Garden Update – July 4, 2018

THEY LIVE!

After much toil and tribulation (and having to start half my garden over due to using too much seed starter), things are finally thriving again. I had to take out several herb plants, but I was able to save the Immortal plants and the sweet basil, and the rest just gave me opportunity for a fresh start.

We now have pea vines and garden beans climbing up homemade dowel cluster trellises and looking MUCH healthier than their free-standing predecessors. There’s a similar trellis around the store-bought cherry tomato plant, but it’s most to keep it from leaning. Once fruiting starts in earnest, I’ll be inverting the trellises and adding wooden hoops for stability.

Trying my hand at cucumbers for the first time. They’re miniatures, but it should prove interesting. I’ll have to make a trellis for them at some point too.

The pepper have had a time of it. The cats ate the jalapeno sprouts and overturned the red chili pot, but I was able to save the seedlings from the latter. The other, I had to replant, but it’s all good.

The catnip was a casualty of the Great Wilting, and has been resown. The catgrass seeds I put in are doing surprisingly well! They need to be resown every other week for best results, and after the next picking, I’m probably going to dump the container and put in fresh soil.

I planted baby spinach in the old pepper pot, which gives it a lot more room to grow and allows me to plant in staggered rows. I’m hoping for a good yield, perhaps enough to throw in with the basil for a nice homemade pesto. The large-leaf variety still refuses to grow very much, but I’m babying it as best I can. If I have to start that over, then I will.

This summer’s garden is a pretty significant change for me, as past years have seen me work largely with herbs for medicine or witchcraft. The current setup is focused largely on produce and edibles, both in an effort to reduce grocery bills and to practice the homesteading that I hope to one day apply to a much larger outdoor garden.

Hope you’re all enjoying the summer so far. How are your gardens doing?

Advertisements

My First Workshop

About a week ago, I hosted my first witchcraft workshop at an informal local pre-solstice gathering. The session went very well, all the participants seemed to have a good time, and I got some great feedback and suggestions for possible future workshops at larger festivals. I’m keeping it in mind for this fall, so keep those ears to the ground!

For the workshop, I gave a short dissertation on lunar-oriented attraction magic and then showed the participants how to make Supermoon Wish Jars. In order to simplify matters, I provided four simple recipes geared toward four general magical intentions, and brought a bunch of items from my own stories for them to work with. I also brought some spare glass ball ornaments I had sitting around just for funsies, so everybody got to go home with a wish jar and an ornament, plus a tiny jar of my homemade Banishing Powder.

As a special summer treat, I’m publishing the wish jar recipes here for folks to try on their own time. These are suggestions; feel free to make up recipes of your own, or check out my book Grovedaughter Witchery for additional ideas.

PROTECTION
-Rosemary
-Basil
-Sea Salt
-Holly Leaf
-Juniper Berries

Anoint rim with Dragon’s Blood Oil. Seal with white or black wax.

HEALING
-Basil
-Echinacea
-Horehound
-Lavender
-Sassafras

Anoint rim with Basil Oil. Seal with red or green wax.

LUCK / SUCCESS
-Clover Blossom
-Apple Wood Chip
-Galangal Root (or Cinnamon Stick)
-Rosemary
-Sassafras

Anoint rim with Amber Oil. Seal with orange or white wax.

MONEY-DRAW
-Rice
-Allspice
-Orange Peel
-Juniper Berries
-Rosemary

Anoint rim with Orange Oil. Seal with green or gold wax.

Happy Witching!

Garden Update

So as it turns out, something went wrong with several of my plants and I wound up having to tear out and redo half of my garden. It’s a bit discouraging, but I choose to see it as an opportunity to improve.

The problem was (I think) that I used too much seed starter mix in my topsoil. It dried out as the plants grew and choked the stems. Watering only helped up to a certain point, because either the seed starter would soak it all up or the plants would turn floppy. In the end, half the peppers, two pots of basil, the baby spinach, one of the pea plants, and the entire pot of beans withered and died and had to be thrown out.

The good news is, I still have another pot of peppers that is doing fine after some aeration and careful tending. The sweet basil is recovering nicely, and the catnip and large-leaf spinach sprouts and the larger pea plants are okay too. So I’ve lost nothing that I can’t regrow, really.

I chose to change things up a bit when I replanted. I bought a small cherry tomato plant and some chocolate mint to liven things up, planted several rows of baby spinach in the large square container that used to hold pepper plants, sowed some catgrass for Havoc and Penny, and restarted the beans with a sturdier “bush” variety that doesn’t need as much support. I also aerated the soil in all the surviving pots and tied off the largest pea vine, which is starting to flower. And by sheer dumb luck, I found a few red chili seeds in the bottom of the packet, so husband Ragnar might just get his favorites after all.

Somehow, it felt good to pull the dead plants and put in new ones. It was the same sort of satisfaction you get from being able to scrap a project that just isn’t working and starting over fresh. Cathartic, in a way.

So the moral of the story is to be mindful of your mix when you grow plants from seed, and to observe them for signs of OVERwatering as well as underwatering. There’s definitely going to be some notation in Grovedaughter’s Garden about this whole mess. It’s been a life lesson.

Witches&Pagans Book Review

Grovedaughter Witchery by Bree NicGarran

Every once in a while you run into a book and find yourself thinking, “Wow, I wish I’d had this book when I was starting out!” NicGarran’s book is one of those; it’s basic in the best possible way: fundamental, taking nothing for granted, with an emphasis on doing your own research. It’s written very clearly, and the author’s patient and practical tone is very helpful. There’s a strong emphasis on safely dealing with “real world” elements such as fire and dangerous plants.

This is not to say that this book is for beginners only. I really appreciated her discussion of the scarcity and endangered status of some magical plants. The book covers a wide range of spell purposes and formats, with a good balance of “how to” and “recipe” sections. Many of her innovations could expand the toolkit of any experienced spellcrafter. The reference material is useful, too; there are listings of plants by magical use, plus sections for the “go-to” purposes like warding and hexing.

NicGarran’s system is heavily herbalism-based; in that and in many other ways it resembles folk magic systems from a wide variety of cultures, with one major difference: there are no goddesses or gods, no spirits, no prayers. The author views witchcraft as practical spellcraft, and presents her system without any religious elements. She presents a strong framework that doesn’t require religious, spiritual, or astrological/lunar elements.

This is a really impressive work. NicGarran has built it from the ground up and tested every spell and charm that she’s created. I’m not much of a magician (though my spouse is), but I do occasionally need to do some spellwork. I’m going to keep this one on my shelf, as I have a feeling it will end up being very useful.

Review by Hugh Eckert
Witches&Pagans magazine, Issue #35, January 2018

The Grovedaughter’s ACTUAL Garden

Behold my lovely plantbabies! The greenery is really booming, thanks to a few days of good sun.

I’m growing more veggies than herbs this year, which is a change from my usual plan of a variety of herbs for witchery. Last year’s crop was sufficient to stock my jars for a good while, so this season I can focus on edible things.

In addition to my must-haves of Basil, Catnip, and Sage, I’m also growing green beans, peas, two varieties of spinach, and four varieties of chili peppers. Everything has sprouted except for the large-leaf spinach and the peas. I have high hopes for a good yield this year, since I got a nice early start on my planting.

Now if I could just stop eating the baby spinach and sweet basil….

Check out my new Patreon page!

Bree NicGarran on Patreon

Times have changed, and so has the craft. The old texts are all well and good, but with the modern proliferation and incredible variety of practitioners in the community, there needs to be new material to support the new generation. Witches are looking for new angles and fresh ideas to supplement their practices, and that’s what I’ve chosen to write about.

My first solo project, Grovedaughter Witchery, was a brand-new take on the Witchcraft 101 book, with a focus on accessibility, secular inclusion, responsible crafting, and solid practical advice. It debuted to rave reviews and a weeklong stay at the top of the Amazon’s top sellers list for the overall Witchcraft category. Readers and reviewers alike have remarked on the practicality of the text, and the oft-repeated phrase that turns up is “Where was THIS when I was starting out!” A review in Witches & Pagans magazine (Issue #35 – Natural Paganism) praised the book as a friendly and conversational read, calling it innovative, accessible, and useful for practitioners of all experience levels.

With the help of patrons like you, I hope to make writing my fulltime job, so that I can keep creating amazing books like this one. I’ve got several projects in the works right now, and all of them promise to be great additions to the library of the working witch. All I need is time to focus on research and creation, and your contributions help support me and keep the lights on while I work toward my next publication.

Thank you very much for all your support thus far and for your continued encouragement as I move forward with my writing. Please feel free to email me with questions, tag me in social media, and spread the words to your witchy friends and family. Every little bit of recognition, visibility, and positivity and every cent of your donations is appreciated more than I can possibly say!

Love and Best Wishes,

Bree NicGarran

The Grovedaughter’s Year – First Robin Day

(This is my personal lore and may or may not match with anyone else’s view of the seasonal rotations or deities associated with such things.)

When I lived in Pennsylvania, we used to mark the day that we saw the first robin after the new year. Up north, it was usually sometime in February or early March, but apparently here in Virginia, late January works just fine too.

(We have the January Thaw here, where there’s a couple of random days in January that are unseasonably warm before another cold front blows through and freezes things solid again. Thanks, Global Warming.)

As a witch, I’ve started celebrating First Robin Day as one of the first signs of spring. It’s a simple thing, mostly involving opening windows and airing the house, and scattering a cup or two of birdseed for the robin and his winged brethren.

It’s also a day for self-care and re-awakening of the self. First Robin Day is a good day to do a bit of cleaning, to re-evaluate goals for the coming months, and to get a bit of fresh air. Pay attention to your health on this day and take time to do something that makes you feel awake and alive.

Lore

Brighid, tending Her fires through the winter snows, sends a messenger to see if the world is ready to be awakened yet. With the red-breasted messenger comes a rush of warmth from the forge, which stirs the wintering world and causes it to turn over in its’ sleep.

The robin returns to Brighid and twitters, “Not yet, not yet. But soon! Very soon!” The Lady smiles and goes back to the forge until Her feast day of Imbolc (Feb. 2) or the Spring Solstice (Mar. 20-21), whichever is soonest after the robin’s first flight.

On Imbolc, Brighid may walk abroad herself. If Imbolc is sunny, She will gather more wood for the forge, resulting in six more weeks of winter. If Imbolc is cloudy, She will stay in to tend the fires and spring will come all the sooner for Her efforts.

By the Solstice, the wheel has turned. Brighid takes over for the winter gods in the beginning of March, and She sets to work waking the earth and bringing things into bloom.