Category Archives: vegetables

Seeds of Hope

Merry meet all,

I love the warm glow of a candle on an overcast wet day. I love gardens and seeds too. I want to talk about how to start seeds in starter pots, because you know, its that time of year!!!

There is more to popping a seed into soil than most people know. It is a bit of an art and a science.

What you will need are seeds, seed starting soil, starter pots, water, and a sunny windowsill. Often, the seed packets come with instructions on where to plant the seeds and how deep and how far apart from other seeds. The size of the seed determines how it gets planted too. Tiny seeds rest on the surface of the soil and larger seeds can be planted deeper in the soil.

Don’t make the mistake I made and put too many seeds in one slot. They will grow better if they are spread out into several slots. I like to fill the starter pot with the right amount of soil and then water it. I let the soil settle then fill the cavity with soil. Then I add the seeds. This avoids the seed drowning in the wet soil and prepares the soil for the seeds. Do not fertilize the soil at this point. That comes much later.

Be sure the starter pot has a hole for water and that you have some form of tray beneath the starter pot. Add the seeds to the soil. If they are large, push them in deep using the end of a pencil. Tiny seeds rest on the surface of the soil. Lightly dust the soil over the seeds. Do not add compost or mulch. Just put the starter pot on the watering tray and then put that onto a sunny windowsill. You can also use grow lights.

At this stage, it is good to wait until a tiny sprout shoots up from the soil. Do not douse the plant in water when you see a sprout. Let the soil dry out between watering. Make sure the seedling gets plenty of sunlight. Also make sure there is a good comfortable temperature in the room.

When a seedling comes up, it will grow its first set of leaves. This is called a cotyledon. Then when it grows the next set of leaves, that is its true leaves. Despite what some sources tell you, its not a good idea to transplant a seedling when the second set of leaves appear. This only confuses the seedling resulting in the plant needing then to put its energy into being moved and adjusting to the new pot. Its energy should be focused on just growing in its present pot. When the roots show beneath or just at the bottom of the starter pot, then you can think of transplantation. Let the plant grow where it is. It is happier that way.

Try not to over water a seedling. It might rot, die off from over watering or its tips might turn brown. When my seedlings were starting out, I added the tiniest amount of water. I knew the sunlight and the soil would sustain them. They don’t need as much water as you believe. Oregano, sage, thyme, these herbs may have come from the Mediterranean. They are accustomed to the hot temperatures there.

Be patient. The seedling is doing the best it can. As a baby plant, like any other newborn, it takes time to grow. It will take a long time to grow to a large size anyway. even years. A true gardener is patient.

I hope this helps you to grow many lovely herbs and flowers!! I wish you luck with it. You can grow anything you want. Once you master how to start from seed, you might not buy seedlings from garden centers again. You will save money starting from your saved seeds too.

I am happy to say that I started a cherry tree from seed outside in my garden!!! I overwintered the seed in the soil. It emerged this spring. I set a circle of stones around the seedling. I also added clean chicken bones to the soil. The bones take 20 to 25 years to decompose or break down. They will become ground bone meal eventually and add nutrients to the seedling. 

I am trying a raised bed area in my garden this year too. I cleared away a patch of dead rotting wood behind the fence of the yard where I live. I used the logs for the raised bed. I plan to fill it with soil then add my indoor seedling transplants I have lovingly tended this spring. I have to clear away weeds and put down newspaper first then I can add soil. I can’t wait. It is my first time trying a raised bed. I am very excited!!!

Blessed  be, Lady Spiderwitch )O(

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Flu Season Tips

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Merry meet all,

I know it’s been a few days since my last blog post. I have been brutally ill from a flu bug that nearly bit the very life out of me. It was the most horrid flu bug I have ever had. I ached all over from head to toe, and thought I would die. I spent 3 days in bed. I won’t go into more gross detail but I also had to go to a dental appointment first thing in the morning, first brutal day of the flu. I almost fell on the floor while I was there. I am here to give you some much needed survival tips on how to combat the flu and emerge a victor.

First things first…

Time. If you suspect you have the flu and feel the commonly known symptoms of the flu, cancel major appointments and important business meetings and travel plans. You can’t go anywhere if you are too sick to move and you risk infecting others with the same illness.

Provisions. Stock up on plenty of fresh ripe lemons, organic honey, toilet paper and Kleenex boxes, food that is sources of protein and vitamins such as colorful ripe vegetables, meat and shellfish, and beans and grains. These foods are rich sources of Vitamins A, D and B. These foods also contribute to boosting your immune systems. That is necessary to healing from the illness. Ginger and ginseng are also good for you.

Rest. I spent 3 shameless days in bed feeling like the world was going to end. I really did believe it. I was dizzy when I stood, my eyes burned, my back felt broken, I couldn’t help but sleep, and I sniffed and coughed uncontrollably. If that is not enough, I could only remain awake for 15 minutes at a time between long sleep intervals. So it is a good idea to cancel those meetings and travel plans and just stay home. No one else wants your cold. It is a hard cold fact of life.

Treatments. Get plenty of rest, don’t think you will be staying home watching videos or finishing your adult coloring book. If you have the flu as horribly as I did, this is the perfect time to take advantage of the sleep you need. Take the proper recommended doses of Tylenol or Ibuprofen at the right times. Stay hydrated. Take plenty of steamy showers to loosen up the mucus in your sinuses. Blow your nose often and keep the wastebasket near your bed. Extra tip: Line your wastebaskets/ cans with a plastic bag so it is easy to remove when full. Grocery bags are perfect for that. Keep a tray or a table near the bed but that is not in your way but makes it easy for you to access something if you need it in a hurry. Unplug the phone and internet, and close the curtains. I could barely stand so I welcomed the solitude. Fill the kettle early on in the day.

Health Boosters. I steered clear of Red Rose tea and only drank a bit of coffee. I drank a LOT of organic honey and lemon tea. Not Neo Citran- which is pure artificial sweetener, the real stuff. It was a savior scent from heaven, that concoction of awesome goodness. I cherished every drop. I lost my appetite but I still forced down a few healthy meals: an apple, pasta + brussel sprouts, seafood chowder,  lentil soup, sweet potatoes. These are the foods that give you your much needed health back.

A plan. Do go see your doctor. Your doctor can and will advise you if you have influenza, a viral infection or pneumonia. They can give you medicated pain and fever relief. If they do an x-ray, those will tell the doctors more about your condition. Try to take a cab or arrange a ride to and from the hospital. Try to avoid using the metro transit, if at all possible. People might be sick on the bus or you might infect them. 

Spoiling. This is the perfect time to spoil yourself. Go ahead and if you can handle it, have that spa day or staycation. I took hot showers. I also enjoyed a 20-minute soak in the tub. I added sage leaves I crumbled in my fingers, salt, Epsom salts, and clove essential oil. I exfoliated and scrubbed my finger and toenails. I made a natural mask for my skin of olive oil and honey, which I put on my face for a few moments than washed off after. I felt great. Go get lots of herbal teas for colds and keep them handy. Avoid alcohol and excessive amounts of caffeine. Read a nice health magazine. Recover in a clean apartment and bedroom. Change your bed linens once you are back on your feet. 

This is how I did it. I am finally on the road to recovery. For a while there, I wasn’t sure if I was going to live. But I must have some stoical endurance in me to have survived. With some luck, you will too. I hope you enjoyed reading my post and now have lots of ideas to guard your health. 

More tips: Do keep your room clean. Put some flowers in a vase. Dim the lights. Listen to soft low volume music. If you can handle it and won’t choke, sleep with a lozenge under your tongue as you sleep. Don’t choke. If you think you would choke, don’t do it. I managed to remain alert enough to not swallow the lozenge. Keep lozenges or a glass of water nearby instead as you sleep. Don’t have flashy lights or throbbing techno music booming in the background. Put off collecting the mail or throwing out the garbage. Just stay home. Your aching senses will thank you. Think Enigma, world music or Enya. Meditation can help as well as breathing exercises. Have plenty of Kleenex or toilet paper at hand. 

Good luck!

Blessed be, Lady Spiderwitch )O(

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Container Gardening

Merry Meet All,

I direct seeded radish into my garden this spring. That lured slugs near. I just waited for the radishes to emerge and replanted them into a container. I am glad I did. I want to be the one to bite into my own garden grown radish, not the pest. I know farmers and other eager gardeners brave the garden pests, but container gardening is very popular now, probably for that reason.

I attended a talk at the local library about container gardening. The planter I have is deep enough for radishes and can keep some pests away, ensuring that I will have a crop of radishes. They grow fast and can be sown when it is still cool in spring. While a container should be a foot deep or so to grow most veggies, you may be surprised at what you can use for a container.

Here is what you need to know to venture into the wonders of container gardening.

Your veggies will need six hours of sun a day.

Your veggies will need plenty of water. Test the soil before you water and wait till the end of the day. Container grown veggies may need more water than those grown in the garden, but you don’t want them to dry up or drown. You need to keep the soil moist, not wet. Make sure the container has good drainage or use stones to aid drainage.

Warmth- You can leave your containers out in the garden all summer. Leave the container where it is most likely to receive the most amount of sun. Also, use good potting soil. Refrain from using garden soil as it is not sterile and may contain weeds. Just discard weeds if you spot them in your container.

Fertilizer. Your vegetables will need fertilizer. You can choose between granular or liquid fertilizers. They both work. Every couple of weeks, feed the plants a liquid fish emulsion fertilizer.

Seeds or seedlings. You can be bold and have the smug satisfaction- to which I can attest, and grow your vegetables from seed. Or you can try growing them from seedlings which you can purchase from a local nursery or garden centre. I started my peas, mesclun mix, and radishes from seed. I bought pumpkin seedlings. I was surprised to find I had purchased white pumpkins, not orange. That brings ghosts to mind.

The other best thing if you grow vegetables in containers is that at the end of the season, you can save the seed and thereby save money, and use the soil you grew the vegetables in and add that to your garden. The soil will contain nutrients from the container grown vegetables. Consider it to be similar to free compost for your gardening soil. Your garden will thank you.

Some vegetables grow upwards and up and up. Tomatoes, peas, cucumbers all grow up and need supports. You can buy tomato cages and trellises or make your own trellis to support vines. They are relatively cheap and available at stores. Read your seed packets carefully to determine prior to planting so you will know how high they grow and what you need to support them with. I found out after planting that my peas grow up to 4 meters-that is 13 feet. I wish I had known. Now I need to purchase a large trellis to support the peas.

Pests. Just because you may keep slugs away you may find other undesirable critters drawn to your plants. While you sleep at night, they will snack on everything you worked so hard to grow. Birds, raccoons, cats, rabbits and deer may eat everything to the root. But there are deterrents available. I wrestled with deciding where to grow my veggies. Finally I decided to go for it and grow the veggies outside. That way, they receive the proper amount of sun, wind and rain. You can use chicken wire, fine netting, alarms, bird feeders to keep them away, fencing, natural pesticides, lights at night time, a dog. If you see that something seemed to have devoured some potatoes and onions, like a racoon, plant and sacrifice some strawberries slightly away from your veggies and they can eat them. Also, watch out for pest insects like carrot fly or aphids. Ladybugs eat aphids. So plant something to keep ladybugs nearby.

May the Goddess bless you with a garden harvest
Blessed Be,
Lady Spiderwitch

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Our Sacred Plants

Merry Meet All,

The moon is waxing. This is a good time to plants herbs and flowers that grow above ground. Waning moon is time to plants herbs, flowers, and vegetables that grow below ground. On Mother’s Day, I gifted my Mother with three veggie seedlings I had grown from seed. I have so many that I can afford to share my bounty. I will have an amazing harvest in the fall.

I have decided that it would be best that I grow my veggies indoors. What, you ask? Well, I have competition for my greens. That competition is raccoons, birds, and squirrels. Raccoons are determined, clever and sly. I could be sound asleep in my bed at night and they would eat all my greens. So I let out a big sigh and resolved myself to growing my veggies indoors. I did not go to this expense to give them a free salad.

My Mother gave me a big deep planter. The sprouts are outgrowing their seed flats. Soon they will be moved to the big planters and set at the same southern facing window. I have no room and not enough sunlight in my garden anyway. The garden is in the northern quarter and gets a lot of shade. My onions will grow in my garden. Nothing touches my chives and garlic chives, because of the strong flavour and scent. At least I won’t have to worry about defending my veggie greens from slugs.

I bought a comfrey seedling at the farmers market this weekend. I am excited about growing comfrey. It is a traditional witch’s herb and has many amazing healing properties. I also hope to grow lovage and holy basil in the garden. Lovage gets big and attracts beneficial insects. It has healing properties too and is good in soups. These herbs are organic, too. Holy Basil is regarded as sacred in India. It is grown near temples and is a sacred symbol in the Hindu religion. I was floored to find organic seeds at the farmers market. Tulsi has many healing benefits and is often enjoyed as a tea.

It is a good nerve tonic and can sharpen memory. This famous sacred herb can heal fevers, coughs, a sore throat, treat kidney stones and heart disorders. For a small herb, it packs some punch. Tulsi is an important herb in Ayurvedic treatments. It is known for its strong aroma and has a stringent taste. It is also known as the “elixir of life.”

I know autumn harvest is a long way off, but with all this potential bounty, I think my enthusiasm is understandable!! Good luck with your gardening and I hope you’re blessed by the God and Goddess.

Blessed Be,
Lady Spiderwitch )O(

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Miracles in March

Merry Meet All,

The Wheel of the Year soon turns again to Ostara. Ostara is the second spring Sabbat. Though it is early in March, if you look closely, you might see some signs of nature emerging outdoors. Watch for robins and buds in the ground or buds on tree branches.

Early March is a good time to start on spring seedlings. You can read my earlier blog posts for more information. I am excited to get started on my seedlings. Decide whether you want to grow herbs or vegetables. Tomatoes are easy to grow and a favourite among gardeners. The choice is yours. Have fun!!

Blessed Be,
Lady Spiderwitch )O(

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