Goddess Gardening: Practical & Magical Considerations
“Gardening requires a lot of water-most of it in the form of perspiration.”
The Goddess has always been a very practical deity. She understands all too well that not all of us have a lot of free time, abundant open spaces, an excellent source of gardening know-how and tools, or even good nurseries/seed outlets. She also knows that for any Witches garden to be successful, we have to first consider all of these issues as they may affect our daily lives.
How to Start a Magical Goddess Garden
Gardens take some time to achieve success. The smaller the effort, the less time involved. Be forewarned that even a small garden can become quite addicting, and you may find yourself adding more, or spending more time working it than you expected initially.
To be honest, starting out small has numerous advantages. You can really get to know a few plant types, what they like, what they don’t like, and how to handle their needs. You can also direct more energy into them because you’re focusing on a confined space.
Additionally, each type of greenery has magickal associations ascribed to it so you can augment those associations through that focus if you choose. How? By adding sacred crystals, nurturing with organic blends, praying over them and simply being a good steward of your garden
For those of you with little proverbial real estate, starting small is a necessity. Don’t sweat it. There’s a lot of Goddess-centered work you can do with porch pots and window boxes, especially if you like tomatoes, flowers, and herbs.
Goddess Magickal Gardening Basic Tools
Both small and large gardens require a few good tools, many of which you may be able to make out of kitchen implements or buy inexpensively at secondhand and discount stores. There are also some niceties that you may find you want as you garden more. The basics are listed here:
- Space: Whether it’s a patch of yard or several window boxes and planters, you need room within which your plants can grow. If this space is within your line of sight, all the better. Seeing that garden regularly reminds you to tend it and send good energy its way on a regular basis. Hint: Location is important. Some plants love the sun, and others gripe about it being too hot.
- Soil: You can add some potting soil or topsoil, compost, or other fertilizers to yard dirt if it’s leached of nutrients. Note: Always read up on the kind of soil your plants like. Some want rocky foundations for drainage, others like sand, others like loam. The better you prepare your soil for the plants chosen, the greatest success your Witch Garden will have. Many towns and cities have community colleges that can test your soil for you at very reasonable prices. Knowing the pH balance ahead of time ensures picking the best plants for your environment.
- Hand Tools: A trowel, spade, or a sturdy spoon works for digging using small efforts. A good shovel will be necessary for yard work, and a sturdy garden rake is very helpful for landscaping and larger outdoor efforts. Though not tools per se, garden gloves and knee pads save a lot of wear and tear on your hands and clothes, respectively. From a spiritual perspective, some of these implements could become a magical tool for Goddess Garden rituals
- Fencing: If you need to keep pets or children out of a garden (or if your yard is accessible to wandering animals), fencing is well worth considering. Fencing is sometimes necessary for flourishing climbing greenery, such as ivy and honeysuckle.
- Seeds, Seedlings, or Plants: Take your time and shop around for good sources. You want good quality young plants to achieve the best quality gardens. Although an accomplished gardener can often nurse sickly plants back to health, it takes a lot of extra time and effort.
- Garden Outlets: And nurserymen in your area, where you can go and feel out the plants (not to mention survey their physical condition and the condition of the outlet), are one good source. Look for stores where the plants are set up in an orderly fashion, where the salespeople are knowledgeable, and where the plants look well-tended. A lot of wilted, browning or pale plants are not signs of a good nursery.
- Avoid Internet Purchases: Unless you know the source (or can confirm its quality). Remember you won’t see the plants in person until after you pay for them. With that caution aside, good reviews from numerous clients provide a modicum of peace-of-mind.
- Decorative Touches: Do you like to tweak everything, including Nature? Then get ready to accessorize your garden! Decorative touches can be very utilitarian, such as a rabbit that disguises a watering device, a fountain to attract birds or butterflies or a trellis for climbing flowers and vegetables. On the other hand, these touches can be purely whimsical, such as statuary and special edging that makes the whole garden “pop.”
- Embellishments: How much or little embellishing you do is completely up to you, but make sure these additions match the Goddess or Witch Goddess theme you’re trying to create. For example, when doing an Athenic garden, it makes sense to look into a statue of Athena as a centerpiece or accent point. Similarly, in a garden for Pax, the Goddess of peace, it would be nice to have white stones, and large pieces of amethyst styled into a peace symbol to accent that harmonious energy.
- Stones: Another nice touch that honors your land is to keep any sizable stones you dig up and use them as borders, plant markers or accent pieces. Wash these off and allow your intuition to guide you in their placement. If you think for a moment of large stone circles, such as Stonehenge and Callanish, you are participating in an age-old tradition used at sacred sites, which is what your garden is becoming. You’re just doing it on a smaller scale.
Resource Information for Magickal Goddess Gardens
Consider getting at least two good garden encyclopedias or magazine subscriptions that cover the type of plants with which you want to work. Alternatively, take a little time surfing the net for garden-oriented sites. Don’t be surprised to discover literally thousands of sites dedicated to gardening. Compare and contrast the ideas they offer. It may take a little diligence to weed through them, but I promise you will pull up at least a handful that you’ll want to return to again and again. Bookmark them!
There are some wonderful “real-life” resources out there too, such as home and garden shows, garden clubs, arboretums, greenhouses, and so forth. Many of these resources offer free information for those baffling gardening questions; others have some instructive materials available at very low costs.
No matter your tact, having good resources will make your Goddess and Wiccan gardening efforts much more pleasant from the get-go because you can benefit from other peoples’ mistakes and triumphs.
Natural Methods for Keeping Your Magic Garden Healthy
“A prudent man does not make the goat his gardener.”
– Hungarian Proverb
If you talk to people living a metaphysical lifestyle, most all advocate natural foods and flowers rather than treated ones. Chemicals don’t mix well with magick. For one, we cannot be completely certain what type of energies these things bear when we blend them into our mixes. For another, anything that’s consumed, buried, burned, or scattered the winds will carry those chemicals back to the planet, which isn’t really an Earth-friendly approach!
Unfortunately, the soil in a lot of people’s yards isn’t always the best, and insects are certainly part of nature, even if we might wish otherwise. Rather than simply reach for an over-the-counter preparation that may not be good for the planet or our spiritual pursuits, however, I feel it’s important to consider alternatives. Many of these alternatives come to us from our ancestors who didn’t have the advantage of man-made pest deterrents. This brings us to the tried-n-true methods of companion planting.
[wisew_rectangle_large align=”right”]Thankfully our ancestors left us a wealth of knowledge about Nature’s little helpers: plants that help other plants grow, plants that deter specific types of bugs, and even plants that make for tastier vegetables! This approach is known as companion planting. Let’s first look at plants that enhance flavor. According to tradition, one should plant basil with tomatoes, dill with cabbage, mustard with beans, and dandelion with apples. On the other hand, it’s not recommended that sage and onion grow in the same garden, nor cabbage and grapes. Similarly, don’t plant blackberries, lilac, azalea, or rhododendrons anywhere near black walnut trees, anise near carrots, chives near peas, dill near tomatoes, garlic near beans, marigolds near beans, or mustard ear turnips. Although this information hasn’t been “proven,” old-time gardeners swear by it!
Next, consider the plants that help other plants grow more fully and abundantly. Use this list in considering the way you plan the layout of your garden. Pair:
- Bean with mustard or rosemary.
- Carrot with chives or sage.
- Coriander with anise.
- Cucumber with chamomile.
- Lettuce with chrysanthemum.
- Marigold with tomato or rose.
- Onion with dill.
- Pepper with basil.
- Potato with horseradish or thyme.
- Rose with garlic or onion.
- Strawberry with onion or sage.
- Tomato with mint.
- Vegetables (general) with tarragon.
If you decide to try companion planting, you can approach it in several ways. The first is simply planting one tomato seedling followed by a mint plant in a row, and then repeat. The second approach is having one whole row of tomatoes with a row of mint adjacent. Warning: do not plant mint unless you want a LOT of it. The third approach is planting decoratively, such as two or three tomato sprouts surrounded in a circle of mint, which is quite pleasing to the eye and still serves the enrichment function. This last option is particularly nice for Goddess gardens where one builds multi-sensual energy that reaches out to the mind and spirit at the same time.
All Natural Bug Repellents for Magical Gardening
Similar to companion planting, old-time gardeners also used various bits of greenery to deter bugs. Here’s a list of some of the plants used to keep specific insects away from the garden:
- Ant: Mint, tansy
- Aphids: Garlic
- Asparagus Beetle: Basil, tomato
- Beetle: Parsley
- Cabbage Butterfly: Southernwood
- Carrot Fly: Leek, rosemary, sage
- Flea Beetle: Sage, tobacco, thyme
- Japanese Beetle: Chive, garlic
- Nematode: Marigold
- Potato Beetle: Tansy, catnip, nasturtium, marigold
- Peach Aphid: Catnip
- Slug: Wormwood
- Squash Bug: Tansy
- Whitefly: Nasturtium
Note that some items even deter mice, rabbits, or moles like wormwood, garlic or marigold, and narcissus respectively. Human hair is an alternative. Just clean out those brushes and sprinkle the hair into the soil. The smell is not animal but rather “predator” so the critter stays away.
If you’re looking at this list and thinking it’s impossible to plant everything necessary to keep your garden insect-free, there’s an alternative. Get some fresh leaves and flowers from tomatoes, sage, wormwood, marigolds and boil them in water. The stronger this mixture is, the better. (Just cover the plants with water and simmer until it makes a strong tea.) Sprinkle this on your garden after every rain. The aromatics may not be as strong as other insect deterrents, but they’re natural and can even provide more nourishment to the soil.
Natural Fertilizer for Growing a Strong Magical Garden
One of the best natural fertilizers can be made by filling a household bucket with nettles, dandelions, Valerian, yarrow, chamomile, and oak bark. Cover this with water and leave it the sun for three weeks. Water your plants with this once a week. The residuals from this fertilizing tea can be easily turned into compost.
Compost: Speaking of compost, this is an excellent recycling and enrichment project for your home and soil (Green Witches take note). Coffee grounds, hair, vegetable ends and pieces, grass clippings, peanut shells, sawdust, egg shells, and fish are all compostable. Do, however, check local regulations about what type of container you need to compost so that you don’t get fined or attract rodents.
Good Bugs Rule: Finally, another way to improve the yield in your Witches garden is attracting “good” bugs that pollinate your plants. Some options include Queen Anne’s lace, flowering carrot, and fennel. For drawing bees to your Goddess garden use chives, sage, thyme, and oregano all of which supply the Kitchen Witch’s pantry too.
Keeping the Magic Goddess Garden Beautiful
For those of you who don’t have time to grow or make your own fertilizers and repellents, many garden and nursery outlets now offer organic alternatives. They tend to cost a little more, but they are certainly more reflective of everything we’re trying to honor and achieve in our goddess gardens. Two other options exist too: mulch and weed block.
Mulch comes in a variety of types, including cedar, pine, wormwood, and hardwood. Mulch gives a garden a nice, finished look. Some kinds of mulch deter insects (other than wood ants), and all prevent weed growth. Better still, mulch doesn’t hurt the soil in the least. You can simply tum it into the earth at the end of the season.
Weed block is a type of cloth that blocks sunlight but allows water through. Thus, the soil continues to receive moisture, but any weeds beneath will not grow from the lack of sun. Typically, something is placed on top of the weed block once it’s laid around your plants, such as mulch or landscaping stone.
So Where’s the Magick in a Magick Garden?
All of this sounds anything but spiritual. Our ancestors knew, however, that they had to learn about nature to produce good products. There is no reason that science and spirituality cannot work together. The Goddess is up to that challenge! Be patient and trust that with time, practice and your Goddess.
Adapted from “Gardening with the Goddess,” by Patricia Telesco. All rights reserved.