|Desert Rose in bloom!|
Ok - so today I want to talk about planting your own herb garden and what to plant. You'd think this was a pretty easy question to answer, I mean... they're herbs. They're all useful and you can always come up with a reason for them. But if you're like me then you start looking at seeds and soon your shopping cart has about 100 different herb seeds in it and you're looking at converting a whole room into a greenhouse (my apartment has no balcony so all my planting is indoors this year) and looking at buying potting soil in bulk. Not useful! I'd never get around to starting them all for one, and I don't have the windows to do it. So how do you decide?
Well, I knew what I wanted them for - cooking and teas. So I pulled out one of my herb guides and went to work putting together a list of 25 herbs that I'd like to grow. You have to put it in your head that this is not the only growing season and that if you need something that you're not growing, you can find it elsewhere. For instance - I needed sweet woodruff last year for the may wine for Beltane. I hadn't planted it because I ran out of room, and because a friend said she had it covered. And she did - until the deer got to her garden. So I called around and found a greenhouse that could tell me the history of the plant (original growers, if they used pesticides, etc) and finally found a organic greenhouse that had a healthy crop in stock. Problem solved!
But this year I am all about my teas and tinctures - and getting better at both. So I chose a few from the medicinal category and a few from the teas category and got a blend of 21 different seeds to start in my jiffy starter. (I doubled up on a few that I knew I'd want more of - lavender, yarrow, rosemary and lemon balm - to make 25) In addition to those I have anise, milk thistle, marigold, astragalus, cayenne, catnip, echincea, burdock, fever few, valerian, chamomile, sage, angelica, lemon bergamot, lemon grass, St. Johnswort and angelica. It is a very full garden this year!
The more important part for me was to get some plants that I have not worked with before - experimental plants for me. I never connect more with a plant than when I plant the seed and bring it to life slowly. It's what I loved most about being in greenhouse in high school - planting seeds and seedlings and watching them become healthy plants. There is a great feeling of accomplishment watching plants become healthy and alive. Magically speaking it is a form of fertility - caring for something that is too weak to survive on its own, it needs water and light and heat to grow healthy and strong. This is the time of year for creation magic - so get creating! Creating a kitchen witch garden is a great way to get going.
There are about a million ways to magically help your garden grow. "Mary, Mary quite contrary, how does your garden grow?" With a little water, a lot of light, a little heat and a well timed moon. ;) As Pagans we watch the moon quite closely and yes, it does matter when you plant. As a Druid and a kitchen witch it's important that the ingredients I'm using in my working is well suited to the task at hand. Magical planting helps that a great deal. As with magical cooking, and pouring your intent into whatever you're making, magical planting is the same thing. As you set the seeds into the soil imbue them with love and warmth, with the will to grow strong and healthy. As you tend them during growth place blessings on them. When I transplant them into the larger pots they'll live in permanently I'll bless them again. What better way to infuse your cooking, medicines and teas with magic than to use magically reared plants? And this is what I love about our path. The tremendous sense of accomplishment that comes from seeing the practical result of your intent.
So get some seeds, watch the moon and grow that magical garden! You don't have to plant a ton of seeds - a garden can be just one plant. If you're not sure about this, then pick something you like the look of... lavender is an excellent choice and smells heavenly. Or sage - always useful! Marigolds bloom profusely and grow well anywhere. Study that plant, raise it well and it will help in your magical workings.