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In the Garden



      Gardening is probably the most ideal way to honour Mother Earth. Using only organic ingredients one aids in reclaiming our land from the toxic way of life the majority of our society leads. So many say they do not have time to garden, I say make the time, even if it is a pot of herbs or flowers, it is a start, a step down the path to reconnecting with their Earth's cycles.

Many claim they have black thumbs, that they cannot grow anything. I don't believe that for a second. Take the time to find a basic book on gardening, or even find a website online, there are loads out there! Start small, say marigold seeds, radish seeds...something that is easy to grow and sprouts quickly. Take time each day to tend your plantings, in return this slows you down to connect with Nature's cycles, offer you a moment to breathe and just be.

By growing your own flowers, herbs and/or fruits and veg you are easing up the burden on this planet that builds when we purchase "ready made" items. If you are growing flowers you provide food and shelter to creatures. If you should fail miserably keep trying! don't give up! It is in every Pagan to protect and nourish our planet, and if it's not then how in tune can one truly be with the Earth and the God/Goddess? Once you are to the point you feel comfortable in your abilities expand out. perhaps you could plant a small herb or veg garden. Grow your own organic food to nourish your body, or your mate's body, your child's body, your pet's body. From there learn what you can about permaculture, there are ways to return the planet to a healthier state, leave woodlands and even your yard to grow more naturally, this allows the ecosystem of your small bit of earth to balance.

For more experienced gardeners try your hand at themed herb or flower gardens. Ellen Dugan's Garden Witchery and Patricia Telesco's Gardening with the Goddess both offer some great ideas. For a more Pagan/spiritual approach, Marian Green's Wild Witchcraft is fantastic and highly recommended. Another one recommended by H&H Witchery member Aluna is "The Magical Garden-Spells, charms, and lore for magical gardens and the curious gardeners who tend them." by Sophia.

For those who wish to have kitchen gardens look to books from authors John Seymour and Eliot Coleman for instructions, info and ideas. These two authors are very detailed and probably more for those serious about organic gardening and self-sufficient living. Check out our garden links page for more on the basics of gardening. Here at chez Mama Moon we are readying our land to garden year round (this is Zone 4 in northern New England, mind you). More of that will be shared in Spring 2006.







Getting Started

Let’s start with the soil, it needs to be tilled and amended. What? Easy now, we’ll take this step by step.

First, be sure that it is the right time of the season for your plants. In the Northern states we cannot plant frost-tender plants until the risk of frost/freezes has past, usually mid-late May. The Old Farmer’s Almanac has a listing of last frost dates for your area.

Planning your garden and choosing your seeds. Seeds are not created equal, nor are all seed houses. Most of your "brand name" seed packets found in stores today are from companies who have hybridized and genetically altered the seeds so that they produce fruits and veggies with seeds that are promoted as hardier but they are sterile and you are dependant on this company to buy more seed each year, lovely way to insure repeat business huh? There are many seed houses that supply superior, heirloom seed. They may cost a dollar or so more per packet but seeds can be saved by the end of the growing season which in turn will save you having to buy new seed each year. There are also seed exchange groups on the web you can trade with.

To find superior mail order seed companies check out the Garden Watchdog section at Dave's Garden, there you can enter a company name and find feedback and ratings from the members.

Find a plot of land you wish to use for your garden space, it should have a southern exposure so that it gets plenty of direct sunlight. Be sure it gets a minimum of 5-6 hours of sunlight a day. Herbs, fruits and veggies need plenty of sunlight while shade-loving plants will like your Northern and eastern facing areas. It is also important that your garden is protected should your yard be buffeted by steady winds all day as that will stunt the growth of your plants. (believe me, I know!)

A smart idea is to have your soil tested to see what sort of goodies and nasties live in your soil, this will be the source of nutrition for your future plants so it’s always a good idea, I for one have never done it.

Now for the digging, or not. There are several ways to fashion a garden bed, you can dig directly into the earth, loosening up the earth and removing grass, etc. double digging method or tilling are two methods. Other ways to create less labor-intensive garden beds is to make raised beds which can be made with a frame of wood, cinder blocks or bricks and fill the space with soil, compost and manure. The lasagna method is another way to create a garden and provide healthy, fertile soil for your plants. Lastly if garden beds aren’t your style or you lack the space there is the easy and versatile container gardening which is very simple and allows you to grow nearly any sort of garden plant. All you need is a pot large enough to hold the plant of your choice when it is fully matured and is filled with compost, soil, rocks for drainage and manure.

Now that you have your space let’s look at the soil. Certain plants have certain needs in order to thrive, one cannot simple stick some seeds into the earth and have an enormous, prolific zucchini plant in a few months. Well, one could but more often than not it’s highly unlikely.

Most veggie gardens will grow well with a blend of compost and manure mixed into the soil. It you have sandy soil then adding some peat moss can help keep the water from draining too fast. Clay soils will have better drainage with the addition of some course sand.

Depending on the type of garden your plants will need more or less special amendments. Planting a kitchen garden? Heavy feeders like tomatoes, peppers, anything in the squash family and potatoes need lots of extra manure. The easiest way to do this is when you are planting say, a tomato seedling for example, digging a hole or trench for the plant (a trench offers more room for root development, dig the trench and lay the seedling into the trench gently guiding the top of the plant upward while packing the soil around the root ball and stalk of the plant. Tomatoes will root into the soil from them stalk if it comes in contact with soil.) add in a good amount of rotted manure to the hole, I will add in half a dozen trowels-full or a shovelful (or two) before I add the plant. I will add this same amount to any “heavy feeder” I am planting. Pumpkins will grow like mad if planted in straight manure.

As for the rest of your garden plants they will like a good soil but will not perform well with extra manure-plants like lettuces, carrots, herbs, peas like a fertile soil but too much isn’t good. There are also plants that fall in between these two-beans come to mind. That like a nitrogen-filled manure but can produce less fruit if there is too much of a good thing. If you can get your hands on compost then you will have everything your plants need for a productive season.

With a garden comes garden pests, it is highly recommended that you NEVER use manmade insecticide. Organic gardening provides you with healthy food and keeps the ground healthy. When you use those manmade products you not only kill the pests you kill the critters beneficial for your garden and also mess with the balance of the ecosystem. There are effective ways to deal with creepy crawlies such as tobacco hornworms, aphids, cutworms, cabbage worms, Japanese beetles and the like, it takes some research but you will benefit from it in the end.

My first gardening season here chez Mama Moon was nearly disastrous. Unfamiliar with this area I had no idea what to expect in the garden, I grew up in a different area of the state and our biggest problems were deer and cutworms. Upon moving here my garden and container plants were devastated by aphids, tobacco hornworms, cabbage worms and slugs. I lost squash, tomatoes, pepper, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower, devoured practically overnight. Look to nature to find natural predators to these pests. I encourage and welcome local birds into the garden. They eat the creepy crawlies, leave behind droppings which in turn fertilize the soil and the minimal scratching they do helps to aerate the soil. I now raise chickens which do wonders for cleaning up the overabundance of insects and critters in the yard and garden, my Japanese beetle population was significantly smaller after setting my flock of chickens loose in the yard to scratch up grubs to their heart’s content. However they can be just as devastating to a garden, even more so as I discovered last summer. The chickens now get the run of the beds in spring, before I plant, and then again in the autumn after everything has been harvested. Another good addition to one’s yard is ladybugs which will devastate the aphid population. I will be adding natural and less/non toxic garden remedies to this site soon for helping rid the garden of the unwelcome critters.

Now once your garden has been planted (either by seedlings or the direct sowing of seeds) now comes the upkeep of staying ahead of the weeds. If you take a short amount of time each day or so to pluck a few stray weeds you will find that by the end of the season your garden is not simply a mass of weeds gone wild. I find weeding in the mornings to be relaxing and later on in the season you can keep an eye out for those pesky hornworms.

Regular watering is a personal choice. Many do not water, they instead choose to let Mother Nature do the work for them. I prefer to help my garden along because of where it is situated, it gets a lot of wind all day and dries out easily. I also mulch the beds once the plants are up which nearly eliminates weeding and helps to keep the moisture in the ground. Ideally I’d like a barrel that catches rainwater to use for watering, I live in a damp wetland area of the state so mosquitoes are insane here and until I can get something that is covered to prevent breeding mosquitoes (and convince my partner that this will work) I water.


Read more on why genetically modified (GMO’s) seeds are not a good thing.
Say No to GMO


More garden links:

French Intensive Gardening
Grow open pollinated seeds for self-reliant gardening
Organic Gardening
United Plant Savers

Seed Sources:

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
Fedco
High Mowing Organic Seeds
Johnny’s Selected Seed
Seeds of Change
Seed Savers
Territorial Seed Co.
The Cook’s Garden
Vermont Bean
Victory Heirloom Seeds




Guide to Planting by the Moon
Potting Soil Recipes
Magickal Gardening Links
Rose Dew
Cultivating Willow Trees
Flowers, Herbs and Faeries
Butterfly Garden Basics
Enchanted Night Garden




Fairy Garden
4" pot of blue fescue grass
4" pot Gerbera Daisy (cream or white)
a six pack of Nemesia (they look like tiny snapdragons)
medium size color bowl
potting soil

Arrange it so that the Gerbera Daisy is in the back and the blue fescue is in the front, fill it in with the Nemesia plants and if you want, add some small leafed English Ivy or little violas- depending on the size of your bowl.

SOURCE: Unknown



Why it Matters to Buy Heirloom Plants and Seeds
by Annie Berthold-Bond
http://www.care2.com/channels/solutions/outdoors/415

The loss of genetic seed diversity facing us today may lead to a catastrophe far beyond our imagining. The Irish potato famine, which led to the death or displacement of two and a half million people in the 1840s, is an example of what can happen when farmers rely on only a few plant species as crop cornerstones.

Simple Solution:
One blight wiped out the single potato type that came from deep in the Andes mountains; it did not have the necessary resistance. If the Irish had planted different varieties of potatoes, one type would have most likely resisted the blight.
We can help save heirloom seeds by learning how to buy and save these genetically diverse jewels ourselves.
more here



More to come


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