RE:Vegetable and Fruit Gardening
(Date Posted:02/13/2009 01:38 AM)
Pine Straw Mulch
by Scott Jacobs
is undeniably the single best thing you can do for your garden and
landscape. Using pine straw as your mulch will not only save you time
and money, but can give you a garden that is the envy of your
Mulch is a very important tool in the garden and landscape that:
•helps prevent loss of topsoil from wind and water erosion
•reduces water usage by maintaining soil moisture
•reduces rainwater runoff
•reduces soil compaction
•lessens soil temperature fluctuations
•improves soil tithe
•makes the landscape more attractive
•reduces weed growth
•insulates soil to keep plants cooler in summer and warmer in winter
•improves soil aeration, structure, and drainage over time
•improves soil fertility
•inhibits certain plant diseases
•reduces damage from trimmers and lawn mowers
of these qualities not only improve the health of your garden and
landscape, but subsequently improve its overall beauty as well. There
are many types of mulches to choose from. One type, pine straw
(sometimes referred to as pine needles), outperforms other mulches in
The Healing Garden
The Celts were famed for their herb craft, Myths tell that Airmid,
the Irish goddess of medicinal plants, cared for the grave of her
brother Miach, and on this all the herbs of the world grew. As she
cut each herb, it described its healing properties. Healers in
former times would grow their own herbs, and every convent and
monastry had its medicinal garden. These were characterised by
fragrant herbs. Flowers and fruit tress, and because the herbs were
grown, cut and dried by the healer, they were endowed with his or
her special essence.
Ordinary people also had their herb patches, where they grew the
ingrediants for home-made lotions and potions. Even in the
industrial age, when large numbers of people moved to towns for
work, a small patch of back yard and later an allotment would often
be cultivated. You do not need acres of land - or, indeed, and land
at all - to become a spiritual herbalist. A windowbox or the balcony
of a flat can provide adequate space to grow a selection of healing
herbs. And a green place, whether indoors or outdoors, naturally
attracts health and healing to the home and family. Sitting among
your fragrant herbs or healing flowers for a short time each day
does seem to trigger the immune system, making you less susceptible
to illnesses and helping your body to fight infections and viruses.
All this benefit without actually ingesting any of your healing
The following herbs and flowers are particulary suitable for a
healing garden. Healing flowers and herbs include basil, bergamot,
chamomile,clary sage, dill,fennel,geranium,hyacinth,jasmine,
lavender,lemon verbena,lily of the valley, marigold,meadowsweet,
melissa(lemon balm),parsley,passionflower,peppermint,rose, rosemary,
sage,st.Johns wort,thyme,and violet.
Healing trees include:
almond,apple,bay, cherry,juniper,lemon,olive,pear,pine and orange
and in warmer climes:
acacia,apricot,coconut,fig and peach.
The size of the tree is irrelevant; your tiny tub olive will become
a focus of healing as well as a bringer of peace to the home.
Top Ten Houseplants for Cleaner Air
Adapted from Your Naturally Healthy Home, by Alan Berman.
listing of the Top Five Cleaners would be complete without mentioning
houseplants, our often-overlooked helpers in ridding the air of
pollutants and toxins, counteracting outgassing and contributing to
balanced internal humidity.
Find out which houseplants are our most effective allies in keeping your household air clean and pure.
is suggested that one plant should be allowed for approximately 10
square yards of floor space, assuming average ceiling heights of 8 to 9
feet. This means that you need two or three plants to contribute to
good air quality in the average domestic living room of about 20 to 25
has shown that these 10 plants are the most effective all-around in
counteracting offgassed chemicals and contributing to balanced internal
* Areca palm
* Reed palm
* Dwarf date palm
* Boston fern
* Janet Craig dracaena
* English ivy
* Australian sword fern
* Peace Lily
* Rubber plant
* Weeping fig
many plants like light, they do not all have to be placed near windows.
Many indoor plants originated in the dense shade of tropical forests
and have a high rate of photosynthesis. These are ideal for the home
and can be placed in darker corners. When positioning plants, try to
strike a balance between light and ventilation because the effect of
plants on indoor air pollution appears to be reduced if they are set in
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RE:Vegetable and Fruit Gardening
(Date Posted:02/13/2009 01:38 AM)
|Using Botanical Pesticides in Your Organic Garden |
Insect and disease killers that come from plant extracts are called botanical pesticides or botanicals.
Although derived from natural sources, botanicals are not necessarily
safer or less toxic to non-pest insects, humans, and animals than
synthetically derived pesticides. In fact, most botanicals are
broad-spectrum insecticides, which kill both good and bad bugs
indiscriminately. Some botanicals cause allergic reactions in people,
others are highly toxic to fish and animals, and some may even cause
cancer. All pesticides — including botanicals — should be used only as
a last resort after thoroughly reading the label on the package. The
pesticides in this section are listed from least to most toxic to
- Hot pepper wax and powder: The chemical capsaicin
causes the heat in hot peppers and it's the active ingredient in these
useful botanical products. In low doses, such as found in ready-to-use
sprays and dusts, hot pepper wax repels most common insect pests from
vegetables and ornamental plants. It doesn't cause the fruit or
vegetables to become spicy hot, but instead stays on the surface of the
plant where it remains effective for up to three weeks. Stronger
commercial formulations kill insects as well as repel them. Hot pepper
wax is even reportedly effective in repelling rabbits and tree
- Neem: This pesticide is made from the seeds of the tropical neem tree, Azadirachta indica,
and it comes in two forms — azadirachtin solution and neem oil. Unlike
the other botanical insecticides in this section, neem does not poison
insects outright. Instead, when insects eat the active ingredient, it
interrupts their ability to develop and grow to their next life stage
or lay eggs. It also deters insects from feeding and is effective
against aphids, thrips, fungus gnats, caterpillars, beetles,
leafminers, and others. Amazingly, plants can absorb neem so that any
insects that feed on them may be killed or deterred from feeding.
breaks down in the presence of sun and soil within a week or so. To
discourage insects from eating your plants, spray neem before you see a
large infestation. The product Safer BioNeem contains azadirachtin
Neem oil, the other seed extract, also works against
some plant leaf diseases, such as black spot on roses, powdery mildew,
and rust diseases. Mix the syrupy solution with a soapy emulsifier to
help it spread and stick to the plants. The neem oil products called
Rose Defense and Fruit & Vegetable Defense (from Green Light)
control insects, mites, and leaf diseases.
These insecticidal compounds occur naturally in the flowers of some
species of chrysanthemum plants. The toxins penetrate the insects'
nervous system, quickly causing paralysis. In high enough doses or in
combination with other pesticides, the insects die. Powerful synthetic
compounds that imitate the natural chrysanthemum compounds are called pyrethroids.
Pyrethroids are not approved for use in organic farms and gardens. Also
avoid any pyrethrins that list "piperonyl butoxoid" on the label. This
additive is not approved for organic use.
| || |
relatively harmless to humans, pyrethrins are very highly toxic to fish
and bees and moderately toxic to birds. It kills both beneficial and
pest insects. To keep bees safe, spray pyrethrins in the evening after
bees have returned to their hives for the night and avoid spraying
blooming plants. The compound breaks down rapidly when exposed to sun
and air and becomes less effective if stored for longer than one year.
Many commercial products contain pyrethrins.
| || |
- Ryania: This pesticide comes from the tropical Ryania speciosa
plant. Although it controls fruit and codling moths, corn earworm,
European corn borer, and citrus thrips, it is also moderately toxic to
humans, fish, and birds. It is very toxic to dogs. Seek other botanical
pesticides before considering ryania.
| || |
Made from the seeds of a tropical plant, sabadilla is a powerful
broad-spectrum insect killer. It's especially useful for controlling
thrips, aphids, flea beetles, and tarnished plant bugs, but it also
kills bees and other beneficial insects, and some people have severe
allergic reactions to the chemical. Use it only as a last resort.
A Child's Garden
"The plants that are closest to you are those from your childhood;
Those are the ones you truly love..."
transcends the boundaries of gender, race, age, and social status.
Working in a garden soothes the anxiety of daily life and for children,
helps them develop an appreciation and anticipation of the natural
world from something as simple as a planted seed breaking through the
ground. Herb gardens stimulate not only the five senses but also the
imagination and curiosity of children and adults. From the first leaf
popping through the soil to the development of a fragrant smell or
interesting texture, herb plants unfailingly tend to attract interest
and speculation. Whether used in medicines or foods, as decorations or
symbols, herbs and garden plants play an important part in the folklore
and history of every culture. Herbs and plants awesome abilities to
survive and adapt in adverse circumstances teach and encourage hope in
tomorrow. Their mysterious and marvelous powers to heal the mind and
body fascinate us and affirm human's connection to the natural world.
plant has a special story to tell. Today there is much focus on
teaching our children the importance of cultural diversity, improving
and building understanding through shared experiences common to all
cultures and families. Every plant has a place of origin, a past,
present and hopefully, a future. Working together toward a common goal
on projects, such as planning and planting gardens with plants used by
different cultures, gives everyone a chance to share recipes and plant
histories. It is a fun and comfortable way of bringing people of all
ages and backgrounds together on the same level. Everyone has a
favorite traditional family food using herbs or spices. Adults become
young again when they share memories of a homeland or a childhood
experience. Children listen and learn that everyone has a family and a
cultural heritage. More importantly, they have a growing knowledge and
understanding of the persons working in the soil beside them.
learn many things when they garden and play outdoors. Perhaps most
notably are the things they learn about their relationships to the
earth. A garden is a place that encourages and invites children to
discover for themselves the magic, wonder, and unexpected surprises
that Mother Nature will reveal to anyone who wants to take a closer
look. We, as adults, all have that special body of knowledge that we
learned on our own as children about the outdoor world. How a wild
strawberry tastes, the smell of wet soil in the spring, or what happens
to an apple after it falls to the ground. We, as adults, have the
awesome responsibility of providing opportunities, companionship, and
guidance to encourage and stimulate children down a path of
A Chinese proverb spells it out well:
"I HEAR AND I FORGET
I SEE AND I REMEMBER
I DO AND I UNDERSTAND"
garden does and will talk back, sharing successes and failures to those
who love to garden. Failure is part of the gardening experience. How
children learn to respond to failures will decide the success of their
gardens and gardening experience.
Patient and tolerant, herbs
are very adaptable to various growing conditions. Children differ in
their interests, personalities and aptitudes. Herb gardens can be just
as unique and individual as the child or group planning and planting a
garden. Schoolyard gardens can be integrated into school curriculum to
be used as living laboratories. Gardens and outdoor spaces can teach
the most important lesson of science--- the ability to observe. It is
much easier to instill a fundamental part of science into children
using a garden, rather than a dull classroom lecture. Actually
experiencing the lessons with a hands on approach could transform a
child's knowledge. In a computer class they can record rain fall and
chart plant growth rates. Students can explore the effects of plants on
civilizations in social studies. Actually bringing plants mentioned in
children's literature into the classroom can bring stories/histories
alive. Tasting Peter Rabbit's chamomile tea, holding Othelia's bouquet
help make the language of flowers real in Beatrix Potter's stories and
William Shakespeare's tales of life and love real.
many fine reasons for wanting to introduce children to gardening. We
need to realize, as adults, that a child must have a child's reasons
for wanting to grow a garden. No matter how we plot and plan and reason
why and how children should practice gardening, the most important
thing is to inspire children for their own personal enjoyment and
growth. We are cultivating more than gardens, we are cultivating a
sensitivity and appreciation for the environment, an important step
toward becoming responsible and joyful stewards of the earth.
Popular seeds to grow your own colorful and fragrant herbs for
relaxing teas and bath blends.
The flower tops make a calming tea that helps ease pain and promote
restful sleep. Steep the dried flower tops for 1/2 hour in boiling
The seeds are soothing for the digestive system, calms the liver and
helps you manage anger. Make a tea or chew the seeds.
A tea or bath with the whole plant builds confidence in your ability
to attract health and well-being.
A tea made with the flowers and leaves relaxes the mind and body
when it feels stressed by the environment. Traditionally know to
ease drug and alcohol withdrawl symptoms.
Pleasant mint that soothes upset stomach and headaches.Add the dried
leaves to flavor tea and rice dishes.
The root makes a calming tea that works as a central nervous system
relaxant that helps you fall asleep. When you need to relax, just by
walking in the garden you can feel renewed with the hyptonic
fragrance of the fresh flowers growing.
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RE:Vegetable and Fruit Gardening
(Date Posted:02/13/2009 01:39 AM)
The Pentacle Garden
(excerpt from: Wicca Garden by Gerina Dunwich)
a level spot in a sunny location for your pentagram herb garden. Drive
a stake into the ground where you wish the center of the garden to be.
Tie one end of a string to the stake, and the other end to a bottle
filled with sand (Use a string four feet long if you are making a
pentagram garden with a diameter of eight feet; three feet of string
for one with a diameter of six feet, and so forth).
string taut, turn the bottle upside down, allowing the sand to slowly
pour out as you walk clockwise in a complete circle. The sand will mark
the outer circle of the pentagram, which you can then cover with
bricks, stones, seashells, etc.
Remove the stake, string and bottle, and then prepare the soil within the circle.
the edge of a board as a guide, lay down five straight lines of bricks
or stones inside the circle to form a symbol of the five pointed star.
the pentagram outline is complete, you can then begin planting herbs in
the garden. Too add even more intrest to it, plant different species of
herbs in each section of the pentagram and put a small sundial,
birdbath, goddess statue or other garden decoration the center. If the
pentagram is outlined with bricks, use paint of chalk to decorate them
with magickal and astrological symbols.
Tips for Planning and Planting
location. For bumper harvests, grow vegetables in a sunny, well-drained
area. Fall is the best time to break new ground and enrich soil for
spring planting. Organic amendments—such as compost, manure, and peat
moss—have time to blend in over winter. With a spade or tiller, turn
the earth to a depth of 8 to 10 inches before the ground freezes. The
loose soil will dry more quickly in spring.
you are starting from scratch in the spring, follow the same procedure.
Simply wait until the soil has dried out. To test whether soil is ready
to work, squeeze some in your hand, then poke at the clump. If the
clump breaks up easily into small crumbs, the soil is dry enough to
cool-season crops—peas, lettuce, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, radish,
carrot, onion, and chard—as soon as the soil thaws and dries to a
crumbly texture. Wait until after frost danger is past to plant
warm-season tomatoes, beans, corn, cucumbers, squash, pumpkins, melons,
peppers, and eggplants.
Starting off right.
can start most vegetables from seeds sown directly in the garden. To
get a jump on the growing season, purchase transplants, or start your
own indoors in late winter on a sunny window sill or under grow-lights.
Follow instructions on individual seed packets for specific planting
recommendations. To keep your garden moist and weed-free, mulch around
plants with a few inches of organic material, such as straw or cocoa
bean hulls. During dry spells, water deeply once each week. Eliminate
insect pests as they appear, using insecticidal soap or other natural
Extending the harvest.
good planning and care, you can reap fresh garden produce from spring
through fall. If summer crops finish early, replant the gaps with
second sowings of lettuces and peas. Started in late August, salad
ingredients will flourish during the cooler days of autumn. When hard
frost threatens, you can keep fall crops growing by covering rows with
an insulative garden fabric, such as Reemay. Chilly weather enhances
the flavor, color, and crunch of many leafy vegetables, particularly
kale and radicchio.
Planting And Care Of Shrubs
In general, trees and shrubs are planted and cared for in
the same way, the difference between them being chiefly one
of height. One definition of the difference, however, is
that while a tree has only one trunk, a shrub has several
stems or trunks.
Not so long ago the number of reliable shrubs was quite
limited, but today the many new hybrids have lengthened the
list and the gardener's choice is almost endless. No matter
the region, it is now possible to plant shrubs that will
satisfy color needs, bloom at various seasons, cover bare
spots where grass won't grow, or grow in such profusion and
depth that screening purposes are served.
Shrubs are valuable to the gardener because they bridge the
gap between trees and flowers. As do trees, they serve as
boundary markers, soften the lines of buildings, act as a
decorative background for flower beds and hide unsightly
Like flowers, they add character and shape to the garden,
blooming forth with colorful blossoms and attracting birds
with their berries. One big item in their favor is that
they mature rapidly, yet remain as hardy and long-lived as
Planting of shrubs is tittle different from planting of
trees. Early spring is the most favorable time since it
gives the plant a long spell of good growing weather to get
reestablished. In the milder sections of the country,
however, transplanting may be done through the winter months.
In New England, evergreens may be planted in September and
May, and deciduous shrubs in October and May.
Dry roots are the chief cause of planting failures, and
steps should be taken to prevent this-i.e., balling and
burlapping, and heeling in. After receiving shrubs from a
nursery, water as soon as possible; shade them from sunshine
at first, mulch the ground around them, and prune back
The older the plant you get, the more severely it will have
to be cut back, so that in the long run, you come out just
as well buying the less expensive, smaller shrubs. Forsythia
and azalea may be moved while in flower, but most plants
Watering in the fall, before the ground freezes, is import-
ant for box, azalea, rhododendron, mountain laurel and
broadleaf evergreens, whose leaves lose moisture in winter.
Pruning of shrubs helps to keep them young and vigorous.
Rather than cutting all branches off to an even length,
prune out the older branches, even though they may be sound.
With lilacs, for example, use a keyhole saw, and cut as
close to the ground as possible, cutting out the oldest
Some shrubs need pruning every year, especially those which
have dead branches as a result of winterkill. (These include
some deutzias, hydrangeas, buddleia, spireas and privets.)
Other shrubs such as rhododendron, azaleas, magnolia and
buddleia should have the flower heads pruned off after
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RE:Vegetable and Fruit Gardening
(Date Posted:02/13/2009 01:40 AM)
Variegated Foliage Can Set Your Garden Apart
Color ... it's what we all want in a garden, right? But in
spite of the amazing array of flower colors, an aspect that
we don't always plan for is the color of foliage. Japanese
gardens take the concept of designing a garden with only
foliage to extremes, beautiful extremes. Their meditative
gardens have only shades and tones of green. This gives the
garden a refined air that lends itself to contemplation and
Green foliage actually comes in all shades -- from the kelly
green of asters and woodland tobacco -- to the chartreuse of
sweet potato vine and golden moneywort; from the blue-green
of English ivy and baptisia to the gray-green of yarrow.
Each makes a different statement, and combinations of shades
of green with varying textures make beautiful statements.
White, the most versatile color of all, blends other colors
and lightens the garden while tying together garden areas,
softening strong colors, and leading the gaze from one area
to another. Variegated foliage is a natural white element to
do this with, and brightly variegated foliage often gives
the appearance of a floral display. Picture a green and
white caladium; it almost looks like flowers in the shade!
Variegated foliage brightens and lightens a shady area.
Variegated plants are generally used as focal points, so
keep this in mind when designing your garden. Mixing a lot
of different plants with variegated leaves creates a jumble
that isn't soothing. A foundation planting of all variegated
plants would be confusing to the eye, and frankly, have just
too much energy to enjoy.
Keep in mind that plants with white variegation do quite
well in shade, although they will be slower growing than in
sun. Plants with yellow variegation do best in sun as they
tend to fade in shade.
There is also an amazing range of plants with red and purple
foliage, very much in demand by gardeners. Red foliage tends
to make an area recede, and gives a rich subtlety to the
garden. It is spectacular in contrast to bright green or
Plant a Bath Garden and Make These Herbal Bath Formulas
Adapted from Herbal Remedy Gardens, by Dorie Byers.
of us are flipping through seed catalogs at this time of year. Consider
planning and planting a garden full of herbs appropriate to use in your
bath! A bonus is that you can pick the herbs you would like to use for
a cleansing, fragrant soak after gardening chores!
container bath garden uses various-sized containers arranged in a way
that is pleasing to the eye and accommodates the space you have
available. The staggered container plantings of different widths and
heights lend interest. The two largest containers must be 18 inches in
diameter or larger.
Container Garden Plants
* 2 or 3 lavender (whichever amount your container can hold)
* 1 prostrate rosemary
* 3 sweet marjoram
* 1 peppermint or mint or your choice
* 5 German chamomile
* 1 lemon balm
* 3 calendula
* 1 thyme
birdbath makes an interesting visual centerpiece for this garden that
enhances its theme. A fountain or classical statuary could also be
placed in the center. Divide each planting with a layer of plastic or
newspaper, then cover that layer with mulch, decorative stone, or
brick. Other ideas include an old bathtub planted with herbs, or herbs
planted along a path leading to a small pool and/or fountain.
be cavalier about planting the mint in this garden. If not kept in
check, it will take over and choke out the other plants. To slow this
invasive tendency, plant the mint in a large container sunk into the
ground. It will still want to grow over the edge of the sunken
container, but it can be controlled more easily.
Plot Garden Plants
* 7 lavender
* 2 peppermint or other mint
* 12 Geranium chamomile
* 2 lemon balm
* 3 thyme
* 12 calendula
* 1 or 2 rosemary
* 7 sweet marjoram
CLICK HERE FOR BATH RECIPES
|Grow a Pleasure Garden || |
|By Cait Johnson, author of Earth, Water, Fire, and Air (SkyLight Paths, 2003). |
fun to apply a garden metaphor to our lives now that Spring is nearly
here. If you would like to cultivate a life with more meaningful
pleasure in it, a life connected to nature and to your own deep self,
check out this fun, easy game. You don't need an actual plot of earth
to grow real pleasure for yourself and your life.
some time when you won’t be interrupted and bring a pad and pencil with
you to a quiet place. Now, without thinking too hard, just writing down
whatever occurs to you first, answer this question:
What are 30 things that you truly enjoy doing?
This could be anything from stroking your cat to chatting with a close
friend, or from taking a walk in the woods at sunset to doing a
crossword puzzle, making love with your partner to painting a picture.
Write them all down.
draw a circle on another sheet of paper and divide it with an X into 4
quadrants. Label each quadrant with one of these elements:
1 - Earth--physical/sensual
2 - Water--emotional/feeling
3 - Fire--spiritual
4 - Air--intellectual/thinking and communicating
look at your list of 30 pleasure-making activities. In which quadrant
does each one belong? Write each of your 30 activities in the quadrant
(or quadrants) that makes the most deep sense to you. For instance, cooking
a delicious meal would probably be earth, sharing stories with a close
friend might be water, doing a crossword puzzle, air. Some activities
may bridge two or more elements: taking a walk in the woods is both
earth and fire for me, for example, so see which activities of yours
belong in more than one section of your circle.
ever said the sections of our life-garden need to be balanced, but do
you notice that one or more of yours is heavier or lighter than the
others? What pleasures could you add to your scanty quadrants? Imagine
some things you could do to bring more life and pleasure to the parts
of your garden that may be neglected, and write them down. Commit to
tasting at least one pleasure every day. And enjoy the process of
keeping your Pleasure Garden well-tended!
usertype:1 tt= 0
RE:Vegetable and Fruit Gardening
(Date Posted:02/13/2009 01:41 AM)
|Follow these tips for welcoming birds and butterflies to your yard.|| |
| Source: Better Homes & Gardens|
you welcome birds and butterflies to your yard, you add colors,
movements, and sounds that make your garden seem more alive and
vibrant. The following tips from the National Audubon Society will help
you create a habitat that allows wildlife to flourish.
- Plant for food sources.
Birds are attracted to seeds, berries, fruits, and nectar. Migrating
birds such as tanagers, robins, orioles, and Cedar Waxwings may stop
for several days to feast before they continue on their long flights.
Butterflies -- essential pollinators in the garden -- need flowers that
have nectar, such as those in the Aster family.
- Offer a variety of plants
for nesting and protection from predators. Bushy shrubs, canopy trees,
and groundcovers will provide the nooks and crannies birds and other
wildlife need to nest and find good. Such plants also provide
protection from sun, wind, and rain.
- A water source is essential. The
single most important thing you can do to attract birds is to provide a
source of dripping water. Keep it low to the ground, but make sure it's
protected from cats.
- Create a dust bath.
Birds use dust baths to clean themselves and get rid of parasites. Try
building a small area (about 3 feet square) bordered with attractive
rocks or bricks. Fill with loose soil (a mix of sand, ash, and loam).
The bath will attract native sparrows, thrashers, and other
- Provide nesting materials. Fill
a loosely woven net bag with clean dryer lint or scraps of yarn or
string. Make sure the holes in the bag are large enough for birds to
pull out bits for their nests. Orioles, robins, and chickadees will be
- Offer supplemental food.
If you live in a cold climate, offer a supplemental food source, such
as seeds, suet, and fruit, during the winter months for woodpepckeers,
bluebirds, and other species.
- Plan for windbreaks for shelter. If
your climate is windy, provide shelter in your wildlife-friendly
garden. Plant tall, deciduous trees at the edge of the property, with
progressively smaller trees and shrubs as you near the house.
- Provide perches.
Although butterflies are attracted to tubular, nectar-bearing flowers,
they also need flat flowers where they can rest. A good variety of
flowers, shrubs, and trees will provide plenty of resting sites. Birds
need exposed perching places; dead twigs and small snags are the most
beneficial. Thin bamboo poles stuck into the ground will attract
- Plant groundcovers and create slopes.
Birds such as sparrows, thrashers, and thrushes find their food among
fallen leaves and groundcovers, where they search for insects.
Rosemary, Lantana, and creeping juniper are good choices.
Creating artificial slopes in the garden provide more nooks and
crannies for birds to forage.
- Provide a variety of plants. Birds
and butterflies are attracted to colorful, flowering plants that
provide food and camouflage. It's important to select plants that
produce seeds and fruit in various seasons of the year.
Designing A Pentagram Garden
my. What to plant, what to plant!?!?!? So many green growing things, so
little time and space! We won't actually be putting anything in the
ground until next issue, but let's get started laying out an imaginary
garden. This is a very pagan garden, as you will see. I have chosen 13
herbs, and we will walk through how you might choose to lay them out.
are some pretty fascinating mathematics behind this well-loved
geometric shape we call a pentacle. You can immerse yourself in
discovering those (it's fun, but it can make you crazy!), you can
"eyeball" it, or you can use any other layout that pleases you. This
particular garden would need to be at least 8 foot square, a size that
will allow for one fairly compact herb in each point, and one larger,
more spreading type of herb for the arcs between the points. We get 13
herbs by planting each point, each arc, the central pentagon, and
pairing up the north and south corners of the square enclosing the
circle of our pentacle.
- Lemon Balm (often called simply Balm)
- Lemon Verbena
(Rosemary makes a lovely centerpiece for the garden, and it tends to
weather our mostly mild Virginia winters fairly well, so barring
mishaps, you can expect it to be there for years.)
- Mugwort (can grow 5 or 6 feet tall, so I put this in the north so that the shade it makes will fall away from the garden)
- Peppermint (this one is a real spreader - good to keep at the edge of the garden to help to contain it)
these herbs growing in your garden, your herbal arsenal will soon serve
you nicely in many ways, both magickal and medicinal. Some (and I
repeat, SOME - a little research will reveal lots more!) are listed
below: Antiseptic - Lavender, Thyme Bites, insect - Basil, Lemon Balm, Sage Bruises - Pennyroyal, Rosemary, Tansy, Thyme Colds, flu, fevers - Peppermint, Rosemary, Sage Coughs - Basil, Peppermint, Rosemary, Thyme Happiness - Catnip, Lemon Balm, Lavender, Thyme Headache - Basil, Pennyroyal, Rosemary. Migraine headache - Lavender, Peppermint, Lemon Balm Insomnia - Catnip, Lemon Balm, Lemon Verbena Memory - Rosemary, Sage Menstrual cramps, PMS - Lemon Balm, Lemon Verbena, Peppermint, Yarrow Mouth and teeth problems - Lemon Balm, Rosemary, Thyme, Yarrow Skin problems - Pennyroyal, Peppermint, Rosemary, Tansy, Thyme Sore throats - Lemon Balm infusion mixed with honey and vinegar, Sage Stomach - Basil, Sage Sunburn - Tansy To attract bees - Lemon Balm (also called Bee Balm), Thyme To repel moths - Lavender To repel fleas, flies, wood ticks, gnats and mosquitoes - Pennyroyal To stop bleeding - Yarrow
Resources: Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs - Scott Cunningham The Herb Book - John Lust Herbs & Things - Jeanne Rose Back to Eden - Jethro Kloss Magical Aromatherapy - Scott Cunningham Magical Herbalism - Scott Cunningham The Way of Herbs - Michael Tierra
usertype:1 tt= 0
RE:Vegetable and Fruit Gardening
(Date Posted:02/13/2009 01:42 AM)
Design with Herbs
Create an herb garden that's a feast for the eyes.
My herbs grow well enough, but they are not particularly pretty. How
can I redesign my garden so it looks as good as it tastes and smells?
Most herbs earn their places based on usefulness rather than looks, but
this does not mean that an herb garden can’t be beautiful. Borrow a few
ideas from flower garden design to create an herb garden that pleases
all of your senses.
First, let’s consider a few practical
points. Culinary herbs, in particular, need to be accessible because
you shouldn’t have to tiptoe among other plants each time you want a
few snips of basil or parsley. Edges are always the easiest places to
reach, so the more edges you have, the better. This is one of the
reasons why long, border-type gardens are so popular. Circular gardens
are fun, too, with edges inside the circle as well as along its rim.
precise shape doesn’t matter, but in the interest of neatness, all
edges should be well defined. This can be done with plants, brick,
stone, wood or low panels of hand-made wattle (slender green sticks
woven between upright posts).
In a border viewed from one
side, short or mound-forming plants should go in the front, with taller
ones in the rear, so the plants are stacked into layers according to
height. If the bed is more than 4 feet deep, include steppingstones
inside the bed so you’ll be able to move around freely between your
plants. In a round, square or rectangular garden, place the tallest
plants in the center.
Most herbs are compact little plants, so
it can be challenging to give an herb garden a strong vertical accent,
which is important. If the garden is seen from one side, a few panels
of picket fence along the back will do the trick, or you can structure
the back with evergreen shrubs. In a non-linear garden, you can get
vertical drama by installing a trellis planted with a climbing rose or
a vigorous vine, such as passionflower, in the center. In very small
gardens, a stone pedestal topped with a gazing ball, sundial or statue
draws the eye upward. The goal is to get some kind of vertical action
going, which creates more visual excitement than a knee-high sea of
The next task is to create order, which is easily done
by repeating one plant in a predictable, rhythmic pattern. Parsley is
invaluable for this job, but any herb that grows remarkably well for
you can be used to create unity in the garden. Simply repeat the plant
at regular intervals so it becomes the garden’s “beat.” The important
thing is to repeat the plant at predictable points within the design,
such as at corners of a square or in the middle of matching sections of
Now think about color and contrast. Most herbs are
either green or gray-green, and few herbs produce brightly colored
flowers. Jazz things up by adding color plants like red basil,
scarlet-stemmed chard or orange nasturtiums. Be bold because the sunny
exposures herbs prefer are no place for extra pastels, which disappear
in bright light. To sharpen the contrast, place plants with red leaves
or bright flowers next to frosty gray foliage; for example, place red
basil alongside helichrysum. Rich red petunias or geraniums do wonders
for clumps of lavender.
You can put texture to work to great
advantage, too. For example, plants with grassy foliage, such as
chives, garlic and lemongrass, have a very different texture from leafy
lemon balm, which in turn is quite unlike salad burnet in both texture
and hue. To make the most of these texture changes without creating a
mess, grow like plants together in clumps or drifts, so that one
texture gets a fair turn saying “look at me” before the eye moves on to
the next subject. Keeping like plants together also simplifies pruning,
dividing and other maintenance chores.
We’re almost done, but we
still need a few showy plants that will work as focal points — pretty
curiosities such as variegated horseradish or tricolored sage. Look for
plants that keep their good looks for a long season because these are
your spotlight dancers. In a pinch, a warren of cute concrete bunnies
Play with your design ideas on paper, which is easier than doing it in the dirt.
also wise to keep your design as simple as possible because highly
structured planting plans, for example knot gardens, limit the types of
plants that can be used, and demand constant upkeep. Above all,
remember that your design is a plan, and like all good plans, it should
include a bit of flexibility. Herb gardens change constantly, so they
are always a work in progress.
Gardening By the Zodiac
Cancer – best for planting all leafy crops bearing fruit above ground. Prune to encourage growth in Cancer.
Scorpio – Second only to Cancer. A Scorpion Moon promises good germination and quick growth. In Scorpio, prune for bud development.
Pisces – Planting in the last of the Watery Triad is especially effective for root growth.
Taurus – The best time to plant root crops
Capricorn – promotes the growth of rhizomes, bulbs, roots, tubers, and stalks. Prune now to strengthen branches.
Libra – Libra may be the least beneficial of the Fruitful Signs, but is excellent for planting flowers and vines.
Leo – Foremost of the barren signs. Leo is the best time to effectively destroy weeds and pests. Cultivate and till the soil.
Gemini – gather herbs and roots. Reap when the Moon is in the sign of Air or Fire to assure best storage.
Virgo – Plow, cultivate, and control weeds and pests when the moon is in Virgo.
Sagittarius – plant and cultivate the soil or harvest under the Archer Moon. Prune now to discourage growth
Aquarius – perfect for ground cultivation, reaping crops, gathering roots and herbs. It is a good time to destroy weeds and pests.
Aries – Cultivate, weed, and prune to lessen growth. Gather herbs and roots for storage.
CELEBRATE THE DARK BY STARTING A GARDEN
bottoms of cardboard egg cartons. When you have two or three, set them
in a baking dish with about an inch of sand on the bottom. Wedge them
in nice and tight but don't lose their shape. Fill with good potting
soil and place in a sunny window. Get a variety of lettuce, parsley,
basil, and other leafy green plant seeds. put three or four seeds in
each cup and sprinkle with water to moisten. Cover with a piece of
plastic and leave alone until you see the first two leaves. You can
take the plastic off, but be sure to keep the plants moist but not
soggy. In about 4 to 6 weeks, you will have large enough plants to clip
leaves off of to use on a daily(ish) basis.
When you want to
transplant them, do so, cardboard cup and all, into larger pots, three
or four plants per pot. If you are using clay pots, be sure to soak
them in water first because clay absorbs LOTS of water. Use good
potting soil with lots of organic matter. When safe from frosts, let
them get used to being outside. If it's very hot or cold or windy, put
them outside for a little while each day for the first few days.
Actually, even if you don't harden them, the only things that will
really kill them is to let them dry out or freeze
usertype:1 tt= 0
RE:Vegetable and Fruit Gardening
(Date Posted:02/13/2009 01:43 AM)
Crash Course In A Witchs Garden
by: Lady of the Earth
considering our Health, we cannot separate it from our Environment. The
Earth's Health Influences and Reflects our own. As Witch's, we are
responsible for caring for our environment because we understand this
"Interconnectedness ". The Garden is an excellent place to begin a
Ripple Effect of Healing by tending it in a sustainable manner. This
Healing can be seen by the increase of vitamins in the foods we've
grown organically. Subtle Healing Effects will gradually become evident
as gaps in life cycles are filled. All forms of Wildlife and Insects
will return to the Garden and Renew the Essential Balance, Eliminating
the need for Pesticides, Herbicides, and Chemical Fertilizers. The
garden will also Renew your Balance and Life Force.
the garden will Tone your body, Clarify your mind, and Energize your
Spirit. Other side effects of your Healthy Garden will become apparent
in all aspects of your life. Healing Formulas, Spell Components, and
any other Creations that incorporate plants grown in this Magickal
manner will all have enormously Magnified Energy.
this method, go to an Undisturbed area like a woodland plot, Secluded
area of a park, or under a large, healthy shrub. Notice that when
you're under a canopy of foliage the atmosphere is different. It smells
Moist, and Soothing. Touch the soil. Generally, it will be
Soft and Spongy, with layers of newly accumulated debris, and below
that, Humus rich soil in many stages of decomposition. The soil here
contains Microorganisms whose Sacred Names include: Fungi, Protozoa,
Yeast, Worms, and Insects. These life forms are known collectively as
"Edaphon". Life flows through everything here and you may begin to feel
more Balanced. This feeling is the Essence of a Witch's method of
gardening. There's more to this than the standard gardening techniques,
Soil consists of: 93% Mineral and 7% Bio-Organic substances. The
Bio-Organic parts include: 85% Humus, 10% Roots, and 5% Edaphon. The
Edaphon consists of: 40% Fungi/Algae, 40% Bacteria/Actinomyce te, 12%
Earthworms, 5% Macro Fauna, and 3% Micro/Mesofauna.
After a year
of Organic Treatment, Earthworms, or "Tiny Tillers", should flourish.
Chemical Fertilizers Kill Earthworms and other soil life that release
Carbonic Acid (Plant Roots do too). This Acid Converts Minerals in the
soil to a form that plants can assimilate.
Soil Nutrients are to
plants what Proteins, Fats, Carbohydrates, Vitamins, and Minerals are
to people. Air, All Gasses, including Carbon Dioxide or CO2, Water,
Earth and Fire (Sun) are essential to the plant world. Synthetic forms
of Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium (N, P, and K respectively) in
chemical fertilizers are stated on packages like 15-30-15 or 10-5-5.
These Salt Based Fertilizers will readily wash out of the soil and into
our water systems. Undines Look Out!
We must Regularly Replace
Non-Organic Forms of these Nutrients because of this constant leeching.
Salts Accumulate in the upper soil surfaces and "Burn" tender roots and
soil life. Potted plants will show evidence of this build up with
powdery white deposits on the soil surface or a ring on the pot. Most
plants cannot tolerate this much salt in any form. This is a good
reason to try Not to use Salt in outdoor rituals for circle casting or
purification. Instead, use a truly sacred replacement such as Compost
or Soil for the Earth Element. I've used soil from my birthplace, as
well as soil from a fellow Witch's Garden to help link with them when
being together in person isn't possible.
Fertilizers cause plant cells to grow too quickly, developing thin cell
walls. The spaces between each cell are larger too, causing the entire
plant to be more susceptible to insects and disease. These plant
for the easiest path to lunch, and the thin cell
walls and gaps between them are an open invitation. By invading your
crops, these pesky predators are fulfilling an essential duty, that of
restoring balance and eliminating problems.
So, you ask, how can
I Nourish my Garden, Self and Planet? The following represents a basic
outline of techniques to get you started:
will unlock the Nutrients from the components you put in the compost
pile. Begin by making a four foot diameter place in your garden in part
sun. Next, layer 4-6 inches of Carbon materials, "Browns," with 1-2
inches of Nitrogen material, "Greens." Mystickal formulas of Carbon to
Nitrogen Ratios can be found in many superb garden grimoires. However,
you will find that Intuition, Observation, and Experimentation provide
the best results. The following describes the basic compost cauldron
components and guidelines for their use.
are sources of Nitrogen, a plant Nutrient that helps Heat up a compost
pile by Activating the Micro Life in it. Sources Include: Fresh Green
Weeds, Kitchen Scraps, Manure, Cottonseed Meal, and Blood Meal.
"Browns" are Carbon materials like Straw, Hay, last year's Garden
Debris, Crop Residue, Chopped Leaves, and Sticks under a half inch in
X DON'T USE X
Oil, Wax, Meat (small, clean
bones are OK), Colored Newspaper, Weeds that have Set Seed, Diseased or
Pest Infested Plants, and Pet Wastes or Litters. (which can carry
diseases, among other problems)
Invoke the powers
of the microbial soil life with a half inch layer of garden soil
sprinkled over each "Green" layer. When the pile reaches about 4 feet
high, water it well to the consistency of a wrung out sponge, and let
it rot! It will slowly turn into fertilizer that feeds your plants and
your soil without interrupting the Symbiotic Relationship between the
two. When it is done, it will be Brown and Crumbly. This process can
take from 2 weeks to 6 months. If you're in a hurry, you can speed
things up by turning it every week. To turn a pile, remove the top and
outside layers and put them on the ground beside the pile. Then
continue with the next layers until you've tuned it upside down while
fluffing it to let it breathe. If the pile smells bad, or if flies are
taking an interest in it, then turn the pile, incorporate more
"Browns," make sure it's not soggy (cover it in the rain), and cover
the top of the heap with an inch of soil or hay to eliminate the
problem and disapproving looks from neighbors. Finished compost is used
as a fertilizer and mulch around and under plants.
Plants and Weeds with Seeds require Hot compost, one that reaches
140-165 degrees. This technique is best left for more experienced
practitioners who are more adept at its mysteries. Use these plant
materials as Erosion Control far from the garden, burn them, or if
necessary, dispose of them in the regular garbage. Meanwhile, train
yourself in hot compost Magick through Reading, Intuition, and
Nearly all Organic forms of Nitrogen, like those
used in making compost, contain varying amounts of Phosphorus,
Potassium, and Trace Minerals. Composting ingredients that contain high
percentages of these nutrients will improve your end fertilizer. Trace
Minerals can be derived from plants with literally rock breaking,
carrot-like tap roots that explore 25 feet or more down into the Earth.
These plants include Dandelions, Alfalfa, Comfrey, and Plantain.
their Leaves as a "Green" and let the roots put forth new
leaves for the next compost pile. The older the plant, the better the
fertilizer, as the roots have probed even deeper into the Earth.
and Potassium are present in most Crop Residues and Manure, but you may
need to Supplement your soil or compost with additional sources. Your
local extension service can provide information on soil tests that help
determine what amendments will improve your soil's nutrient levels.
These tests can be costly, but if problems arise they will guide you in
restoring soil balance. Greens and Rock Phosphate (NOT Superphosphate
that damages earthworms and other soil life), crushed Granite and
Glacier Rock are all good sources. You can apply them directly to the
garden bed according to package directions, or to the compost pile with
a handful between each layer. The amendments come in various packages
and if you can't find them locally.
Compost has Nitrogen in it,
but additional sources may also be desired. The same Manure used in
compost can be applied directly to the soil. Do this several weeks
before planting to give the manure time to mellow. Cover Crops are
grown exclusively to Feed the Soil with Nitrogen and other nutrients.
When mature, they are tilled under, and the soil life transforms them
into fertilizer. Life is provided for by Death. Every cover crop has
different amounts and types of Nutrients. Wheat, Oats, Calendula,
Buckwheat, and Legumes are all common cover crops. Legumes are most
often used because they are a group of plants such as Clover, Beans,
and Peas that "Fix" Nitrogen. They have a Symbiotic Relationship with a
type of soil life known as Nematodes.
Nematodes take Nitrogen from the Air and "Fix" it to the Legume's
Roots. They look like tiny white potatoes clinging to the root system.
They release Nitrogen to the plant, helping it thrive. When the crop of
legumes is tilled into the soil, it becomes a time release fertilizer
as plants and nematodes break down again.
The following tips
will also help to create your Bewitching Garden. These methods can be
used in any garden, in sun or shade, and can be started any time of the
year with Spring and Summer being ideal.
Beds" save water, compost and amendments that are only used where the
plants grow and not in paths. Crops can be grown closer together which
saves space. You do not need to use the "Space Between Rows"
recommendation from seed packets, since rows are not used. Only the
"Space Between Plants" recommendation is needed. This provides a Canopy
of Foliage that traps CO2 and Soil Moisture like a suspended mulch. The
leaves shade the soil to further reduce weeding and watering chores.
beds wide enough to reach across comfortably, 4 ft. is standard, in
order to save work from bending and straining. Raised beds drain well
to allow plants to develop healthy root systems, and they solve rot
problems in packed clay soil. They also warm faster in the spring for
earlier planting and remain unpacked from foot traffic that would
otherwise choke oxygen from roots and spread disease. If you use
concrete blocks or railroad ties, your bed supports can provide a
convenient resting spot. Make paths wide enough so that you can walk
side by side with friend or partner without breaking off plants.
and Water requirements are kept to a minimum by mulching. Use Compost,
Straw, Hay, Woodchips, Color-Free Newspaper, or special Mulch Papers.
All of these sources will slowly decompose, conditioning the soil and
slowly feeding plants. Mulch will also save your plants when you are
low on compost.
The Garden is a Sacred
Space and Rain is its Consecrated Cleansing. It should have Solitude
during this Purifying time. Mud on shoes or wet skin and tools, can
spread diseases normally not as easily transported without moisture. If
you wish to accompany the garden in this cleansing, do so quietly and
meditatively. If you have urgent work to do, limit your areas of
activity and avoid touching plants.
Your Garden's first year of
withdrawal from chemical dependency may be severe, because the soil
life is insufficient to transform its components into nutrients.
However, after the first year, it will flourish and the trouble is
worth it. While at first resisting the temptation to reach for a quick
fix fertilizer is difficult, be persistent while the balance is being
restored. Talk to and love your friends through it, touching them,
especially the ones in the tobacco family. Members of this family have
fuzzy feelers on their stems and leaves and touching them causes
thickened cell structure and sturdier, disease resistant plants.
grown with these methods will Glow with a Mystickal Aura and they will
Release their Intoxicating Fragrances to greet you on your daily
visits. The Garden will Soothe and Quiet people, perhaps because of an
that something Powerful and Sacred is happening or because of its Visual Beauty.
by the Phases of the Moon, Sabbat's, or under Specific Planetary
Influences will also Amplify the Garden's Energy. This kind of
information can be found in most Almanacs. Planting in Special
Patterns, Celtic Knots, Circles, Pentacles, or any Imaginative Magickal
Design that you've created will also Enhance and Focus Energy.
(Message edited by Autumn_Heather On 02/13/2009 02:10 AM)
Source: Frugal Life News
We all know that vinegar has a hundred uses in the home, but it can be used in the garden also.
Kill Grass and Weeds
full strength in any area where you do not want anything to grow. Be
careful not to put it on a slope that will cause it to run down into an
area that you want things to grow in. This stuff really works, so use
it carefully. You can apply it with a spray bottle.
Dirty Planter and Pots
and pots begin to look old and crummy with the salt buildup from
watering. Soak the stains in full strength vinegar. You can use a
sponge to soak and then to rub off.
strength vinegar will keep ants from going into the house if you spray
around doorways or any opening you know exists. You'll have to reapply
at least two times a week, so leave the bottle right inside the door to
Freshen Your Cut Flowers
Vinegar helps flowers to last longer in the vase. Add about 1 T. to 2 cups of water and also add 1 a pinch of sugar
usertype:1 tt= 0
RE:Vegetable and Fruit Gardening
(Date Posted:02/13/2009 01:45 AM)
was once a wide belief that cutting or burning ferns brought rain, and
in some districts this also applied to heather. Other rain-bringing
methods included sprinkling water on stones whilst reciting a charm, or
tossing a little flour into a spring and stirring with a hazel-rod. In
mediaeval times images of the saints were often dipped into water
during a drought.
charms to drive away rain are still common today, the most famous being
'Rain, rain, go away, come again another day'. A variant on this charm
offers to bribe the rain to go:
'Rain, rain, go away
Come again tomorrow day
When I brew and when I bake
I'll give you a little cake'.
was believed to have healing properties when it fell on particular
days, especially Ascension day, or rain that fell at any time during
the month of June. The water must be collected after falling directly
from the sky; rain which ran off leaves or off the roof was useless. A
Welsh belief was that babies bathed in rainwater talked earlier than
others, and that money washed in rainwater would never be stolen.
Rain Weather Lore: Rain which falls from a fairly clear sky is likely to continue falling in short bursts for some time.
If it rains in the very early morning, the weather may clear up by the afternoon - 'Rain before seven, shine by eleven'
many traditions and cultures stars are thought to be the souls of
either unborn souls, or those who had passed away. In some cultures a
shooting star foretells a birth, and is said to be the soul racing to
animate the newborn baby, while in other places the shooting star
foretells a death, or a soul released from purgatory. In some Native
American traditions the Milky Way was considered a soul-road, where
souls travelled on their journey after death, and that the brightest
stars were campfires by which they rested on their travels.
is unlucky to point at a star, or to try to count them. However, making
a wish on the first star of evening will ensure its fulfilment,
espeically if the wisher repeats the old rhyme:
'Star light, star bright
First star I see tonight
Wish I may, wish I might
Have the wish I wish tonight'.
wish made while a shooting star is seen in the sky will be granted if
it is made very quickly; an old French cure for pimples was to pass a
cloth over them while a shooting star fell.
Star Weather Lore:
If the stars look larger and brighter than usual, and very flickery, rain or a storm may be on the way.
If faint stars have disappeared and cannot be seen at all, the wind is about to rise.
Birdscaping Your Garden
Adapted from Birdscaping Your Garden, by George Adams.
How do you turn your yard into an inviting sanctuary where birds
will come to nest, raise their families and seek shelter for the
The way to start is to look at your yard from a bird’s
eye view. Find a vantage point where you can see the whole front
yard or backyard at once (try the back steps or an upstairs window).
Then ask yourself these questions … (your answers will help you plan
* Are there places for birds to hide? Songbirds need protective cover from potential enemies like cats, snakes and hawks
Are there places for birds to nest? Birds will be drawn to your yard
during the breeding season if you have inviting places for them to
next, such as trees, shrubs, hedges, brambles and even vines.
Are there sheltered areas where birds can protect themselves from the
elements? Evergreens, shrubs planted against walls and other sheltered
areas will give birds a place out of the cold, wind and rain.
Is there food and water? Bird feeders and birdbaths are great helps to
overwintering birds (in fact, a heated birdbath is often critical to
But during the rest of the year, it’s
important to provide natural food sources — flower nectar, grass
seedheads, fruits, berries and a diversity of plants to attract
insects, since many songbirds are insectivores. You can landscape for
winter by choosing plants that keep their berries or seeds well into
the coldest months. You’ll find that the extra color and texture these
plants provide really perk up your landscape, too!
small pond, pool or puddle will attract thirsty birds and an
interesting assortment of wildlife, including frogs, toads and
8 Steps To A New Garden From Scratch
Source: Better Homes & Gardens
Step 1: Mark It Out~
your new garden the best it can be. Give it a fun shape with flowing
curves or use it to echo the lines of your house. Get it just right by
laying out a hose to outline your bed. Once you have it right, mark
the edges with a line of sand or flour.
Step 2: Get Rid of the Grass~
you have grass growing in your new garden spot, dig it up with a spad
or sod cutter. Or, if you have time to wait, mow that area as low as
you can, then cover it with a several-sheet-thick layer of newspaper
and several inches of soil or compost. Wait a couple of months for the
grass to die.
Step 3: Dig It Up~
comes the digging. Dig up or till your new garden, removing rocks,
roots or other debris. If you have poor soil, now's also a great time
to incorporate organic matter, such as compost. Just dig it in while
you work the ground.
Step 4: Edge Your New Bed~
the lawn from crawling into your garden with a good edge. A trench
about 8 inches deep and a couple of inches wide will stop even the
worst invaders from crossing. Alternatively, sink an edging material
around the perimeter of your garden.
Step 5: Site Your Plants~
it takes a little extra time, placing all your plants before you put
them in the ground can make a world of difference. This allows you to
get the spacing just right and make your plants really look good next
to each other.
Step 6: Get Planting~
you know all of your plants are in exactly the right spots, plant them
in the ground. It's helpful to loosen or tease the plants' roots
before you put them in the ground, especially if they are rootbound.
Step 7: Spread Mulch~
than amending the soil, the best thing you can do to deep your new
garden healthy and low-maintenance is to spread mulch. A 2-inch-deep
layer of shredded wood or other material will do wonders for stopping
weeds and helping your soil conserve moisture during times of drought.
Step 8: Water It In~
your bed is planted and mulched, give your plants a good soaking.
Hint: If you mulch is dry, it may absorb some water before your plants
can. Soak dry mulch well to make sure your plants get enough moisture.
usertype:1 tt= 0
RE:Vegetable and Fruit Gardening
(Date Posted:02/13/2009 02:11 AM)
Spring Cleaning for the Garden
Late spring is ideal for planting and dividing perennials. By now you
should have a good idea of what survived the winter and needs dividing,
or transplanting if you're planning on redesigning the garden.
Check the soil using a soil tester to see if you need to adjust the pH
or add nutrients. If you don't have a soil tester, your county
extension agent's office will usually perform this service for free.
Call to find out what you need to do and when you need to do it.
Prune flowering shrubs when they have finished blooming. Fruit trees
should be pruned when they are still dormant (before flowering)
so if you're in a northern climate you still might have time. Otherwise wait until fall.
Turn the compost pile. Now that it's warm again, those organisms will
be swinging into action turning those leaves, grass clippings,
and kitchen waste into rich organic soil.
Weed control. It's a fact of life that the weeds in the garden grow
faster than the flowers and vegetables you plant. Not really, but it
sure seems like it, so that's why it's important to stay on top of the
weeding. It's a lot easier to pull a few weeds every day or squirt them
with a natural weed killer as you stroll by the garden beds than to
pull a lot of weeds once a month.
~ Heleigh Bostwick, Making Gardens Greener
The Fall Garden
you are in a cold climate with frost you'll need to store your
non-hardy bulbs as we mentioned last week in the article link. There
are many ways gardeners store bulbs until they can be planted out in
the spring. The main things they need are to be dry, cool and dark. One
easy method is to wrap each bulb, tuber or rhizome in newspaper and
then store them in a cardboard box. Shoe boxes work great for this.
Label the box, place the bulbs inside, packing loosely and put the lid
back on. Store them in a dark closet or area in the basement where it
Last winter some of my shrubs received horrible
damage from chewing rabbits, where the years before they didn't. If you
are in doubt wrap the young trees and the bottom of the shrubs with
hardware cloth, chicken wire etc. this fall before the snow sets in.
can also cause damage, and if you want to protect a tree or shrubs you
will need to surround the trees and shrubs with a sturdy cage or wire
fence--chicken wire won't be tough enough. Those bucks are very strong,
and they can easily damage a small shrub or tree with their antlers.
you are in Zone 5 and lower be cautious planting new perennials now.
They should be planted and mulched heavily no later than 6 weeks before
the hard frosts start.
Lastly, take a look at your landscape
and gardens. Make notes of what you liked, didn't like, what did well,
and what failed or didn't do as well as you liked. Consider if you want
to add a new bed in the spring and start getting it ready now instead
of waiting. The head start makes a big difference.
Fall Cleaning in the Garden
the onset of cold weather, or at least cooler for most of us, you need
clean your garden and landscape. It's better to do this now during the
cool, refreshing days of fall, then wait for spring.
all your trees and shrubs carefully and prune out the dead or diseased
branches. They are easier to see while the healthy ones are green and
flourishing. Be sure to give all of your trees and shrubs a good, deep
watering before the first heavy frost. If you notice any bag worms in
the trees, pick them out and discard too.
Remove any diseased or
insect-infested plants from your garden is very, very important. Take a
Saturday or another day you have to spare and make a project of it on a
cool day. Either burn or discard of these plants and other debris.
Cleaning carefully will give your plants a fresh start in the spring.
Rake up leaves as well. It's also a great time to pick out any broken
stakes, garden art, bricks, cracked pots,
nursery tags etc. If it
doesn't belong, get rid of it. You will appreciate this in the spring
when you don't have to wade through soggy plant stems and muddy flower
Here are Southwestern garden tips from The University of
Arizona: Plant spring flowering bulbs. Varieties that are best adapted
for the Southwest include; amaryllis, narcissus, gladiolus, iris,
freesia, buttercup (ranunculus), Lilium spp. (Easter, Formosan lily),
Hymenocallis spp. (spider lily), and Zephyranthes spp. (rain lilies).
With proper care these bulbous plants will produce beautiful flowers
year after year.
usertype:1 tt= 0
RE:Vegetable and Fruit Gardening
(Date Posted:02/13/2009 02:12 AM)
always gotten a lot of email questions on roses, but peony questions
rank a close second. I gathered together the tips I shared last year,
and the link at the bottom are
even more tips plus more detailed growing information.
can't imagine not growing peonies. They are, to me, the kind and
beautiful great grandmother of the flower world. Much like roses, they
will last years and years in your landscape and will thrive will a
little pampering. Regular watering during the spring and summer is
important. You can also carefully work in potash (the ash leftover
after burning wood) and compost into the soil around bushes in the
spring. This is really the best fertilizer to use on your peonies.
your peonies bloom, never cut more than 25 percent of the flowers from
a plant to bring inside, and cut the stems rather short so you leave as
much foliage as possible. Once the flowers left on the plant dry up,
they will normally fall off and you can clean up afterwards. It's very
important to leave the peony foliage alone until the fall when frost
turns it brown. You can plant annuals in front of it such as salvia,
dusty miller, snapdragons or petunias. Iris, lily, phlox or poppies are
One more note-- ants on your peonies are
neither a good or bad thing. They are attracted to the nectar in the
buds, andwon't hurt the flowers or the plant.
DRY YOUR PEONIES
anyone likes to dry flowers just cut some peonies and put a rubber band
around the stems and turn upside down and hang to dry. They dry so
nicely and look just like a rose. They look so nice in any dry flower
arrangement. I try to dry just a couple of all my flower to see what
dries the nicest. You would be surprised to see what all you really can
PEONIES IN WARM CLIMATES?
I live in Southern
California, and was wondering if they have made any peony varieties
that would do well with our mild conditions. In the winter, where we
live, it does get below freezing occasionally. I would say maybe 10 to
15 days of 25 to 32 degrees overnight, but I don't think that is enough
for the regular peonies to survive. ~Bobbi
don't do well in Southern California and other warm areas. They need
about 400 hours of 40 degreeF. temperatures or colder. The reason it's
stated in hours is because some days may be warmer during the middle of
the day but cold enough part of the time. It doesn't have to freeze.
Try planting them on the north side of a structure where they will get
less direct sun and cooler temperatures. Tree peonies are different
than the herbaceous peonies and some people in warm climates have had
better luck with these. You can trim off their leaves in November-
nick the stems. This may fool the plant into thinking it dropped all of
it's leaves. Don't water or use fertilizer at all during this period.
If all goes well you could see blooms in March or April. It's really
important to talk with local garden centers or community garden clubs
to see what other gardeners in your area are doing..
Iris Growing Tips
Plant them in a sunny spot in late summer. The plants need well-drained
soil and at least six hours of sunlight per day. A full day of sun is
even better to keep the rhizomes dry. (The rhizomes are the fleshy
rootlike structures at the base
of the plant.)
Prepare their beds. Doris recommends a low-nitrogen fertilizer and a
soil pH slightly less than 7, which is neutral. She applies a granular
fertilizer twice a year --
in early spring and just after bloom
when the rhizomes are forming the next year's flowers. Water only if it
is extremely dry or after transplanting.
* Give them room to
breathe. Bearded iris require good air circulation. Plant them a
minimum of 16 to 18 inches apart (less space for dwarf irises and more
for taller varieties).
* Do not mulch. Mulching retains moisture, and too much moisture will cause soft rot of the rhizomes.
Break off seedpods that form after the blooms have faded. This
prevents seedlings from choking the surrounding soil. Seed formation
also saps energy needed by the rhizomes, roots, and leaves.
* Prune back the foliage in the fall. This will reduce the chances of overwintering pests and diseases.
* Make dividing a habit. Divide clumps of bearded iris every three to four years in the late summer.
A Garden Space Blessing Spell
Seven of Pentacles
1 Cup of Water
in the center of your garden space while holding the Seven of Pentacles
in both hands. Visualize the garden as planted, growing, thriving, and
the fruits of your labor coming to fruition. Then enchant the space by
saying something like:
By Elements of earth below
And Sun above and water flow
And wind that dances through the trees
Card of harvest, plant your seeds
I place this space now in your care
To tend all that I shall plant there
And make all flourish fruitfully
As I will so mote it be
Bury the card where you stand, and pour the cup of water on top
Organic vs. Chemical fertilizers
fertilizers are made from plant products such as cottonseed meal or
from animal products such as poultry manure or fish emulsion and must
break down before the plants can take them up. Chemical fertilizers
are made from products such as ammonium nitrate which is a more intense
feeding which breaks down almost immediately. Because they are so
strong, they can sometimes over feed which can cause burning of the
leaves or other detrimental effects. Once the fertilizers break down
they are virtually indistinguishable to the plants. The process of
taking up nutrients is a chemical reaction and all of the fertilizers
become chemicals as they are absorbed. The main difference is in how
they are broken down.
on types such as Miracle Gro feed through the leaves of the plant.
This is a very quick way to feed which was designed for greenhouse
commercial growers to feed every time they watered rather than feeding
through the roots. We feel that this encourages too much leaf growth
and weakens the plant's root system since it roots are hardly needed.
Long term, it can also build up salt in the soil from the ammonium
nitrate which prevents the natural taking up of nutrients.
always prefer to use worm castings as the worm's digestive system is a
perfect vehicle for the nutrients to break down. They do the work for
the plants and excrete the perfect chemical makeup for roots to
absorb. Nature is so dynamic that way, it makes its own machines!
Castings also actually work within the soil to release other nutrients
already there and make them available to plants too.
Recipe for a complete organic fertilizer
been using this recipe, which to the best of my knowledge was created
by Steve Solomon (founder of Territorial Seed Company), for six years
now with good results. One word of caution: Instead of buying the
components in small boxes, buy bulk bags (40-50 lbs.) at a farm supply
or feed store. As long as you keep them dry, they will last for many
All measurements are in terms of volume, not weight.
- 4 parts seed meal
- 1 part dolomite lime
- ½ part bone meal -or- 1 part soft rock phosphate
- ½ part kelp meal
usertype:1 tt= 0
RE:Vegetable and Fruit Gardening
(Date Posted:02/13/2009 02:13 AM)
Soil For Vegetables
ideal garden soil is deep, loose, fertile, well-drained (internally as
well as on the surface), has plenty of organic matter, and is free of
weeds and diseases. Such soils are difficult to find, but with proper
preparation and management, less-than-ideal soils can be productive.
moves quickly through an internally well-drained soil and never
completely shuts off air movement. Drainage is important because roots
cannot develop, live, and function without a constant supply of oxygen.
Clay soils dry slowly after a rain because the spaces in them are small
and water moves through them slowly. Sandy soils, on the other hand,
have many spaces and dry out quickly.
Clay and sandy soils can
be partially changed to substitute for a rich loam by adding organic
matter. Increasing the organic matter content of a clay soil improves
the tilth, makes it easier to work, and improves the internal drainage.
Adding organic matter to a sandy soil increases its water-holding
capacity and improves its fertility.
The garden soil affects
the way vegetable plants grow and look. When soils are cold, wet,
crusty, or cloddy, seedlings are slow to emerge and some may not
survive. Root rot diseases may take a heavy toll on seedlings,
especially beans. Other soil-related plant symptoms are short plants,
slow growth, poor color, and shallow and malformed roots. Soil symptoms
of poor structure are crusts, hard soil layers below the surface,
standing water, and erosion.
Increase the soil’s organic matter
content by adding manure, composted leaves, sawdust, bark, or peat
moss; or by turning under plant residues like sweet corn stalks after
harvest, and green manure crops (soybeans, rye, southern pea plants,
and others). Plant residues should be free of diseases if they are to
be added to the garden soil. Cover crops, such as clovers and vetch,
planted in the fall prevent soil erosion and leaching of plant
nutrients. They also provide organic matter and nitrogen when turned
under in spring.
Manures vary in their content of fertilizing
nutrients. The amount of straw, age, exposure to the elements, and
degree of composting change their composition. Be careful not to
over-fertilize when applying chicken litter to garden soil. Use no more
than 200 pounds per 1,000 square feet of garden space. Animal manure is
lower in nutrient content than poultry manure and can be applied at the
rate of 250 to 300 pounds per 1,000 square feet.
manures can add so much salt to the soil that plant growth is harmed.
Most organic materials release some nutrients quickly and the rest over
a period of time. Even though adding organic matter improves soil
fertility, manures and plant residues are not balanced fertilizers, and
soils require additional fertilizer. Test soil annually to be sure.
Discover How Coffee Grounds Can Perk Up Your Garden
By Simone Abt
Canadian gardeners are discovering that coffee grounds offer a valuable source of nutrition for gardens.
grounds can be used in several ways. Grounds can be applied along with
other materials as a side dressing for vegetables, roses, and other
plants. They also make an excellent addition to the compost. Grounds
can also help with worm bins. Worms fed with coffee grounds will
Gardeners can use grounds from their home coffee
brewing machines, or they can stop by Starbucks to pick up a bag of
complimentary coffee grounds. Starbucks offers spent grounds to
customers year-round for use in gardens and compost bins.
grounds can be a valuable source of nutrition for the garden," says Ben
Packard, director of Environmental Affairs for Starbucks. "Reusing
coffee grounds in the garden year-round is a great way to avoid
disposing of this rich resource from our stores."
The Composting Council of Canada, composting not only helps to reduce
the amount of waste going to landfills, it produces a valuable soil
amendment that can improve the texture and fertility of the soil.
Compost is the single most important ingredient for soil quality and productivity.
gardeners even use the grounds to help ward off slugs and snails. The
grounds can be used to mulch plants that slugs love to feast on, such
as hostas, ligularias and lilies.
Coffee grounds can be
applied directly to a garden's acid loving plants such as azaleas,
roses or hydrangeas. While coffee grounds may be acidic, adding leaves
and dried grass can reduce this acidity. Your local gardening expert
can help you decide what is best for your garden
Potting Soil Recipes
Home-Style Potting Soil
1 part finished compost
1 part loose garden or commercial potting soil
1 part sharp sand, perlite, or vermiculite - or a mixture of all 3
Thalassa Cruso's Potting Soil
1 part commercial potting soil or leaf mold
1 part sphagnum or peat moss
1 part perlite or sharp sand
Rich Potting Soil
1 part leaf mold
2 parts loose garden or commercial potting soil
1 part compost or rotted, sifted manure
Amended Potting Soil
4 parts loose garden or commercial potting soil
2 parts sphagnum or peat moss
2 parts leaf mold or compost
2 parts vermiculite
6 teaspoons dolomitic limestone (the limestone helps to neutralize the acids in the leaf mold and peat moss)
52 Weekend Garden Projects 1992 by Nancy Bubel Rodale Press. Emmaus, Pennsylvania
Soil Preparation by Blooming Bulb:
When your soil begins to dry up in spring, grab your spade and get going:
time to prepare your garden for planting. Most gardeners know they
should put good effort into soil prep, because it's the single most
important thing one can do to grow a good garden.
goal is to improve soil structure so that the soil is deep, loose, and
well-drained. In friable soil such as this, plants can send roots into
regions where the nutrients and moisture they need are located.
move more easily as water percolates between soil particles; and in
addition, oxygen is available for the roots to use.
The overall effect is healthier, stronger plants that resist diseases and insects.
you have clay or sandy soil, the best way to improve soil structure is
to add organic matter such as compost, manure, completely decomposed
sawdust or straw, shredded bark, or rotten leaves.
use fresh sawdust or straw because it uses up nitrogen, a major plant
nutrient, while it is decomposing. The organic matter is fed upon by
beneficial soil bacteria that then release nutrients into the soil and
make them available for plant use. It¹so all part of the food chain,
and it's pretty remarkable when you think about it.
usertype:1 tt= 0
RE:Vegetable and Fruit Gardening
(Date Posted:02/13/2009 02:14 AM)
Some Things NOT to DoDon’t
cut iris leaves after the flowers fade. Leaves carry on photosynthesis
and develop nourishment for next year’s growth. Cut off brown tips and
remove the flowering stalk down to the rhizome.
If you’re growing plants outdoors in containers, don’t
use a soilless potting mix. Be sure that it contains at least half
soil. Or make your own blend for window boxes and patio containers by
mixing one part compost, one part garden soil, and one part builder’s
When shopping at a nursery, don’t
buy a tree or shrub with a damaged root ball. Inspect it carefully to
make sure that it is uniform, not crushed, and a good size. For every
inch of the trunk, the ball should be seven to eight inches in
Unless you’re working your way through knee-high grass, don’t
remove those grass clippings from the lawn. Leave them where they fall
to filter down to the soil, decompose, and recycle nutrients into the
are well named: They are 92 percent water. A 2-cup serving contains
only 90 calories and is fat-free as well. Watermelon also is a good
source of vitamins A and C.
you grow your own watermelons this summer or buy them at the store,
you’ll face the daunting task of determining their ripeness. We’ve
heard all sorts of advice, including the fact that a ripe melon, when
thumped, will feel more like a human head than a human chest
Garden Soil Blessings
(while working it)
Bless this Earth
That I prepare
To nurture my herbs and plants
With loving care
Protect them from all bugs and mite
And all other worldly strife
Let no animal eat it's leaves
For some they come from poison seeds
Harm to none
Including mine and me
This is my will
So mote it be!
© (Lady Sayuri)
Create a garden that is conductive to all life.
Put up birdhouses, birdbaths and bird feeders, bat houses and hummingbird feeders.
Plant flowers and plants that are attractive to bees and butterflies.
Faeries are attracted to any place where there are butterflies.
Put nuts out for the squirrels.
Whatever you do to bring life to your garden will bring
faeries as well. Here is a short list of plants that attract beautiful
butterflies and faeries to your garden:
Achillea millefolium (common yarrow)
Aster novi-belgii (New York aster)
Chrysanthemum maximum (Shasta daisy)
Coreopsis grandiflora/certicillata (coreopsis)
Lavendula denata (French lavender)
Rosemarinus officinalis (rosemary)
Buddleia alternifolia (fountain butterfly bush)
Buddleia davidii (orange-eye butterfly bush, summer lilac)
Potenilla fruitiosa (shrubby cinquefoil)
Petunia hybrida (common garden petunia)
Verbena (verbenas, vervains)
Scabiosa caucasica (pincushion flowers)
Cosmos bipinnatus (cosmos)
Zinnia elegans (common zinnia)
Install a small fountain or waterfall or put in a fish pond.
might want to include statues of faeries. Anything that reflects light
or is colorful and moving particularly attracts the gnomes and elves.
Both faeries and water sprites like the splashy sound and sight of a
Leave an area of your
garden a bit wild and not too cultivated. It need not be a large space,
but having one area that is dedicated to the faeries will make
them feel very welcome. Ask faeries and elves to come to your garden.
"Where Intention goes, energy flows." Whatever you place your conscious awareness on, you will pull into your life.
AS you put your attention on faeries and gnomes and the elemental realm,
they will respond by being drawn into your garden.
Know When to Plant What: Find Your Average Last Spring Frost Date
important to plant your garden seeds at the right time, and the key is
knowing when your area will see its last spring frost. Some garden
plants taste even better after a little frost, but you'll sure be sorry
if you put your warm season crops in the ground too soon.
crops thrive in cool weather, while others only grow well when it’s
warmer. So how do you know when to plant what? The key factor that
should guide your decisions is your average last spring frost date.
Most cool season crops, like cabbage, broccoli, lettuce and many
others, can tolerate a light frost and will grow best when sown a
couple weeks before your last spring frost. Some, like peas and
spinach, are so cold-hardy they can even be planted “as soon as the
ground can be worked,” as many seed packets say. But warm season crops
like squash, cucumber, and basil will be killed by frost if your seeds
come up too soon. Ditto for warm season transplants such as tomatoes,
peppers and eggplants — if you don’t wait until danger of frost has
passed before you set them out, a late frost will kill them.
on seed packets you often see “Plant after all danger of frost has
passed.” So, how do you find the average last spring frost date for
your area? There are U.S. maps that show last frost dates, but it's
hard to find your exact local dates on them. Your best bet is the National Climatic Data Center.
Choose your state and then locate the city nearest you, and it will
show your average last spring (and first fall) frost dates, based upon
weather data collected by the National Climatic Data Center from 1971
through 2000 from that location. You can choose between a 50/50
probability of frost after the given date, or you can play it safe and
choose the 90 percent date, which means there’s only a 10 percent
chance of a frost after that date. The Freeze/Frost Occurrence Data
charts also provide average dates for 36 degrees Fahrenheit, 32 degrees
and 28 degrees; for most crops gardeners should use the 32 degree dates.
Here’s a summary of which crops to plant early, and which ones not to plant until after your last spring frost date:
Very early spring (as soon as the ground can be worked)
After last frost date
Make A Coffee Can Herb Garden
by Katelyn Thomas
you drink a lot of coffee, you probably have quite a few metal coffee
cans on hand. With just a little effort, you can make a useful and
pretty handmade gift for your friends and family.
wash out your can and peel off any labels. Next, apply a coat of metal
primer to your can. Let the primer dry thoroughly. Then, apply a coat
of bright acrylic paint to the can.
your can is painted, you can decorate it. I like to apply crackle
medium and then add a top coat of color. This effect is beautiful if
you paint a deep blue undercoat and a rich red overcoat on your can.
may want to rubberstamp bugs or garden tools onto the can instead. To
do this, use stamps that are flexible so that you can stamp onto the
curved surface of the can. You can apply a light coat of acrylic paint
to the stamp and then press the stamp onto the can, carefully rolling
the stamp so that the whole image is stamped onto the can. If you mess
up, don't worry. You can wipe the stamped image off the can and start
great decorative technique for decorating cans is decoupage. Use empty
seed packets with pretty artwork or cut pictures from magazines and
decoupage them to the can in an attractive pattern.
your can is decorated, apply a coat of sealer to the finished product.
If you will use the can outside, you may want to let this coat dry and
apply a second coat of sealer.
you are ready to prepare your can for planting. Turn the can upside
down. Use a 3 inch nail and a hammer to poke drainage holes in the
bottom of the can. Turn your can over and fill it to just an inch below
the rim with good potting soil.
it is time for you to decide which herbs you will be planting in your
can. Chives, basil, oregano, thyme and parsley all are great choices.
Of course, you can also put a lovely scented geranium in the can,
a finishing touch, add a tag with information about caring for the herb
and a few great recipes. It is easy to attach the tag with a simple
consider other ideas for your coffee can. For instance, instead of
adding potting soil and an herb, add a garden trowel, gardening gloves,
a packet of seeds, a box of tea and a package of tea biscuits for do it
usertype:1 tt= 0
RE:Vegetable and Fruit Gardening
(Date Posted:02/13/2009 02:15 AM)
A Sunwheel Herb Garden
The Nine Sacred Herbs of Wisdom
took Woden Nine Magic Twigs and then smote the serpent that he in nine
dispersed. Now these nine herbs have power against nine magic outcasts
against nine venoms and against nine flying things against the loathed
things that over land rove."
Yes, this is the stuff of legends,
but based on very real herbs and medicinal practices of the
Anglo-Saxons and their contemporaries. These plants are still in use
today, and most are common in Midgard. It is my intent to cover the
practical basics of growing and using these nine sacred herbs, which
are: Mugwort ,Waybroad (Plantain), Atterlothe (unknown), Maythen
(Chamomile), Wergulu (Nettle), Crabapple ,Chervil , and Fennel .
are just nine of the herbs of our ancestors: common plants found
growing wild, discovered to have beneficial properties to mankind. Or,
perhaps Woden discovered them himself and gave them to man, as he did
the runes. No matter, it is honorable work to grow, harvest, and use
them for the benefit and pleasure of the folk.
Designing the Garden
or not you have decided on a site for your garden, survey your
possibilities well. This project does require a reasonably-sized, sunny
piece of land, at least 8 X 8 feet. Although if you live in an
apartment, you can grow these herbs in containers on a sunny patio or
balcony (but you may have to bonsai the crab apple tree!).
know the Sunwheel as a holy symbol, which represents the daily passage
of Sunna across the sky, the wheel of her chariot, and as a hallowing
sign of the Vanir. How appropriate for a sacred garden dedicated to our
Faith, our Gods, and the Earth, whether you call her Frigg, Jord or
Erce! The Sunwheel also naturally accommodates nine herbs (or, eight
and one tree) by its design. It also converts well, and can be used for
a very small garden of only one or two plants of each herb, up to as
large as you have the will and land to make!
Working the Earth
you have chosen your site, don’t forget to approach the local
landwights and offer them something for their good favor. Chances are
they will be glad and excited about your undertaking. But you are
planting a tree, which is a pretty big change to the landscape! Not to
mention that Crabapple trees can grow very large, and you may need to
transplant it again before it reaches its full height. Keep this in
mind when choosing your spot.
If preparing this garden in
early spring, you may want to incorporate it into a “Charming of the
Plow” ritual (see Field Blessing by Winifred Hodge, this issue). Due to
these herbs being connected with Woden in herblore, this project would
be an ideal site, garden, or harrow dedicated to the Allfather. It may
be desirable to perform the actual dedication ceremony at the breaking
First prepare the circle of
earth where your Sunwheel will be. You may need to till up grass and
weeds, and clear the topsoil of any large rock particles. Check your
soil type - it will need to be fairly good, and you can correct poor
soil by adding the appropriate conditioners and fertilizers. Even if
you have average garden soil, add compost for nutrients and tilth.
your soil is ready, the Sunwheel can be formed with just about any
common garden marker, including bricks, railroad ties, rock, or even
out of the soil itself. However, for magical purposes it is recommended
to use local cut rock or hand-gathered stones or wood. It is possible
to create the form based on the number nine. Simply use sequences of
three or nine when placing the markers, or make sure the total number
of pieces used is divisible by nine. For example, make each spoke of
the Sunwheel and each quadrant of the Sunwheel rim out of three rocks,
Begin planting your herbs after the last frost, which
usually falls in March or April, depending on your region. The garden
needs to receive full sun, which is at least four to five hours of
direct sunlight daily.
Crabapple - There the
Apple accomplished it against poison that she (the loathsome serpent)
would never dwell in the Middle Garth.
Crabapple is a tree, of
course, and not really an herb. However, the modern definition of an
herb is any plant with common use, be it culinary, medicinal,
household, or magical. As the only tree, the Crabapple should obviously
be planted in the center of the Sunwheel.
Order the tree from
a nursery, at about one year of age. There are many different
varieties, just be sure you get one that produces fruit. Check its
hardiness in your area. Most nurseries and mail order companies have a
zone chart which will identify how well your tree will do in your area.
If you are not sure, go to a local nursery and ask. Most people don’t
grow Crabapples for fruit anymore, but they may have Crabapples in
stock, or can order them for you.
Soak the roots of the tree
in water with fish emulsion fertilizer, available at most garden or
home supply warehouses. Mix the fertilizer as recommended, usually one
teaspoon fish emulsion per gallon water for transplants. (Do this for
all transplanted plants.) Dig a hole in the center of the Sunwheel
about one foot in diameter, and the same in depth. Place the roots in
the hole at a depth which will just cover the roots, but do not
encroach up the trunk very high. Just barely cover the “root ball” at
the base of the trunk, from which the roots start to extend. Cover the
roots with soil, pack down lightly, and water well. Crabapple will sap
the ground of nutrients, so you will need to fertilize the garden
You will likely need to prune the tree, especially
if it has been shipped. Cut off any broken branches or bows with
pruning shears. Additionally, you will need to yearly prune the
branches back in late summer, and for instructions I will refer you to
Tree Planting Day, by Charles Spratling (this issue) and Rodale’s
Organic Garden Answers for Vegetables, Fruits, and Herbs, which has a
very good section on pruning bearing trees.
there is not much support in herblore for the common, lowly Crabapple.
It is not touted medicinally, nor for its fruit, which is nearly too
bitter for the palate. However, it is of note that there is
archaeological evidence for the consumption of Crabapples in Early
England, and compensation for a Crabapple tree in Anglo-Saxon times was
30 pence. Crabapples make a fine jam, and have been used to flavor
mead. For mead, or more technically melomel, peel and seed the
Crabapples and then boil in water to a mush. Add plenty of sugar to
taste, and cinnamon if you like, and then steep in the honey wort.
- Chervil and Fennel, two very mighty ones. They were created by the
wise one-eyed Lord, holy in Asgard as he hung on the tree; He set and
sent them to the nine worlds, to the wretched and the fortunate, as a
help to all.
Common Fennel, Foeniculum Vulgare, is a hardy
perennial in temperate regions, but may be grown as an annual where
winters are harsh. It is sown readily from seed, and can also be
purchased as a young plant from most nurseries. To grow from seed, sow
directly in the garden 15 inches apart, or sow early indoors inflats,
and transplant after the last frost. Fennel will grow almost anywhere,
but prefers a well-drained, alkaline soil. Depending on your soil type,
you may wish to add bonemeal, lime or ash in the area you will be
Fennel grows very large, up to six feet, and
needs to be planted towards the center of the garden, behind the
smaller plants, and may overshadow the Crabapple the first year or two.
If you are cultivating a smaller garden, one or two plants is all you
Fennel’s small, yellow flowers will be seen in June
and July, and will set seed in late summer. Unless you wish it to
re-seed voluntarily, collect the seed heads at maturity, when they
harden and turn brown. In the fall cut it back to the ground, and it
should send out new shoots in the following spring. Or you can dig up
the root, which can been eaten as a vegetable, and sow new seed the
Fennel has a strong, licorice-like scent, and
can be used medicinally and in cooking. Fennel seed, bruised and boiled
in water, and then added to syrup and soda water will relieve
flatulence in infants. The herbalist Nicholas Culpeper relates a common
use of it, its seed or leaves boiled in barley water and then drunk by
nursing mothers to increase their milk and its quality for the infant.
In Lacnunga, Fennel is used in charms against all manner of ill-meaning
wights, from elves to sorcerers, and even against insanity. An infusion
of the leaves or crushed seeds will ease flatulence and increase
appetite in adults, and should be drunk three times a day.
- There are two plants commonly known as Chervil: Sweet Chervil, or
Sweet Cicely (Myrrhis odorata) and French Chervil (Anthriscus
cerefolium). The first is native to the British Isles, and likely to be
the chervil of the Anglo-Saxons, and therefore will be the herb
discussed here. French Chervil’s use is primarily culinary, but is an
adequate substitute for Myrrhis odorata in your garden, as these herbs
are often mistaken for one another. Additionally, if you live in an
arid region, French Chervil may prove the hardier herb.
Cicely is found in mountainous regions, and prefers a rocky,
well-drained soil. A hardy perennial, it is best cultivated from root
or plant, but can be grown from seed. It can reach two to three feet in
height, and should be planted towards the center of the Sunwheel, not
quite one foot apart. Its aromatic foliage is similar to Anise or
Lovage, and its small white flowers attract bees.
plant is edible. John Gerard, garden keeper to Queen Elizabeth, reports
its leaves and roots were commonly eaten in salads in his day, and it
is said that Chervil comforts the heart and increases a lust for life.
Culpeper states that Chervil provokes menstruation, which may be why
this herb is considered a valuable tonic for adolescent girls. Chervil
tea is also an effective relief for bronchitis and sinusitis, being a
useful tonic for the mucous membranes. Along with Fennel, Chervil was
created by the wise Lord, a phrase to which I like to add one-eyed.
- Remember, Mugwort, what you made known, what you arranged. You were
called Una, the oldest of herbs, you have power against three and
against thirty, you have power against poison and against infection,
you have power against the loathsome serpent encircling the Middle
I think Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) is the herb best
known to Heathens, due to its aid in the second sight and Seidh
working. The dried herb is often burned as recels, and has an odor very
similar to Cannabis. Mugwort is not intoxicating, however, but does act
as a nervine, and is helpful against depression and tension.
is grown from seed, and can be purchased as a young plant at most
herbal nurseries. Seeds can be sown directly in the garden, about one
foot apart, or sown in flats early indoors and transplanted. It grows
up to three feet in height, more in an ideal growing environment. It
thrives in ordinary, well-drained garden soil, and is related to
Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium). In common to that plant, Mugwort can
be used dried as an insect repellent, but is not as strong as Wormwood,
lacking its volatile oil. Mugwort will re-seed readily, and should be
cut to the ground in late autumn. The plant is a hardy perennial, and
will come back in the Spring in most areas.
stimulates the digestive system, and will help aid a normal menstrual
flow. It can be taken as a tea of the dried or fresh leaves, or in
aperitifs or tincture (alcohol extraction). To prepare a tincture,
bruise and soak fresh leaves in grain alcohol, preferably vodka, for
two weeks, agitating daily. Strain the mixture, and store tincture in a
closed, glass jar or bottle in a dark, cool location. When properly
stored, the tincture should keep indefinitely.
Put to flight now, Venom-loather, the greater poisons, though you are
the lesser, you the mightier, conquer the lesser poisons, until he is
cured of both.
Unfortunately, the identity of this herb is not
certain. Storms suggests *****’s Spur Grass, a name which reminds me of
*****eburr, or common Agrimony. However Agrimony is known in Lacnunga
as Garclife and Egrimonie. But Atterlothe is translated to mean venom
loather. I think it is a fair assumption that, lacking the absolute
identity of this herb, we may make an appropriate substitution based on
its magical function and meaning.
Eleanour Sinclair Rohde in
The Old English Herbals states that the Saxons attributed the source of
all ill to the Great Worm, or the World Serpent. She uses examples of
Saxon literature, including the Nine Herb Charm, to support this.
Additionally, the Leech Book of Bald, a later medicinal text, is
mentioned as ascribing even minor ailments to the presence of a worm.
While I think this is a gross simplification, it is noteworthy to
consider the World Serpent as the enemy of Midgard, and therefore
mankind, and the potential spiritual source for disease.
keeping with this, I propose Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) as an
appropriate substitute for Atterlothe. Although Wormwood was known to
the Anglo-Saxons as Wermod, its strong benefit to the body, and its
anthelmintic properties, make it ideal in place of Atterlothe. Wormwood
was the original main ingredient in Absinthe, which proved deadly for
the habitual drinker. But the euphoria and madness associated with it
certainly brings Woden to mind, and again reassures its place in this
garden. Wormwood also is used as a nervine to soothe a nervous
temperament, just the thing to calm a berserker down!
can be grown from seed, but viability of the seed (chance that it will
germinate) is fairly low. It can be purchased as a seedling from most
herb nurseries, or propagated by root division. It is a hardy
perennial, grows two to three feet high, and prefers a well-drained,
Wormwood should be used carefully in medicine,
despite its general benefit to man. An infusion (tea) of the leaves
taken three times a day will stimulate the digestive system, treat
indigestion, and help the body deal with fever and infections. This
historical use is confirmed in Lacnunga in charms against Typhoid and
Chicken Pox. The powdered herb may be taken in capsule to expel worms,
and is particularly effective against roundworms and pinworms. For
pets, vary the dosage accordingly, starting with 1/8 teaspoon of the
dried herb, and increase as needed.
Chamomile - Remember
Chamomile, what you made known, what you accomplished at Alorford, that
never a man should lose his life from infection, after Chamomile was
prepared for his food.
Chamomile, like Balder who is
associated with it, is probably the best-loved herb. Its small, white
flowers and sweet-apple scent endear it to anyone who comes in contact
with it. It is pristine and pure, as well as useful in the medicine
There are several varieties of Chamomile, German
(Matricaria recutita), Roman (Anthemis nobilis), and Dyer’s Chamomile
(Anthemis tinctoria). For tea, German Chamomile is the best choice, and
it is this variety to be discussed here. However, Roman Chamomile is a
perennial, unlike German, and may be a better choice to grow in the
Southwestern States, as it will tolerate an arid climate. Its flowers
may also be used for tea, but it will produce less of them. Obviously,
Dyer’s Chamomile is what you want if you wish to produce a beautiful
German Chamomile is an annual, grown readily from
seed, and can grow up to a foot in height. Place this herb towards the
rim of the Sunwheel, in front of the taller herbs. The seed can be
scattered in the garden after the last frost, or again grown in flats
indoors and transplanted. It will do fine in ordinary garden soil, and
needs regular watering.
Chamomile has long been known as a
sedative, and is one of the few, true alterative nervines. This means
it regulates the nervous system - sedative in the case of anxiety or
insomnia, and stimulant in case of depression or malaise. The tea
relieves flatulence and gastritis, and used externally, Chamomile will
speed wound healing and reduce swelling.
Gather the flowers in
the summer, and dry by spreading them thinly on a screen or cookie
sheet in a warm, dry area where they will not be disturbed. Store in
air-tight containers. Be sure to leave a few flower heads on the
plants, so that you can gather the very tiny seed in late autumn for
planting the next spring.
Plantain - And you, Plaintain,
mother of herbs, open from the east, mighty inside. Over you chariots
creaked, over you queens rode, over you brides cried out, over you
bulls snorted. You withstood all of them, you dashed against them. May
you likewise withstand poison and infection, and the loathsome serpent
encircling the Middle Garth.
Common Plantain (Plantago major)
is a perennial, growing as a weed in most of the northern hemisphere.
It can be cultivated by seed or rhizome, and is so proliferous it is
best not to let it re-seed voluntarily. If it is not native to your
region, it can be difficult to find. I was lucky to meet a lady in
Oregon who was kind enough to send me some seeds from her weeds , but a
few herb nurseries are starting to offer it.
very low to the ground, with large, broad leaves. It will survive
anywhere, but needs regular rain or watering to thrive. Sow the seed
directly in the garden, towards the rim of the Sunwheel, in front of
the taller herbs. You can sow the seed in flats indoors and then
transplant, but it really is a waste of energy. Harvest the whole,
fresh leaves for use. When dried, Plantain loses much of its properties
in its juice. The seeds have little benefit, with the exception of
their use as a substitute for Linseed.
Gerard exclaims the
juice of Plantain dropped in the eyes will cool inflammation, and
Culpeper states that eating a little bit of the root will cure a
headache instantly. Plantain is a useful astringent, and when taken as
a tea it will aid against diarrhea. Plantain will also staunch external
bleeding when applied in a salve, or simply bruised and applied to a
minor wound. For a simple Plantain salve, crush the leaves and mix well
with lard, and apply. An interesting parallel, both the Anglo-Saxons
and the Native Americans valued Plantain against a snake bite, applied
Nettle - This is the herb that is called Wergulu.
A seal sent it across the sea-ridge, a vexation to poison, a help to
others. It stands against pain, it dashes against poison, it has power
against three and against thirty, against the hand of a fiend and
against mighty devices, against the spell of mean creatures.
Nettle (Urtica dioica) was brought to the British Isles by the Roman
Legions, who would rub their arms with the leaves to keep their blood
flowing in the cold, damp weather. Nettle strengthens and supports the
entire body, and can even be cooked and eaten as a pot herb, like
mustard greens or spinach. Itis another common weed, reaches up to
three feet in height, and is a hardy perennial. It can be grown by
seed, and may be difficult to find in nurseries.
Nettles, sow the seed directly in place in the garden, about one foot
apart. Like Plantain, it will grow anywhere, but prefers regular
watering and ordinary garden soil. Nettle will take over the garden if
you let it, so be sure to collect the flower heads before they set
seed. The plant will readily return in the spring from its creeping
roots. Also, keep the roots under control by regularly digging around
the area where they are planted. Or, sink garden bed bordering
underground around the area to prevent the unwanted spread of its
To gather fresh Nettle leaves, wear gardening gloves!
If you are stung by its stinging hairs, rub the area with Rosemary,
Mint or Sage leaves for relief. Collect the leaves when the flowers are
blooming. Nettle is used for everything from the stimulation of hair
growth to eczema, and may be used as an astringent externally for nose
bleeds. Additionally, there are recipes for Nettle Beer and Nettle
For Nettle Beer, in a large pot add 2 gallons of cold
water, 5 cups of washed, young Nettle leaves, 2 cups each of Dandelion
leaves and Horehound or Meadowsweet flowers, and 2 ounces of bruised
ginger root. Boil gently for 40 minutes, then strain and stir in 1 1/2
cups of brown sugar. When cooled to lukewarm temperature, toast a slice
of bread and spread with one cube of fresh yeast. Float the bread yeast
side up on the top of the mixture, cover and allow to ferment for 24
hours. At the end of this time, open and remove the residue from the
top of the beer. Add 1 tablespoon of cream of tartar. Bottle as you
would an ale.
Watercress Stune is the name of this herb, it
grew on a stone, it stands up against poison, it dashes against pain.
Unyielding it is called, it drives out the hostile one, it casts out
poison, it has the power against infection. This is the herb that
fought against the world serpent.
Although Lacnunga refers to
Lamb’s Cress (lombescyrse) as one of the Nine Sacred Herbs, which
Storms differentiates from Watercress (eacerse or wyllecerse) as
Cardamine, Gerard assures us that Watercress, or Nasturtium officinale,
is also referred to as Cardamine. Although there may be a minor
difference in varieties, it is safe to assume that these plants are
very similar if not one and the same. Considering that Gerard’s Herbal
was published in 1597 C.E., one thousand years from the estimated date
of Lacnunga (587 C.E.), this name may have been commonly attributed to
a different herb during that time. However, Gerard’s one thousand year
gap is certainly preferable to Storm’s fourteen hundred year gap.
is a perennial but is typically grown as an annual, prefers a moist
habitat, and naturally occurs near springs, creeks and rivers. It is
cultivated by seed, sown directly in the garden or in flats indoors,
and then transplanted after the last frost. Watercress is a small,
creeping plant, so place near the rim of the Sunwheel, in front of
taller plants. Gather the seeds in the fall for replanting in the
spring, or allow to re-seed itself. Water it daily in summer.
is commonly eaten in salads and soups, and is the primary ingredient in
that favorite English Tea-time snack, Watercress sandwiches. Although
not in common use medicinally, Grieve reports its use against
tuberculosis during her time. Culpeper advises the bruised leaves to be
placed directly on the skin tocombat freckles, pimples and other skin
ailments. Watercress is an excellent diuretic, rivaled only by the
Other Herbs of Note
Houseleek Also known as
Thor’s Beard, Houseleek (Sempervivum tectorum) planted in a pot and
placed on the roof will protect a house from lightning. This plant is
known as Hens and Chicks in the United States.
Primrose (Primula vulgaris) is associated with Freya, and it is said to
open the door to her hall or mound. A wash of Cowslip water will
improve the complexion.
Woodruft A sprig of Sweet Woodruff
(Asperula odorata) steeped in Rhine Wine for a few hours is all it
takes to make May Wine, a common beverage at Walpurgis.
(Linum usitatissimum) is the plant that gives us linen and linseed oil,
and has been used since ancient times. The fiber is traditionally spun
and woven for clothing. Flax is under the dominion of Holda, possibly
another name for Frigg, who taught us the art of growing Flax, of
spinning, and of weaving it.
Angelica (Angelica archangelica)
was said to be revealed by the Archangel Michael as a cure for the
plague. More interestingly, Grieve recounts the remnant of an old
Lithuanian Pagan custom of the peasants marching into towns carrying
Angelica flower stems and offering them for sale. Angelica is
associated with Heimdall, used in warding, and the stems are still
commonly boiled in sugar-water for a confection.
(Vinca minor), the “Joy of the Ground”, was used against witchcraft and
sorcery in Medieval times, and therefore is of excellent protection
against ill-meaning wights of all kinds (including people). The
contradiction, and perhaps explanation, is that it was also called
Sorcerer’s Violet. What better to fight sorcery with than sorcery?
Alternatives to Pesticides and Chemicals
* When used incorrectly, pesticides can pollute water. They
also kill beneficial as well as harmful insects. Natural
alternatives prevent both of these events from occurring and
save you money.
* Consider using natural alternatives for chemical pesti-
cides: Non-detergent insecticidal soaps, garlic, hot pepper
sprays, 1 teaspoon of liquid soap in a gallon of water, used
dishwater, or forceful stream of water to dislodge insects.
* Also consider using plants that naturally repel insects.
These plants have their own chemical defense systems, and
when planted among flowers and vegetables, they help keep
unwanted insects away. The table below contains a partial
list of nature's alternatives
your gourds ripen on the vines as long as possible. Wait until the stem
turns brown, but harvest before frost. The fruit bruises easily, so
handle it carefully. Cut the stems 2-3 inches above the fruit with a
sharp knife, and dry off any moisture.
Most gourds will need
some indoor drying time before they are ready to use. Wipe them down
with a weak bleach solution and lay them out in a well-ventilated area
to dry. Gourds are completely dry when the seeds rattle around inside.
gourds will dry in less than a month, and large ones can take up to six
months. If mold appears during the drying process, scrape it off with a
knife. Thin-shelled gourds dry best when hung in a mesh bag.
the gourds are completely dry, remove the thin outer shells with steel
wool. Now they're ready to decorate. Use a wax or varnish for
Source: Garden Guides
Soil Mix for Containers
1 part peat moss
1 part rich garden soil or potting soil
1 part sand
With a trowel, mix the ingredients in a bucket or wheelbarrow until well blended.
Use for outdoor potted vegetables or flowers
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