The Magical Herb Garden




Spiritual Reflections

Pagan Witchcraft


Who Is Starweaver?

Archive of Past Issues

Site Index

Blog: Starweaver's Corner


Spring is still a few months away here, so instead of a report from outdoors this time, I thought I'd write a little about growing a simple herb garden for culinary and magical purposes.

Most herbs are easy to grow. Once established, they do not need feeding and can get along without much water either. Although most can be grown from seed, it is easier and more reliable to buy small plants from a local nursery, or to passed along from a friend.

Most herbs are perennial, meaning they live and grow year after year. A few, however, cannot survive a New Mexico winter and are grown as annuals. Despite their durability, all herbs need reasonable garden care the first year so that they can become established. Perennial herbs often seem uninterested in doing much their first year, but in the second or third year they can become surprisingly robust and vigorous.

Select a site that gets sun most of the day, and is never soggy. A little basic garden soil preparation (spading, adding some organic matter) helps. Plant the herbs after danger of frost has passed in the spring. (That's late May here.) The perennials can take a little cold weather, but there's no need to be stressing them before they get used to their new home.

Here are some of the most commonly grown herbs that are delightful in the kitchen as well as for their magical use. Each becomes like an old friend after a few years in the garden.

Basil is a very tender annual; do not plant until danger freezing is well passed. Start with the basic Italian basil, as this has the right flavor for use in most recipes. If you have room, you can branch out into more exotic varieties. Basil is associated with love, engagement and betrothal.

Feverfew is an annual or biennial that reseeds itself copious. Use as a tea to treat migraines. Also a protection herb.

Lavender is a fragrant, flowering herb with healing properties. Read about it here.

Mint (spearmint, peppermint, and lots of other flavors as well) is an attractive perennial with dark green leaves that can become invasive. It's an exception to the rule that herbs don't like wet soil. It will do quite well in a moist shady corner of your garden. Mint is good for healing, travel, and wealth.

Parsley tends to be biennial, overwintering but then going to seed and dying the following year. Protection, purification, feasting, and festivity.

Rosemary is a perennial, but is rather tender and can die overwinter unless planted next to a warm, south-facing wall or well mulched. The plants have a very neat appearance, like small pine trees. Clears the mind for thought and for sleep. Also associated with devotion, good luck, and remembrance.

Sage is a delightfully attractive perennial, with broad, textured, grey-green leaves. The purple and tricolor varieties are fun to try and have the same flavor. The sage usually grown for smudge sticks is a different kind than kitchen sage, but they are similar and can be interchanged. Sage is associated with longevity, virtue, skill, and wisdom.

Thyme is a perennial with tiny leaves on tough, woody stems. You can get the leaves off by running your fingers down the sprig from top to bottom. Health, purification, activity, bravery, and courage.

Use your herbs fresh from the plant during the summer months. To continue to enjoy them through the winter, harvest them in quantity shortly before the first frost in autumn, and hang them upside down to dry inside or in a protected location outside.

In the Garden is a regular feature of Starweaver's Gems from Earth and Sky

Copyright © 2008 Tom Waters