact where governments allow the plant to be cropped.

How to Grow Hemp Seed

Be aware that many locations specifically forbid any hemp growing. In areas where it is permitted, you will likely need a license and adhere to a rigid set of rules unique to each locality. If you are lucky enough to be able to obtain licensing and certified seed, you will need to provide the crop with deeply tilled soil with a pH of 6 or higher.

Soils must be well draining but should also have enough organic matter to retain moisture as hemp is a high water crop. It requires 10 to 13 inches (25-33 cm.) of rainfall during the growth period.

Direct sow seed after all danger of frost has passed in soil temperatures a minimum of 42 degrees F. (6 C.). In optimum conditions, the seed can germinate in 24 to 48 hours, emerging in five to seven days. Within three to four weeks, the plant may be 12 inches (30 cm.) tall.

Due to the rapid growth and extreme vigor of hemp, few pests or diseases are of major concern.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for educational and gardening purposes only. Before planting hemp in your garden, it is always important to check if a plant is allowed in your particular area. Your local municipality or extension office can help with this.

Hemp is the non-psychoactive variety of Cannabis. It has great potential as a grain and fiber material. There are approved varieties for planting depending upon where you live. Learn more about hemp seed here.