Although my feet
Have never walked
Upon ancestral lands
And I’ve never heard
The winds sing a song
Across the Motherland
Though I have never
Laid my own hands
Upon a standing stone
I will sing the old song
I will honour the old gods
I will learn the old ways
And make them new again
For a man or woman
Who is without roots
Finds it all too easy
To cut down another’s tree
And so I will connect
With this New World
I will love,
I will learn
If you are on a budget, dollar stores and liquidation stores are great places to go looking first. Especially for that perfect container to grow your garden in. Don’t be afraid to get crafty and buy some paint to spruce up a less than perfect container. I have seen basic gardening tool sets for cheap at dollar stores and the like, even seeds and watering cans. Potting soil, plants, pots and everything you need can be bought at any home and/or garden store, department stores and even grocery stores. Don’t be afraid to shop around and do a little price comparing.
I would like to mention the importance of shopping locally. It may be less expensive and more convenient to shop at the big chain stores, but it’s better to patron a smaller locally owned garden shop. Often the smaller guys are quite happy to let you know when a big sale is going to start, or when the next shipment is coming in. They are more likely to have good plant knowledge, better than a high school student working the garden section of Wal-Mart. Many smaller shops give loyal customer discounts and are going to make sure you find what you want and know how to take care of any plant you bought. This wonderful service can make all the difference in the world.
Finding the right container
Get creative looking for a container, you may even find something tucked away in the closet or garage. Containers are available in many sizes, shapes, and materials. The first thing you need to think about is the amount of space, and what kind of space you have. Is there room for a good-sized container or just a window box? The container’s size is also determined by the plant or plants selected. Shallow-rooted crops like flowers, lettuce, peppers, radishes, herbs and most annuals need a container at least 6 inches in diameter with an 8-inch soil depth.
Avoid containers with narrow openings; give your plants room to grow.
Wooden containers are susceptible to rot. Redwood and cedar are relatively rot resistant and can be used without staining or painting. Avoid wood treated with creosote, penta or other toxic compounds since the vapors can damage the plants. One advantage of wooden containers is that they can be built to sizes and shapes that suit the location. Wood containers fare well in colder weather and also provide more insulation than do terra cotta pots.
Cheap plastic pots may deteriorate in UV sunlight and terracotta pots dry out rapidly. Glazed ceramic pots are excellent choices but require several drainage holes. If you choose clay pots, remember that clay is porous and water is lost from the sides of the container. Plants in clay pots should be monitored closely for loss of moisture. Your plants roots need to breathe, so they like terra cotta pots, which also hold warmth. However, if your cats, dogs or children romp through your house or if you live in a cold climate where soil may freeze and expand, your terra cotta containers may not last. Stone containers add a natural effect to your house or garden, but are often difficult to move. They also can break fairly easily. Don’t forget those eclectic containers like wire baskets, old-fashioned metal bathtubs and rickety wheelbarrows. They make great plant holders, too. In hot climates use light-colored containers to lessen heat absorption and discourage uneven root growth.
Window boxes are usually made of wood or plastic and are particularly attractive if you live in a high-rise apartment with lots of windows.
Hanging baskets, often made of wood or wire, spotlight your herbs or flowers. You should be careful that your indoor hanging pots don’t drizzle onto your lovely oak dining table, however. They should hold plants that won’t grow too heavy for the stand. Line hanging baskets with sphagnum moss for water retention. Keep baskets away from afternoon sun.
Wrought iron or other unusual stands can add appeal to your home or balcony, while also minimizing wood rot and insect havens. If you like wooden troughs or baskets, make sure that your wood is of a solid quality. You’ll want to also finish the wood with a plant-proof preserver. If you use barrels, make sure that the hoops are secure.
And no matter what type of containers you purchase, you’ll need some fail-proof saucers to capture that loose soil and dripping water that escapes from the bottom of any container. Although plastic saucers may not match your glazed pots, they don’t get damp as do terra cotta ones. Plates and even ice cream pail lids work well.
All containers, whether they are of clay, wood, plastic, or ceramic, should have an adequate number of holes in the bottom for proper drainage. Additional holes should be drilled or punched in containers that do not drain quickly after each watering. Holes should be roughly 1/2 inch across. Placing a screen or some newspaper at the bottom of a container will prevent soil from draining out with the water. Setting the container on a solid surface, such as a cement or patio floor, reduces drainage. Raising the container one or two inches off the floor by setting it on blocks of wood will solve this problem.
Also, multiple pots can be placed in one larger container, the larger container not requiring drainage holes and able to catch the drippings from the smaller pots within.
Tools of the trade
Regardless of the size and choice of your container garden, you’ll need durable tools, ranging from, but not limited to; a watering can, a wrist-easy hand rake, a small trowel, and by-pass pruners. You can find all sorts of odd garden implements around the house, kitchen scissors, screwdrivers; even a wooden spoon may find their way into your mini garden.
Growing media, also known as soil
Make sure your planting medium drains rapidly but retains enough moisture to keep the roots evenly moist. Your compost will make an excellent potting soil. Check the requirements of the plants you grow to determine whether you will need to add sand or clay. If compost is not available, purchase a good quality potting mixture or make your own from equal parts of sand, loamy garden soil, and peat moss. Commercial potting mixes are usually slightly acidic, so you may want to add a little lime.
Most container gardeners have found that a "soil-less" potting mix works best. In addition to draining quickly, "soil-less" mixes are lightweight and free from soil- borne diseases and weed seeds. These mixes can be purchased from garden centers.
When you add your soil to your container, leave a 2-inch space between the top of the soil and the top of the container. You will be able to add 1/2 inch or so of mulch later.
Mulch is a layer of plant matter placed around your plants on the top of the soil to protect it. This is especially used in winter to prevent freezing. Moss, leaf litter, clippings from evergreen shrubs, grass clippings, and wood chips all make good mulch.
Some plants that grow easily in a container
I couldn’t possibly list every possible plant you could grow in a container, nor how to grow them. So I will only list nine that are considered to be relatively easily grown in containers. I recommend talking to the nice folks who work at the garden store and doing a little research to choose the plants you want. How easy to a particular plant may grow for you can depend on what kind of climate you live in and such.
Small and slow-growing herbs look best in containers. Some examples are sage, parsley, oregano, rosemary, marjoram, basil, thyme, chives, and savory. Window boxes, strawberry jars, and large pots can accommodate a combination of several herbs and flowers.
I recommend starting with small plants bought from the store rather than trying to grow from seed, unless you have the time and interest to do so. Growing from cuttings can also be very successful and worth looking into.
Ivy: Can be used indoors as a decorative plant or topiary, or can be planted outdoors for ground cover. Ivy will climb on walls, fences and trellises. It can be trained to crawl in patterns or climb on wire frames for topiary. Ivy is exceptionally hardy and hard to kill. Ivy prefers bright light or filtered sun. They also like cooler temperatures and high humidity. In the summer you can move your ivy outside to a shady location. They will enjoy the summer’s humidity and fortify themselves for another inside season. Ivy was in high esteem among the ancients. Of old, women carried ivy to aid fertility and general good luck. They also carried it to ensure fidelity and from this came the custom of brides carrying ivy. Ivy wherever it is grown or proliferates, guards against negativity and disaster. Wands entwined with ivy were used in the worship of Bacchus, and are used in nature and fertility rites. Ritually and magically the ivy is paired with the holly tree and the vine.
Juniper: One of the best shrubs to grow in containers, junipers are usually recommended as a good beginner’s bonsai tree. They like full to partial sun and well-drained soil. There are many varieties of juniper that can be bought in one or four gallon pots and grown quite easily. Even in a container they do prefer to grow outdoors. For most magickal purposes, the berries (actually they are berry-like cones) are the typical part of the plant used. You can make cleansing incense and smudges from the herbal parts as well. The berries also have cleansing or purifying properties, and can protect from negative energy. A juniper by the door helps to discourage thieves.
Lavender: If planting in containers, make sure to repot every Spring into a larger container with fresh soil to allow the plant to continue to mature and to provide as many flowers as possible. A good, coarse, sterile potting soil with organic fertilizer mixed in works best. In the ground or in a pot, full sun is a must. While Lavender is extremely drought resistant once established, it grows larger and produces more blooms with regular watering. In humid areas, this can be more difficult to grow and the excess moisture often causes death. As an herb, lavender has been responsible for many healing and magical properties. Used in love Magick, and for healing and purification. Enables you to see spiritual beings and protects against the evil eye.
Miniature Roses: Miniature roses are surprisingly easy to grow for some, others find it difficult, but give it a try. They look great as houseplants. They can even grow outdoors year round if the winters are not too cold in your area. They need lots of sunlight, and especially if kept indoors plenty of humidity. One of the most sacred flowers, roses attract the Faery to a garden. Nearly all parts of the rose have been used in love spells, enchantments, and transformations.
Pansies: Hardy and prolific, pansies bloom during cool weather when many other annuals have long been frosted away. In fact, pansies may be planted in the fall in all but the coldest climates. Fall planting is best where summers are hot; spring planting is good where summer days do not get too scorching. Pansies petals are also edible. Super-tough miniature pansies, known as violas and Johnny jump-ups, are grown just like regular pansies and are well suited to containers. They like partial shade to full sun and well drained soil. This is the flower that was used as a love potion by Oberon, a faerie king believed to have been invented by Shakespeare.
Rosemary: Also known as Elf leaf. Choose a sheltered position and well-drained soil, and allow the plant lots of sun. The thick shrub tolerates clipping so that the size can be kept in check. In hot weather it will appreciate a good hosing down. In a warm climate it can remain in the same location for up to 30 years, but in climates where freezing temperatures are expected it is best grown in pots so that it can be brought indoors in winter. This herb has a long history associated with elves and faeries. Rosemary is an herb of protection and exorcism. It prevents nightmares, preserves youthfulness, dispels depression, and induces sleep. Rosemary can be used in love enchantments.
Sage: As far back as the third century B.C., Sage was recorded as a medicinal and sacred herb. The broad-leaved garden type is the most valuable for culinary use and container growing. Sage makes a useful addition to the indoor herb garden. It does best if grown in a separate pot in a spot near a window. A Sage bush grown indoors must be clipped back to a reasonable shape and size. The plant can then be placed anywhere in the house, and will keep a room free of flies. They prefer full sun and a well-drained soil. Sage has a great energy, and just being around the plant can induce light altered states of consciousness. Sage is often used for purification purposes. Sage is an herb of immortality, protection, and wish Magick, and is known to promote wisdom.
Thyme: A sturdy herb that doesn’t mind being neglected a little bit, since it thrives in light, warm and fairly dry soil. This semi-woody perennial also enjoys plenty of sun. There are many kinds of Thyme. If you can only grow one kind of thyme I would opt for the common garden thyme. It’s hardy to -20 degrees Celsius, and can be used in countless recipes. You can use it fresh, dried or frozen. The Greeks believed that Thyme imparted strength and fortitude. Thyme can guard against nightmares, and is a common ingredient in dream pillows for this purpose. It is a very cleansing herb, and makes an excellent herbal bath for use before ritual, especially when blended with marjoram. Thyme is also used in rituals for courage or confidence. The herb is sometimes also associated with love, and was used in Medieval times by ladies to discover who their true love was. Promotes courage, protects against nightmares, and is good for purification.
Yew: Another tree/shrub species that does well in containers. They are a ‘thirsty’ tree and are best potted in a container that is a bit larger than you would use on other trees, allowing more compost or mulch and hence water. Yews are very stress tolerant, tenacious trees. Although slow growing they can survive extreme weather, hostile soil and environmental conditions. All parts of the tree are poisonous except the fleshy covering of the berry, and its medicinal uses include a recently discovered treatment for cancer. If you have children, dispose of any prunings carefully. The tree that links us closest to the mysteries of our ancient past is the yew. This tree combines an incredible life span; a tolerance for harsh conditions and poisonous foliage and this has lead to its being popularly considered a symbol of both death and immortality through the ages. The Irish used it to make dagger handles, bows and wine barrels. The wood or leaves were laid on graves as a reminder to the departed spirit that death was only a pause in life before rebirth. There are some convincing arguments for it being the original ‘World-tree’ of Scandinavian mythology. The Yew may be used to enhance magical and psychic abilities, and to induce visions.
The fun part
Now is the time to get truly creative. What sort of planter are you going to do? Is it indoors or outdoors, will the plants need to come in for winter? Is there a theme or specific purpose for this miniature garden? There are many ways to create a container garden; I will list a few suggestions to help you get those creative juices flowing.
Container herb garden: There are many ways to go about growing your own herbs in containers. You can even buy little kits that come with everything you need. You can grow each herb in an individual pot, or place all the little pots into one larger container to keep them together. I recommend starting small with only a few herbs and adding as you gain experience with growing them. Try growing herbs indoors in Winter; a rosemary bush makes a great little Yule tree.
Kitchen Witch’s Planter: Grow all edible plants. Start with some favourite herbs, and depending on space allowances add some edible plants and flowers. Such as: pansies, nasturtiums, some lettuces, compact tomatoes and beans will grow in a container, strawberries are a nice touch as well.
Luna in a basket: This is a great idea for the Pagan who loves to moon bathe. Find a circular container and paint it silver and/or with lunar symbols. Plant only white blooming flowers and plants with silver or white foliage. The white on the plants will reflect the moonlight, making them appear to glow. You now have a mini moon garden.
Mini Stonehenge: This is simple but can be really beautiful. Find some nice rocks and place them in a circle within your container, you will have to bury a bit of them to get them to stand straight. This mini henge can be as large or elaborate as you want. I recommend using plants in this container that do not grow very tall or are ground cover plants, as they will not cause your henge to be over grown.
Hanging: Hanging baskets come in all sorts of sizes and styles. Hanging baskets are a great answer to space problems. You can grow everything from flowers to strawberries to ivy. Hanging baskets with a mix of different types of plants look wonderful and are a great way to get lots of variety in a small space and they can be indoors or outdoors. Remember that hanging baskets dry out quicker than other containers, and they do need to be watered more regularly.
Tiny Faery garden: This is best done as an outdoor container, as I doubt the Fae will stray into your living room to visit a few potted plants. Choose a few plants favoured by the Fae and plant them together in one container. Depending on the size of your container, you can decorate the mini Faery garden to encourage them to visit. Make a faery house by painting and decorating a wooden birdhouse and place it in the container, add a little sign welcoming them or announcing that this garden belongs to the Fae. Place tiny gifts in the container such as iridescent marbles or little glass pieces. Faeries love anything shiny. Place a small dish or bowl in the container for offerings. Once the garden is started, you might want to ritually dedicate it as a Faery garden sanctuary. Don’t be sad if you live on the 22nd floor of a high-rise and think no Faery might ever visit your mini Faery garden…after all who is to say for certain they won’t come?
The “I can’t have a garden” garden: You may be in the broom closet, or a teen whose parents will not allow you even a small potted herb garden. Have no fear; there is something you can do. There are plants special to Pagans that are also ordinary houseplants. I couldn’t list all of them, nor why they are meaningful to Pagans. Basically, there are many houseplants that are medicinal, considered a sacred tree or plant, commonly found as altar decorations and more, just look and you will find. If something catches your interest, it is not hard to do some quick research on that plant. Ivy and mini rose are two I mentioned in the list of nine suggested plants. Also, there are many species of fern that are great houseplants. Some others you might want to consider are: heather, gardenia, mini or dwarfed fruit trees, vine, norfolk island pine (or any other small tree or shrub that will grow indoors), aloe vera, shamrock, grape ivy, bay laurel, violets. Simply add one or more of these plants to your home, no one need to know what they mean to you.
Crystal and Stone garden: Create a container with a little space in the middle to place a crystal that needs a little rest and recharging. Your crystals will thank you for it. A great way to recharge you crystal is to bury it in the Earth, so that they have the opportunity to feel the Earth’s resonance. This method is slow and gentle and a good way to let overused crystals to get some rest and relaxation or in need of a serious cleansing. You can also use this method for crystals that have completely clouded up, and that have begun to repel your attentions. However, this can be difficult if you live in an apartment, so the planter with space to bury or lay a crystal or two is a terrific alternative. You could even have cleansing herbs, such as sage, growing in the planter to give it an extra cleansing boost. Obviously the longer the crystal is buried, the deeper the cleansing and recharging.
Everyone should be able to have a garden if they choose too. Especially if you live in a place where it is difficult to find any nature around. No matter how small it may be.
If you never thought of it before, or just needed some motivation to grow a garden, I hope this article inspired you to head on down to the garden center.
Happy Growing! ~ Juniper