Bated Breath (the Witch’s Garden)

I’ve finally started some of my garden indoors (better late than never), same as last year. This was initially to combat bugs, which chew my tiny babies down to nothing if I start them outside, but I’ve also found it a spectacular way to lengthen my growing season. The year before I tilled under a few dried tomatoes for the heck of it, and they came up super late, yielding little. The ones I started inside, of course gave me an early crop. Awesome for late spring/early summer salads!

Here’s the funny thing, especially since I’ve started collecting seeds from my garden (and other places). I find myself in even more intense scrutiny of my pots. I’ve always had that bubbling excitement that makes me check everyday for any new seedlings, but now I have a certain silly nervous feeling. What if none of the seeds come up? What if they’re all duds? This of course makes me laugh, and makes me even more super elated every time I spot a seedling.

So if you find me with my eye almost pressed to a pot, scrutinizing the dirt, then you know why! ❤

Wishing you a blessed growing season,


Spring Garden Update!

Spring is here!!!

I haven’t posted any updates on my garden in a very long time, but I’ve been busy gardening nevertheless. Since it’s spring/winter I’ve been starting my garden inside. This is the second year and I’d love to share what I learned from last year.


Not everything needs to be started inside: Ok, I’m obviously a novice city gardener, but so is most of the population! Where I live winter is unpredictable, it comes, it goes, it slams us with a foot of snow after a bunch of relatively warm days. The weather has been this way as long as I can remember. So what can be started outside, foot of snow or not?

Peas: Peas love cold weather! You can pop the seeds in the ground early march. They’ll start coming up by themselves and can withstand tons of snow and sporadically cold temps. As long as the temperature gets above the teens during the day they should be fine. I have a total of twelve pea plants sprouting up now!

Arugula: This stuff is tough as nails. I just seed it in the fall after the plants have bolted (gotten all big and gangly with seeds). I pull the dry plants out, break the seed pods and throw them where I’d like them next year. My arugula is already coming up, has been for the past month or so. It has survived super chilly temperatures and snow same as the peas.

Carrots: Carrots seed the second year and they actually need a good icy winter.

  • Plants that are best started inside: I’ve had mixed luck with vegetables. Last year I had lot of success with tomatoes (finally), but only because I caved and bought some already grown tomato plants. My biggest problem has been bugs. I’ve gotten tomatoes to grow, only to have the tender shoots chomped down to nothing in the middle of the night. This year I’ve started some cherry tomatoes inside with huge success. I have six plants, more than I need (nice to give them to other people). Anyways, here’s a small list of plants that I’ve grown inside with success.

Cucumbers: Cucumbers like nice warm soil. Just make sure to give them lots of root space, a whole pot to themselves and they’ll get massive.

Parsley: I actually kept a parsley plant indoors this winter. They’re another plant that seeds the second year, so fingers crossed.

Citronella: This is another keep indoors plant. I’ve kept a clipping growing in water. I won’t plant it outside until I’m sure the weather will stay warm enough.

Tomatoes: These are surprisingly easy to grow in a super sunny windowsill.


  • Challenges

Overwatering: I have to be very careful to be sparing with water. Overwatering can cause mold and fungus, not good…

Rootspace: If you have a deep enough windowsill small indoor pots are awesome for growing. I’ve found those little biodegradable seedstarters are not big enough. If you’re not going to start your garden too soon the seedstarters should be sufficient. They are pretty handy and make transferring the plants a snap. Unfortunately I’ve start my garden earlier than ever this year. Next year I’ll probably just grown most everything in regular indoor pots (my windowsill is deep enough).

Light: I’ve been blessed with a super bright, super sunny windowsill! Not true for all of us. : ( Eight hours of light is best. If not most plants will be weak and tiny. One solution is a grow bulb. I found them at the local hardware mega-chain for around four dollars a bulb. That’s super cheap! You will need a metal lamp. I suggest the thrift store. The biggest thing to keep in mind is that these bulbs get very hot, and everything they shine on gets very hot. Goes without saying, but: don’t leave them on when you’re not home.

Also keep in mind that plants vary in light needs. My citronella for example is in a low light window, has been all winter. It looks fabulous. Herbs also do well enough with less light. Crops of course like a lot more light.



What’s your garden look like?: Love to hear from you guys! There are so many awesome gardening blogs on wordpress. Comments and tips are always welcome, just leave them below. : D


With many blessings,


The Top Five Weeds You Should Keep

Ever since the dawn of modern American gardening and lawn care, weeds of all sorts have become public enemy number 1. God forbid their asymmetries taint our vast fields of flatness and perfectly arranged beds. But suddenly the modern gardener looks up, sees the horizon glowing with the threat of imminent nuclear war, and says ‘why the heck am I using all these herbicides?’

I’m being dramatic of course.

That aside, more and more gardeners now days are coming to the realization that not all ‘weeds’ are created equal. Yes I will continue ruthlessly pull my foxtails, lest they get stuck in every orifice of neighborhood dogs, and my socks. Yes I will yank out those weeds (whatever they’re called) that are destined to grow far above my head, like some heaven searcher. But here is my list of five weeds I won’t pull, and why you might want to consider not pulling them as well.

Clover: SAM_6950This is an easy one, clover often naturally takes root on your lawn, some people hate it for that, wanting only grass and Bentlys parked in the garage. Here’s the thing, clover is hardly noticeable, it’s very short ground cover that gets mowed down with the grass (it’ll get bigger left alone). It comes with pretty white or red flowers. You can even eat these flowers (the red ones can be eaten anywhere, the white ones only in colder climates like Canada). But all that is aside the point. I offer you one word- Bees!!!!! You will never find a clover patch without honeybees, they love this stuff. If you’re a gardener then you know just how important bees are to pollinating your garden, as well as keeping our vast crop industry running. So come on, do your part to save the dying bee population, mow right over that sucker and then go have an ice tea, knowing you just saved the world by doing nothing.


2. Milkweed:asclepias-fascicularis-swallowtail-laura-camp © Laura Camp

You may have already heard the call to bring back this plant. Some states do consider it an invasive weed, mostly because it spreads like all heck. Problem is, this is essentially a butterfly party bush! Monarchs love these things! Bees like them too. They’re a very important source of both pollen and nectar. I suggest treating these like any other flower and simply restricting them to your flower beds. With some vigilance you can keep them from over seeding past your desired area. I only suggest this because milkweed can get quite large and cumbersome. Keep in mind that once the flowers die off it takes a little while for the seed pods to grow in, and one plant should be sufficient for re-seeding. You can pull up most of them after they reach the end of their flowering cycle and throw them away, then trim the pods off of the remaining just before they burst, if you want more control yet over seeding. Just wear your gardening gloves, there’s a good reason these are called ‘milkweed’.

Check out for more information about monarchs and milkweed.

3. Dandelions: SAM_6946Ah those pretty yellow flowers overtaking your grass, resistant to each and every treatment used to eradicate them. Well I say if you can’t beat them, join them. Here’s the thing about dandelions, they’re very useful. Not only do the leaves make very wonderful salad greens, but there’s even a Martha Stewart recipe for dandelion jelly! So go ahead and collect all those sunshine yellow heads, let your inner two year old out, then make some jelly. Do be careful to only harvest from places that are pesticide free and not likely to be peed on by dogs.

4. Morning glories: SAM_6945These are some of my favorite flowers. They open in the morning with beautiful trumpet flowers. How can something so beautiful be a weed? Because they’ll grown damn near anywhere! They can also overwhelm your garden if you’re not careful, but if you’re willing to do just a little extra work you can limit them just like the milkweed. You won’t be disappointed if you do. The best place to grow these vines is next to your fence. If you use them as ground cover they also tend to create a very nice jungle like ecosystem under their thick canopy of leaves. I suggest not planting these too close to crops, because they’ll come up in a carpet early and can overwhelm your other seedlings. If you know what you’re looking at you can weed them out from around your other plants. These flowers by the way can often be acquired in ‘wild flower’ mixes.

5. Purslane:SAM_6937 This is one hardy weed, it grows in rocks and sidewalk cracks, only fitting since it’s a succulent. It’s not very hard in my experience to weed this plant. But why should you grow it? Because it’s edible! This makes a great easy to grow compliment to your other garden plants. It won’t over take anything, because it’s very low growing. It’ll likely stop right where your other plants begin. So consider giving this tasty nutrition packed green a shot!


Any weeds you like to keep in you garden?

All photos except for the featured image (from pexels), and that of the monarch and milkweed, are original and taken by me. So I guess I own them, but do whatever you’d like with them.



The Sweetest Taste: Growing a Garden From Last Years Seeds

Spring is here! Unless you live on the east coast of course, looks like dead of winter there.

Either way it’s a good time to get the garden started.

Some of the garden is even starting itself, which is what so delighted me. I had the sweetest taste of last years seeds. I had been looking closely at some of my outdoor plants, when I realized that a whole bunch of little leafy greens were popping up in my bed. I plucked one, smelled it, and sure enough, arugula! I had left a plant or two to seed the ground last year, and now without lifting a finger I already have a small crop of arugula. Time for salad!

This is what I am striving for, a garden that comes back mostly on its own, or at least with hardly a cent spent on my part. So here is a list of plants that I’ve found to be good for starters.


Arugula: I listed this above already, but really, it’s like a weed. I also harvested some of the seeds from last year as well. They say the leaves are tastiest when picked smaller, so I plan on harvesting them frequently through the summer, but once again letting a few seed.


Strawberries: My strawberries never die, even in the cold snowy months. I only ever came close to killing them when I didn’t water them enough. I plan to try to separate them this year and plant some in a bigger open area (they’re in a pot).


Mint: This one looks dead when the winter strikes, but last year it came back wonderfully. Bugs were my only problem.


Sage and Rosemary: These ‘died’ over the winter, but I’m pretty sure they’ll be back very soon, much like the mint.


Tulips and other bulbs: I know you can’t eat these (well you can eat tulip bulbs, not sure how tasty they are), but they make your garden beautiful, and I really can’t suggest a better type of flower for a just-starting-out gardener. Bulbs are so easy, and so hard to kill! I planted amazing red tulips last year, they were promptly torn up by the neighborhood kids. This spring they’re sprouting strong and green!


Starting your garden early: I’ve started my garden on my windowsill. The weather is pretty nice outside, but it could get cold again at any time. I also want to let some of my plants get bigger and stronger, because last year I had so many problems with insects. So far I’ve successfully sprouted, zucchini, Asian string beans, arugula and parsley. I’m using a little ‘greenhouse’ which fits on my windowsill, then replanting the bigger plants into small pots which also fit there. This is a good reason to keep those little pots that your pregrown plants come in! I would also suggest you use brand new dirt, just so you don’t bring in all the bug eggs.

I’m going to start flowers soon as well. I have some marigold seeds that I harvested last year, also some pretty purple flowers I picked off of a neighbors plant ; )


How’s your garden going?

The Witch’s garden: The garden that keeps growing, and growing…

A lot of people go out and buy new plants every year. This is something I want to avoid. Not only does it take extra money, but also extra time (two things I’m not exactly rolling in). So for the last few years I’ve been trying to create a low maintenance, but useful and enjoyable garden. After some experiments (and dead plants), I’ve had some success. This is still a work in progress, but here’s what I have so far..


Mint: This grows like a weed and comes back even after the winter. It even managed to survive being mostly eaten by something that obviously grew wings and flew off (to terrorize various other villages presumably). Even better, this plant does nicely in the shady nooks I have!


Strawberries: These do extremely well. Mine haven’t borne much fruit yet, but I suspect they lack sufficient pollination, so next year I will try pollinating them myself.


Arugula/rocket: This one took me by complete surprise. Thought I’d try it, since Arugula has such a nice flavor, but the plants went to seed quickly, very quickly. I realized then that this is one of the tricks to having a garden that costs little money, re-seeding. See most people who plant Arugula promptly harvest the leaves for salad. If you’re patient and grow one crop (or even half a crop, even one plant) for seeds, you won’t ever have to buy Arugula again. I will try planting some of the seeds I’ve harvested next year, but I’ll also let the plants die and drop the remaining seeds, and see what comes up by itself.


Baby Broccoli: Haven’t a clue about this stuff, just came across it in my local garden shop, saw it liked sun and had a good spot for it. Like the Arugula it has gone to seed wonderfully! Will try planting this again next year.


Greek Oregano: This has done well too, very hardy. It’s flowering now, so fingers crossed it will seed as well. Will see how it weathers the winter.


Plum tree: This is my little bit of luck, got this for cheap at a discount store (got a peach as well, but that was ravaged to death by the local kids). It has done so well! Every year I get some fruit (not a lot yet, since it’s still a baby, but enough to be satisfying), with minimal work. I know I’ve had the best of luck though, as evidenced by Tilly’s post on their plum trees here. I might have to cover it one of these years when the frost hits early.


Morning glories: File this under the inedible list, and in fact I didn’t even plant these, the former tenant did, and they just keep coming back, and coming back. Even though they’re taking over my garden (gotta watch them, they try to choke the other plants too, have to unwind them and give them something else to climb), there are benefits. For one thing they’re beautiful, and hardy, and better yet, they’re extra variety to attract the bees.You can read more about supporting the bee population here. Although the bees seem more interested in the clover that’s dotting the communal grass area…

Irises: If you’re looking a low maintenance pop of color in your beds, this is perfect! I personally love irises, they’re just so gorgeous and come in so many different surprising colors. The only word of warning on this one is that the roots tend to over crowd, so it’s good to dig them up ever two or three years and either give away, or discard the extra roots.


This year I’m experimenting with-


Radishes: This is from fridge to garden food, bought a bag for ninety nine cents, a few started sprouting before I could eat them, so I popped them in the ground. I’ll let them seed and see what we can do next year.

Parsley: This looks like a good indoor herb. Nice and simple.


And a few plants that haven’t come up yet…

So we’ll see how it all turns up!

What are your experiences with planting in limited space, with a limited budget?




The Witch’s Herb Garden: Drying Herbs

The Witch’s Herb Garden: Drying Fresh Herbs

I’ve always wondered about drying herbs (or any plant for that matter), I mean how useful would that be! But it all seemed so…mysterious? Difficult?
I had already started an herb garden, just a small one, a little of this, a little of that (everyone loves mint right). All those nice herbs were just going to seed until I decided to give drying them a try. Here’s what I learned along the way.

What do I need to get started?: Very little. Of course you need the herb you would like to use (doesn’t really matter where you got it, maybe you asked a neighbor nicely…). Maybe a little something fresh to throw in your cooking, maybe a little something to use in a spell, your choice.
I use sowing thread to hang my herbs, you can buy a pack of it for super cheap at the local massive chain store of your choice. A little piece of cloth is also useful, just to wrap around the herbs to keep off dust, but this is optional really.
The last thing is something to store them in. You can use any glass jar or plastic container you’d like, just make sure it’s clean, dry and sealed. If you want to do powered herbs you can pick up a neat set of glass vials from the craft store for about ten dollars. I love these, they work so perfectly! The bonus is if you get the right set you can just keep them all tidy in the package.

Let’s get drying!: I suggest starting small, do a little test batch if you can, three or four leaves/sprigs of your chosen plant. I just recently dried some oregano for spaghetti, it came out splendid!
It’s usually suggested to harvest to leaves early in the morning after the dew has dried up, simply for fuller flavor, but if you’re drying something strong like sage or oregano this isn’t all that necessary. Try both ways if you like, or just one, maybe you’re not an early riser.
Pick the best leaves (but not all, unless you want to kill the plant), wash them, dry them a little. Shaking them dry should be sufficient but patting with a paper towel never hurts either.
Take them by the stem and tie them together. I like to double my thread over then tie the end to the stem so that you have a neat hanging loop all ready to go.
Here’s the hardest part, find somewhere to hang them!
For years I was under some strange impression that herbs were supposed to be hung in the sun, not true. The best place is somewhere shady and dry, the least humidity the better. Otherwise you might end up with a moldy rotten mess.
There are all kinds of clever ways you can hang them. One of my favorites is the idea of a simple board with hooks, maybe some cute words painted on it, but no need to get fancy (unless you want to). Just hang them anywhere you could hang anything else.
Now it’s time to wait. It won’t take any longer than a week. The thinner the herb the faster the dry. If in doubt, check them every few days.
Once they are dry it’s all up to you what you want to do with them, the world is your oyster! I like to crush mine to powder and store them for use in cooking, and maybe an odd spell here and there (the more time and care you put into a spell the better).

Have an herb garden? What are your favorite herbs to grow? How do you use them?

Blessed be!