It’s that time of year again. Ostara and Imbolc have both passed and the last freezes of the year are gripping the country. Spring is moving Winter on her way. We all know what that means: Spring planting season is here. So let’s tackle one of the most intimidating magical topics there is for a new witch-how to plant a magical garden.
The Mundane Before the Magical
Like any magical project, you need to start with things that are non-magical in nature. In this case, that means starting with learning what hardiness zone you are in. This is what determines what will take the type of weather and sun you have in your area for the US. I have included a link to a map that displays the hardiness zones for the US. To give you an idea of how it works, I live in Florida which means I am either a zone 9 or 10.
This means that while I would love to grow balsam firs and sage it is not going to happen. We don’t get the freezes required for the firs to grow correctly and we are a very wet climate. Sage likes to have dry roots or root rot sets in. I cannot tell you the number of amazingly witchy herbs I have lost to root rot over the years. But, hey. I can grow avocados outside year round and almost all fruit trees.
Soil Determines Your Level of Toil
Loamy, clay, dry, hard, sandy-it’s all dirt. As witches we are often aware of the magical properties of dirt (graveyard dirt, crossroads dirt, bank dirt, etc.). What we don’t often think about is how the mundane properties of dirt affect everything around us-including your gardening.
If you are planing to doing your gardening outside in a yard or other plot you should get your soil tested. Your local garden supply store or Home Depot carries them. Depending on how your soil comes back, you may need to mix in an additive to get the soil PH to match what you want to plant.
You also need to take into account how the soil holds moisture. Sandy soil will not hold moisture longer than it takes to sink into the ground and clay soil requires plants that have strong roots to break it up. So, while a plant may be able to take your weather it may not be best suited to your soil.
A Little Sunshine
The next thing to keep in mind is the amount of sun that the area you want to garden in is getting. Different plants like different amounts of sun. Moonflower wants full sun during the day in most climates, but in my zone they don’t suffer from a little bit of evening shade. Foxglove, on the other hand, gets 15 of sun down here and its toast.
You need to observe the area you are planning on planting in or placing your pots. Is it a good place to sunbathe? A vampire’s delight? Somewhere in between? Morning sun or late afternoon? Late afternoon sun is harsher than morning sunlight. Make sure that you observe the area over more than one day. With days getting longer, what may have seemed to only get an hour or two of sun in the afternoon may turn into a roasting pan as the summer goes on.
So now that we have taken care of that pesky mundane work, let’s get down to the fun part. Magical gardening is one of the most rewarding magical activities I do. But it is work. Plants don’t water themselves, after all.
Measure Twice, Cut Once
Like any large magical working you need to start with the purpose. Why are you planting this garden? Are you trying to attract faeries? Creating a moon garden to honor her? Growing herbs for use in your workings? Be sure to really think about not only what your intention is, but what your zone, soil, and sunlight amount will handle.
One you have determined your purpose, look for plants that correspond to that purpose (don’t know what a magical correspondence is? Check out my post here). It can be hard for novice gardeners to visualize what different plants look like together so often you will find stores have put together seed packets that match a theme.
Botanical Interests has several collections that take the guess work out. From moon gardens to herb collections, they have it all. Best of all, they have organic and heirloom seed varieties! I often get my seeds from here and strongly recommend them.
Seeding for Success
Now that you have acquired your seeds, it’s time to plot your garden. If you are one of the lucky people who are planting outside and not in pots I envy you. Some of the most beautiful witch garden designs I have seen are done outside. Not that you can’t have a witchy garden in pots. It just limits you.
You’ll need graph paper for this next bit. Or plain paper if space is not a concern. Go back to your intent for the garden. Think about something that symbolizes it or a flower that stands out strongly to you. Plot how the flowers will be planted keeping that symbol in mind or making sure that you have more of the special plant than the others.
Common themes include dividing the garden so that the borders make the wheel of the year or planting one specific flower so that it creates a pentacle for a generic witch garden. One year I found a moon shaped wooden lattice and encouraged moon flower to grow up it. When the flowers opened at night it was like a secret between myself and the moon. I have seen amazing faerie gardens with doors, chairs, and other miniature furniture pieces scattered throughout.
The internet is full of excellent ideas if you go blank during this stage. It happens.
Getting Your Hands Dirty
Pick a day during the waxing moon that corresponds with your intention to plant. Before planting, I always cast a circle around my garden and call on any elements or deities to help my garden thrive. Sometimes I will have created a garden guardian to place amongst the plants. I always bring out something that will play music. We all know that plants enjoy music and it’s a great way to both raise power and help keep it flowing between you and the seeds (Wanna know more about raising energy? Go here).
Take your diagram from the above step and set out the seeds to match. I usually do 3-4 seeds per individual placement as you never know which ones will sprout out. Once you have your seeds in place, push them into the soil to a depth matching the back of the seed packet. I talk to the seeds as I do this just like they were another person. I tell them about where they are going to be living and the intent of the garden. If it is dedicated to a deity, I tell them about the deity. The goal is to make them feel loved and transfer the energy you have raised into the seeds.
Once all the seeds have been planted, I take the guardian I have created and walk him around the freshly planted garden. I introduce him the buried seeds and the garden’s intent. Eventually, he tells me through feeling where in the garden he wants to be planted. I rest him there, release the elements and thank any deities.
Need supplies for planting your garden? Check out Botanical Interests here! They have variety of tools perfect for you.
Patience is a Virtue
Now comes the hardest part-waiting. Plants, like all earth magic, take time to grow and bloom. Even worse, there may be setbacks. You may get a drought and have to try to save your seedlings with a watering can. Insects may decide that your plants are the perfect snack and start a war. Sometimes you’ll win. Sometimes the insects will. For mysterious reasons, some plants may thrive and others die no matter how hard you work.
Typing this, I am coming to the conclusion that gardening is a little like loving someone. It takes work and you may not always win. But, darn it, you have to try. And the pay-off? Amazing. Worth every bit of frustration.