January 22, 2023

Start Your Witchy Herb Garden

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Wanting to learn more about herbs, but now sure where to start? Even a simple Google search can quickly become overwhelming. So, how does one even begin to learn about herbs? If you’re looking to dip your toes in without signing up for a master herbalism course, I have some recommendations.
I, too, felt the overwhelm in my quest to learn about our herbal allies, so I decided starting small was the way to go. And, I decided, what easier way is there than in my very own kitchen?

If you are anything like me, you have a basic spice rack and at least one type of herbal tea in your home. If you don’t, there’s still no need to fret. Most common herbs can be found at your local market for just a few dollars. Start with one you like! Peppermint, chamomile, cinnamon, and lavender are all common, easy to find, and a wonderful place to start!
I began my herbal journey with chamomile. I have always loved chamomile tea- the gentle fragrance, the sweet taste, the way I seem to lose just enough tension from my shoulders and jaw when I sip it. I realized the magic in it, though, when I met my first live, chamomile plant.

It had a mossy tenderness to it that I’d not expected- so dainty and soft, like touching little whisps of cool, feathery, freshness. It looked, felt, and smelled exactly like it tasted- gentle, sweet, and soothing. A fresh, bright green that was both vibrant and unassuming. Its energy was just as its dried form represented, yet so much more depth- more… Alive. Dried chamomile made me happy, but live chamomile was happiness, itself.
After getting to know one herb, I couldn’t wait to meet more. I set off to the garden center one beautiful, spring day with the intention of getting to know a new herbal friend- lavender, hands down my favorite natural scent. With much excitement, I grabbed a plant to add to my budding herb “collection”. I brought it home and sat it next to my pot of chamomile on my Florida full sun patio. This one felt more stand-offish than the other, but I ignored the feeling and carried on as I had before. Chamomile and lavender. What a great start! I was going to be a magical green witch in no time!

To be honest, I don’t really know what I was thinking was going to happen. Clearly, the purchase of a plant will not imbue one with superpowers. I got swept up in the idea of becoming an herbal master (with two herbs!) that I failed to actually establish a relationship with the plant whose care I had assumed responsibility. Turns out, most plants can’t survive in the hot Florida sun without proper attention. At first, my inaugural herbs failed to thrive. Then, they just died.

Clearly, just willing plants to survive without understanding their requirements to do so will usually end in failure. Turns out, a little shade cloth would have gone a long way for those particular herbs in my area. Instead of giving up learning about and growing herbs, I shifted my focus to what would grow in my zone, and what specific conditions each would need to thrive.

While not necessarily plants I’d brew in tea, I had great luck with Cuban oregano, garlic chives, sage, bunching onions, nasturtiums, and tomatoes. They each had unique energies, but all possessed a beautiful, summery personality. If they were children, they’d be running through the sprinkler on a hot, sunny afternoon.
As with all things, working with herbal allies comes with a learning curve. Once you establish one element of care, more will present themselves to learn about, and often include external components. The concept of fertilizer, for instance, opens the door to composting. Pruning and harvesting leads to understanding seasons-and even moon phases. Planting a garden means learning about soil types, nutrient needs, building materials, planting zones, and so much more. Herbalism is a whole world unto itself, so starting small and branching out as you feel ready is preferable. Just bear in mind that you will have plant casualties along the way. With any luck, the more you learn, the more success you will have.

*As you acquire live plants, be sure to jot down if they are annuals, biennials or perennials! Annuals will only live for one season, regardless of how much care you put into them! *
My introduction to live chamomile was all it took to get me hooked on learning more about herbal allies. I started out with fondness from afar that is blooming into beautiful friendships, and my life is richer for it.
And I’ve only just begun to scratch the surface.

 

Kalinah is a Spiritual Life Coach, Reiki Master/Teacher, Ordained Minister, and founder of River Grove Wellness. She’s our new regular contributor here at Wildsom of the Wildwood.

Her website is www.RiverGroveWellness.com
Insta @RiverGroveWellness
Twitch www.twitch.tv/KalinahRGW

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3 Comments

  1. Patricia Ann Williams

    I am just starting a herb garden in my cloakroom, I have lots of shelving in there as its a good size, also a very large window that lets in lots of natural light and can be opened for ventilation when it gets warm.

    Reply
    • Katherine Genet

      That sounds perfect. It’s going to become a fragrant little jungle!

      Reply

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