gardening in small spaces

The Domestic Garden Witch: Po-Ta-Toes

So maybe you’re a college witch with limited space and money, limited to the one window in your dorm. Or, maybe you’re a witch without extensive backyard space who wants to start up a magical garden. Perhaps you’re a kitchen witch who wants the freshest herbs right at her fingertips.

For many witches, having a garden seems to be a bit of a no-brainer. After all, plants and magic go hand-in-hand. Plus, when thinking of a witch, it’s hard not to think of a cottage in the woods with a little vegetable garden out front. Unfortunately for the majority of us, our cottage in the woods is a tiny flat, and our garden out front is a windowsill with limited space.

This is when it comes time to embrace your craftiness and bring your garden indoors! Not only does it place your garden in a convenient location, it also allows you to freshen the air, recycle what would otherwise harm the earth, and embrace your witchy green thumb!

Samwise Gamgee’s Dream Come True!

Originally posted by straightcray

Okay, so if you follow my blog, chances are that you’re wondering if this whole potato theme for today is because of St. Patrick’s. I promise, I’m not enforcing Irish stereotypes on purpose. I just really like potatoes, and when it comes to gardening, it’s a bit of a disservice to overlook this vegetable. After all, when we think about kitchen gardens or home gardens, we think of herbs or flowers, and not about the veggies we eat that live a rather subterranean existence. But potatoes - those lovely little brown lumps that we can get for a couple dollars per five pound bag in the supermarket - are not only inexpensive. They’re extremely hardy little plants that can be grown rather easily.

You don’t need much to get started with this project. First, you need “seed potatoes.” This is not hard to find. Simply take a few potatoes and allow them to grow a bit. They will sprout a few short little stalks from the eyes on the surface. Save these, and get potting mix and two medium to large plastic pots that can easily stack one inside the other.

Carefully cut a few panes out of the inner pot as in the picture above, then place the inner pot into the outer one. Fill the pot part way with soil, add your seed potatoes, and cover them with potting mix. Water as needed until the potato plants peek up out of the soil. Cover them again and repeat this process gradually until the pot is full.

In roughly three months, you’ll have potato plants that are ready to begin harvesting. Simply lift the inner pot up and pluck your potatoes as needed from the sides! Fresh potatoes, free!

Ideally, this method of potato cultivation can help feed a family of four for about a year. My family had used this method, and our family of five was able to stay fed for a year off of two of these planters (we like potatoes… and we eat them a lot…)

Originally posted by relatable-anime-moments

How Can I Witch This?

Potatoes are very useful in witchcraft, and you can find out some of their magickal uses in my Foodie Friday article about Seafood Gnocchi. As for growing them, many of those properties remain the same!

As with any gardening venture, add crystals to the soil to promote healthy and fruitful plants, draw sigils and symbols on the pottery or planters, and incorporate protection or fertility ingredients into the soil - such as eggshell or coffee grounds.

Outside of the useful culinary benefits of having a potato planter on your front porch, a garden such as this is useful for outdoor space cleansing in small spaces, and for inviting prosperity into your home or property since potatoes represent such comforts as full bellies and pockets.

Since a small number of potatoes can be used to produce a much larger quantity in this planting method, you could even turn them into a prosperity or slow growth money spell! Pour your intent into the seed potatoes when you plant them, and as they produce new crops, give them water and food as an offering in order to keep the spell fed! Some of the potatoes produced in this way can also be converted into offerings or used in spellwork, in addition to being used to cook with!

The possibilities are practically endless where potatoes are concerned! See what you can do with these nifty little spuds!

And may your harvests always be bountiful!

Blessed Be! )O(

Types of Witches & Witchcraft

What is a Witch? A witch can never be truly defined. It is a broad term used to describe a variety of people each of which follow their own paths with no two truly alike. 


Types of Witches

Kitchen Witch: (Cottage witch, Hearth witch) Works mainly within the home. Cares for the house and the family inside it. Prepares the meals and adds there own special magick to it. Provides the home with protection and keeps the house clean. 

Green Witch: Works with nature. Includes working with plants, nature deities, herbal remedies, earth, crystals, and faeries. Incorporates nature deities in their craft such as Pan, Demeter, Epona, Gaia etc.  

Eclectic Witch: Creates their own practice based on information and traditions borrowed from different practices and religions in. In order to create a path that works best for them. (Make sure you are not stealing from closed religions!)

Elemental Witch: A witch that works with the elements (water, earth, fire, air) in their day to day practices.   

Hereditary Witch: A witch that is born into a family of practitioners. They create and continue their families rituals and ceremonies. They commonly have a family grimoire or book of shadows that they pass down through generations. 

Sea Witch: A witch that uses the sea and its materials in their practice. Gets their power from the seas energy. Incorporates shells, salt, saltwater, driftwood, etc into their practices. Works with deities such as Poseidon, Njörðr, Neptune, etc. 

Solitary Witch: A witch who prefers to practice on their own.     

Faerie Witch: Someone who works in peace and harmony with the Fae. They take great care of their garden, place offerings out for the Faerie, and make them feel welcome and at peace.

Cosmic Witch: One who works with the stars, moon, sun, etc.  

Urban Witch: A witch that lives in the city and uses the objects they find for their practice. They come up with creative ways to garden on there small patio and store things in the little space they have. 

Pop Culture Witch: A witch who incorporates characters and ideas from movies, TV shows, and books into their practice. 

Science Witch:  Science witches are basically witches who incorporate the scientific method and ideology into their craft. In my experience no science witch is alike since each individual has their specific idea of how the relationship between science and magic works. A large part of being a science witch seems to be the belief in the placebo effect in relationship between the spellcaster and the spell. Science witchcraft is kind of a blurred line between the laws of science and the known universe and the realm of magic and the laws we can’t see. We believe in the possibility of a crossover between the two and embrace it and use it to our advantage in our craft. Taking into consideration the effect science has on the magic we are using and sometimes crediting the spell result partially to magic and partially to science - sometimes even considering the same thing. -This definition is from @drinkthemoonlight, Very appreciated, Thank you so much! - 

Druidism: A Celtic, nature based religion that works with Mother Earth. 

Wiccan: A  religion that follows it’s own set of rules and guidelines.  Such as the three fold law and “hurt none and do what ye will.”

Pagan: A religion that works closely with nature and it’s deities.


This list barely covers the different types of witches but it is all I can think of for the moment. I will be updating soon. 

May the moon light your path!

==Moonlight Academy==

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PLANT HOME

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21. Apr. 17 // #Aprilstudychallenge
Day 21. Favorite place to study
The city of Bologna is itself a uni campus, most of the historical buildings house the many faculties.
Political science’s main building is Palazzo Hercolani, and there’s this cute and peaceful garden you can go to for your study sessions or even lunch breaks (pic 1).
I also attend some classes in a different building (pic 2), the complex is called St. Cristina because it is built around a deconsecrated church, it hosts a library and some study rooms, but right now the best feature is (again) the garden next to it 🌳

4

May 1, 2017

Behold my deck garden in all its panoramic glory!

I shuffled everything around yesterday into the configuration it will more or less keep all summer. Things with higher water needs (peas, greens, eventual tomato/zucchini buckets) are along the railing where rain falls unimpeded. Things with lower water needs (herbs) or which can tolerate a bit of drought (wildflowers) or which like the extra warmth provided by the wall OR which just fit nicely there are along the house wall.

The side-by-side compares of the herb planter and the dwarf blackberry are April 11/April 30. These guys all seem to be steaming along happily!

The little plant stand keeps the wildflower boxes out from underfoot, and gives them all equal sun exposure.

I’m so glad it’s May! Soon it’ll be time for tomatoes, zucchini, and carrots!

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May 26, 2017

Top-down, left to right:

1. Peas! They’re about eye-level now (cheating because the soil’s about knee height)((also I’m 5'2")) and should be developing flowers soon!

2. I planted these a couple weeks ago, golden beets along the edges (husbo loves beets, apparently) and rainbow carrots down the centre. The germination rate is good, helped by a burst of warm weather. Beets come up thickly because the seeds are actually clusters, and carrot seeds are too tiny to space out evenly. I’ll have to thin these out in a week or so.

3. Herbs! I still haven’t planted a basil like I intended, and now I think I may just abstain and let the thyme and sage have the extra space.

4. Nasturtiums (left) and poppies (right) are starting to show tiny buds tucked among the masses of leaves

5 & 6. Strawberry and blackberry flowers, respectively. I can’t wait for delicious berries!

How I Got into Backyard Farming

Idea:

Backyard Farming sounds crazy, so let’s try it  

What is it?

There is a movement where regular people are turning their backyards into micro farms and doing things like:

  • Growing all the salad ingredients they need for a year (minus the Russian dressing)
  • Growing 100 pounds of potatoes on a tiny patio
  • Raising a couple of chickens for meat and/or eggs
  • Raising Talapia fish to eat
  • Raising rabbits or quail for meat
  • Converting lawns into mini farms producing staple crops like corn and wheat
  • Using things like fences, walls, posts and garages to trellis things like grapes, squash, beans, and melons
  • Growing 100 pounds of garlic and selling it for $10 a pound at farmers markets
  • Raising bees and selling honey for $7 a pound at farmers markets
  • Making your own Beer, Wine, Meade, Cider or Brandy

Why this could be Awesome:

The goal here is that you do these things on your property without anyone really noticing or caring.  The goal is not to start up some “you might be a redneck if” style crazy farm on the lawn and instantly tank the neighborhood housing prices in the process.  With this project the goal is to be clandestine, or at least unnoticeable.  Do it right and neighbors will compliment how well your property looks as you bring them goodies from the garden all year long.  Other reasons this scheme could be awesome:

  • Lower your grocery bills
  • Be totally organic and chemical free
  • Potentially earn income
  • Less lawn mowing / Less using anything that runs on gas
  • Could be Fun

My Situation:

I live in a typical Cape Cod house on a quiet street in a medium sized city in Ohio.  I have neighbors very close on both sides and in the back.  In total I have about 0.3 acres of “land” which consists of a small front yard and a descent sized backyard enclosed in a chain link fence.  I have a tiny 1-car garage, a small patio, and normal guy yard tools.

Research Phase:

I went to the library and to the internet and looked up the following topics:

  • Small space / patio / container gardening
  • Permaculture / food forests / Organic Gardening
  • Homesteading /  Survivalist / Prepper (I’m not a prepper)
  • Aquaponics

Take a look at some YouTube videos on people who have backyard food forests.  Also Jeff Lawton’s videos on this topic are amazing.  I also recommend the book Gaia’s Garden and the website Permies.com

Let’s Do This:

And so when Spring rolled around I began…  The plan was to start small and incorporate little things at a time into my landscape, wait until I was used to them and make sure no one freaked out, and then slowly expand. 

Things I have Accomplished:

I’m on year three now and I think things are going relatively well.  Here’s a summary of things I have been able to do.   Note: Each topic below will have its own full post soon.

  • Toxin Free:  Gave up insecticide, commercial fertilizer and other toxins totally.
  • Compost: Created a composting system that produces about 1 pickup truck load of compost per year.
  • Waste Reduction: Generate zero yard waste.  Generate 1-2 bags of garbage per week, which is a reduction from 5 bags.  This reduction is due to composting, canning, burning paper with wood fires and using ashes in garden, reduction of processed foods purchased, etc.
  • Rainwater harvesting:  Made and Installed 2 Rain Barrels (55 gallons each), with a system to auto water the front yard with the flip of a switch using garden hose and gravity
  • Lawn Reduction:  More than half of my front yard is garden (but doesn’t look out of the ordinary at all).  Converted 1/3rd of my backyard to garden
  • Hugelkultur:  Installed about 56 feet of Hugelkultur mounds
  • Heavy Mulching: Threw down 2 dump truck loads of mulch, 3 pickup load of hay (about 40 bales) and 1 pickup load manure. 
  • Sheet Mulching: Experimented with Sheet mulching using cardboard and other materials to convert lawn to garden without digging.
  • Less Weeds: Cut weeding time down by using mulching techniques as well as chop & drop methods.  (you still get weeds, but less, and easier to pull)
  • No Dig / No till: Gave up Tilling totally.  There are many good reasons to do this. 
  • Less Mowing:  Mow only about 4-6 times a year (due to letting certain “weeds” grow into the lawn such as clover which doesn’t grow very tall).  Also, I mow the front lawn every other time with a gas free reel push mower, which saves gas and is very quiet (and a good workout).
  • Less Watering:  Cut watering in half (because of the rain barrels, a well-placed swale to slow down run-off and Hugelkultur mounds which soak up water like crazy)
  • Perennial Food:  Planted long-term plants such as 2 apple trees, 1 cherry tree, 2 blueberry bushes, 2 raspberry and 2 blackberry bushes, 10 square feet of strawberries, 2 grapevines, 8 asparagus plants.
  • Quasi Perennial Food:  Tomato patch comes back 80% every year from self seeding.  Also get a lot of self seeded greens and squash, by not picking everything.
  • Seed Starting:  Beginning to perfect a seed starting regimen that is actually starting to pay off.  Seed starting takes practice!
  • Big Crops:  Set to plant about 50 garlic plants this year.  Set to plant about 30 potato plants this year (these two plants both can be mixed into the front yard landscape).  Planted about 60 mustard green plants (also a beautiful plant)
  • Medicine:  Growing comfrey to be used for medicinal purposes as well as green manure / mulch.
  • Cool mini-Projects:  Things I have made from my backyard include Grape Juice, Vinegar, Tomato juice, Dijon Mustard, Tomato sauce, Roasted Dandelion Root coffee, Echinacea tincture, garlic braids, burn medicine, flower arrangements, and lots of delicious meals.

Things I want to Try:

There are so many things in backyard farming/ urban permaculture I still want to try. Here is my to-do list:

  • Plant way more fruit trees.  The ultimate goal of the permaculture “food forest” is basically to have tons of food growing everywhere on your property that requires little to no maintenance.  The hardest part should be picking all of the bounty.  Of course a key to this end state is to have lots of mature fruit trees that produce large quantities of high calorie foods year after year.  And even in cold Ohio, we can grow so many different kinds of fruit like cherry, apple, peach, plum, apricot and lots of berry and nut trees
  • Plant a successful cash crop.  I want to sell something at the farmers market!  I think garlic will be my first attempt because it is 100% maintenance free and 99% guaranteed to come up beautiful.  It also sells for a lot of money.  So far I have been eating mine, but each year I plant more and more.  One other nice thing is that you can space them really close together and plant them almost anywhere on the property, including right out in the front yard.  I tried to sell my mustard greens but nobody wanted them :(
  • Get bees.  Although probably not for everyone, I want bees.  There is some cost and some work involved, but you get honey, wax and increased pollination, and that is more than enough for me to want to try it.
  • Meat?  I’m not allowed to have chickens or any animal like that in my city.  Rabbits could work since they are silent and you could raise them somewhere covert and no one would know you had them.  But I don’t think I could kill and clean rabbits I raised.  I looked into pheasant and quail but same thing there.
  • Eggs? I’m not yet to the point where I’m going to defy my local laws and get a couple of chickens for egg productions, but If you are, there is a whole community on the net of covert chicken raisers.  The more hip urban cities such as St. Louis have legalized it, so do some research and go for it.  Don’t get any roosters unless you want to anger everyone within a 5 mile radius.
  • More Mulch!  Once you get into this hobby you quickly find that your soil sucks.  If you have a typical American house your soil is terrible because for the last 50 years your property has consisted of 90% grass which some guy mowed short twice a week and probably dumped mass quantities of weed and feed and other chemicals onto it.  All of the clippings were bagged and sent to the landfill and heavy rains continuously washed away any soil that happened to build up.  The fix is to throw down tons and tons of organic material like leaves, cut up weeds, hay, mulch, coffee grounds, manure, compost, etc.  But if you are a regular person with an office job you probably don’t have access to as much of this organic mulch as you need.  I’m always on the lookout on Craigslist for free manure and mulch, but it can be hard to come by.  You can grow your own, but this takes time.
  • Flowers  I got so caught up with food that I realized I didn’t plant many beautiful flowers that can serve multiple purposes.  I want them for cut flower arrangements as well as for medicinal purposes and sheer beauty.  Next year there will be flowers!
  • Edible Seeds:  I also want to get some edible seeds such as sunflower and pumpkin, yum!  Per square foot, sunflowers are one of the most productive foods you can grow, calorie wise.
5

April 26, 2017

The weather remains wet. Wet wet wet. The temps have risen, at least - Easter Sunday it was a lovely 20C in the afternoon. This return to seasonal temperature norms has kickstarted growth on several things.

First, the peas - at about 8" high these sprouts have just about doubled in height over the course of a week!

The wildflower and poppy planters are thickening up and setting out true leaves. The wildflower boxes (rectangles) are never evenly sown, because I just sprinkle the seed mix over the top of the soil willy-nilly. I like the rambling look. Constraining wildflowers to tidy rows would dampen much of their charm, to my mind.

The centre photo is one of the marigolds we planted at Sparks at the beginning of March. Some of the girls missed the meeting, so I was left with a few to take home myself. This one is the closest to blooming, but the interesting thing here is the dark purplish colour of the lower leaves. Normally green leaves turning purple are a sign of a phosphorus deficiency. This can be caused by a simple lack of phosphorus in the soil, or some environmental factor interfering with the plant’s ability to take up or use the nutrient. In this case it’s probably both - low temperatures can cause this problem for marigolds, and they were just planted in a basic sterile potting soil. I’ve amended the soil with a bit of slow-release fertilizer and the temperature is improving so with a bit of luck they’ll rebound. I just used some bog-standard Miracle Grow, because I’m not babying these guys.

Last but not least, my reseeded mesclun and chard are slowly establishing themselves. I leave this planter uncovered most of the time now, but I do keep my sheets of acrylic close to hand in case of violent downpours. If you look closely at the chard (left) you can see the various stem colours characteristic of the rainbow variety. Unlike with the sad marigolds, the purplish colouration on the tiny lettuce (right) is not a sign of a problem. This type just grows like that!