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Posts Tagged ‘spring’

The 2015 Spring Garden was almost a complete failure – the only thing that did well were the beans. So I’m back (from outerspace) with a new plan, some more mulch, a trash can full of compost, and plans to really *magic it up* this year. I am not content to just put the garden in the ground. This garden needs magic, or I fear it will go the way of last year’s garden, and I will get no tomatoes and be sad.

The container garden contains only herbs and one yellow squash plant that I’m attempting to make work. We’ll see:

  • cilantro
  • Italian oregano
  • straight neck yellow squash
  • scallions (green onions)

The actual garden bed contains:

  • Tomatoes (Arkansas Traveler, Globe, Sweet 100, Sweet Million, Yellow Pear, and Juliet) – almost all cherry tomatoes this year
  • TAM Jalapeno (3)
  • Sweet Banana Pepper (3)
  • Clemson Spineless Okra (4 hills of 2 plants)
  • Bush Blue Lake Beans (3 full rows)
  • Eggplant (Japanese Long)
  • Genovese Basil

The whole thing (except the bean rows, which haven’t sprouted yet) is mulched thickly with cedar shavings, which will hopefully help with weeds.

I’ve also got an order in for some “seed bombs” (mammoth dill, italian parsley, genovese basil, and mixed romaine) to toss in my garden bed with the aloe and the lime tree, to try to make something out of an otherwise useless little corner of garden. If it doesn’t work, I’m not super sad, but the seed balls look easy to use and sprout, and the bed gets lots of sun. That bed currently only contains the out of control aloe plants and Frank. Frank is my 15 year old oregano plant. He’s very hardy. At his largest, he was the size of a coffee table, but he’s much smaller than that now.

In the past, my most successful garden came after I blessed it with a drink that came out of a very powerful ritual. Next week is our Spring Equinox ritual, and so I think I will make extra of our sacred drink (remind me to post on that sometime) and use it to bless the garden. It’ll have strong blessings in it, and I can do a ritual myself to bless the ground. I’ve made a small earth mother talisman for our Druid Mooncast workings, so perhaps she will come and participate as well.

I really *really* don’t want another failed garden. It was so hard last year to look out and see it overtaken with weeds, not producing any fruit at all. I know I went and got a new job and spent the month of May living somewhere else, which didn’t help, but it still feels personal. So this year, I’m doing my best to ensure success.

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(Catching up on the Pagan Blog Project – it’s been a rough two weeks in the Swamp, so I’m a bit behind. I’ll be trying to get caught up to the G’s this week, so you’ll be seeing several posts, hopefully!)

Fertility is one of the virtues of ADF, and you can read my original essay on the subject here. It’s something I am directly trying to increase in my life (not in the “making babies” way but in the “fertility of mind and spirit” way), especially in my career.

This is a very fertile time of year, even here in the Swamp, where things are starting to heat up and it’s now too late to plant vegetables that aren’t okra or hot peppers. I didn’t put in a garden this year (I ran out of time to get the bed prepared), but I am working on fertility in other parts of my life. Career wise, I am looking for new opportunities for growth and change, as what I’m currently doing for my job isn’t what I want to do for the rest of my life. In ADF, I’m trying to turn more attention to fertility of mind, as I work on leading my study group and progressing on the IP. (Right now it is a very scattered effort; I have one or two questions answered in several different courses, since I haven’t had time to really prepare well for any one course all at once.)

These two things are, of course, related – both are ways I’m trying to bring the energy of fertility and rebirth into my life, whether it be as a spiritual practice or as a part of my mundane job.

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I was working on my Ostara ritual last night and just not finding the connection I wanted. I’m going to be using the full SDF ritual this time, instead of trying to piece together my own (more Norse flavored) rite, and I just couldn’t find anything that seemed to be working, from any of the Kindreds, for the ties to the awakening of Spring that I wanted to bring to my offerings.

So I went outside to my gardens and tried to find inspiration there, and it sort of hit me all at once.

Honey bees.

We talk a lot about honoring specific deities in ritual, but it’s always seemed to me like we could do the same with any of the Kindreds (or with a Kindred as a whole, like we honor the Ancestors at Samhain). So while I will still honor Eostre and make offerings to Frey as his energy returns to the earth and brings forth the first plants that will later become his harvest, I am going to make a specific offering to honeybees.

First, because I like bees. I’ve always thought they are cute and fascinating, and I grew up in a family that frequently kept bees for honey and pollination.

Mostly, however, I’ll be making offerings because right now the bees are in trouble (this article is a good starting point if you’re unfamiliar). Whether it’s from a fungus, a virus, a combination of commercial pesticides, climate change, or some massive combination therein, honeybees are in decline, and that’s bad. They’re a crucial part of the food chain, as one of the major pollinators that we have for flowering plants to become the vegetables we eat.  There are a number of theories for what’s behind Colony Collapse Disorder – a phenomenon that has been sharply on the rise for the last decade, where honey bees leave their hive and just disappear, leaving behind a queen and ample storage space and honey. The answer could be any, or some combination of all, of the factors – but the final result is that bees are hurting, and our environment is threatened by the lack of bees. CCD, combined with the devastating effects of a particularly nasty mite that sucks the life out of the bees, is just bad news all around.

So as a response, I’ll be doing both honoring of honey bees as part of the Nature Spirits that are important to this holiday (especially in my area, where everything is blooming *sneezes*), I’ll be offering some of the blessing to them as well. I’ll also be making sure that my bee garden is up to date and planting some new bee-friendly plants to help attract them. My main offering will, of course, be mead, but I’ll also be offering local honey and some sweet smelling flowers from my garden.

It may not be a *historical* way to celebrate Ostara, but to my modern sensibilities, it only makes sense to combine my offerings with my intentions and actions to help the honey bees.

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With the last frost date less than two weeks away, it’s time for me to really start thinking about my garden. It’s sat, rather sadly neglected, since last June, so I have some work ahead of me to get the ground ready for transplants. (I use transplants since our growing season is rather short, and I like to get a head start on things like tomatoes that will suffer in the heat.)

I suspect, with as mild as our winter has been, that I could probably get my first plants in the ground as early as this weekend, but I still prefer to wait until that official frost date. Maybe it’s a bit superstitious, but I don’t want to freeze my tomatoes.

My garden is about 10×12, raised bed and mostly organic. I compost all my kitchen scraps and yard waste in two bins on the side of the house, but I’m not sure either is ready to go into the garden just yet. I’ll have to check them and see. They’re both pretty full at least, so once things warm up I’ll have lots of compost to spread around the plants.

The whole garden needs to be cleared of weeds and grass and turned over to be ready for this year’s plants. Since we don’t own a rototiller/cultivator, I have to till the earth by hand. It’s always kind of cleansing (as well as somewhat back-breaking) to grab a shovel and turn over all of the earth there.

I’m probably mostly going to put in green beans and tomatoes – for some reason I have a great deal of trouble with curcurbits (cucumbers, zucchini, squash) getting downy/powdery mildew and dying on me (or getting big but not producing any fruit). I’d like to try melons this summer as well, but beans and tomatoes are my staples. They grow well for me, and last year I ended up at one point with over 15 lbs of tomatoes – out of which I made a delicious vinaigrey, peppery salsa. This year I’d like enough to make some marinara sauce to freeze in quarts. I’d also like enough green beans to make another few batches of “dilly beans” – spicy dill pickle green beans that I eat by the jar if I’m not careful.

I’ll also grow hot peppers, but I put those in pots. Hot peppers of various kinds tend to like to have periods of dry, and tomatoes need at least an inch of water a week, so if I water the tomatoes enough to be fruitful, the peppers don’t do much. They do well in pots for me though – I’d like to grow a nice assortment, from jalapenos and hot banana peppers to some larger Anaheim peppers that I can stuff with sausage and roast. Yum!

At some point I need to figure out what’s causing  my problem with curcurbits (I suspect it’s a fungus problem with the soil), but with as much time as I spend at work, I don’t really have time to troubleshoot a lot of garden problems. I wish I had more time to devote to it, since I get a lot of satisfaction out of growing things, but work has to take priority over hobbies, even useful ones like growing food.

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I’m always sad to see the Yule season end. I like the anticipation and the coziness of the season, and while it’s fun to ring in the new year with celebrations and champagne, I always find myself a little let down by the sudden wintry reality that follows. Not just back to work again after a break (which is always too short), or the putting away of warm and cheerful decorations, but the seemingly cold feeling of waiting for spring that follows the celebration of the sun’s return.

There’s quite a lot of waiting in the winter, and it feels strongest to me right around the beginning of January. Our weather is such that we dont have long to wait for spring, but it’s frequently rainy and chilly here right now, even if we do get warm days in between. Though the sun is returning, the light doesn’t seem to change quickly enough. It’s still dark when I leave for work, and almost dark when I get home.

I’m looking forward to driving during the sunrise again, in a month or so, and to the days warming up into spring.

This year, though, I am trying to pace myself and savor this time of year. This time of year is so quiet, and I want to take advantage of that. We know the sun is returning, and the patient waiting offers an extension of the time of reflection that usually follows Samhain. I can make plans for my garden, perusing seed catalogues and diagramming garden beds, but I can also take the time to meditate on the cold (or even IN the cold, for short periods of time).

It’s also a good time to enjoy the quiet in my house after the bustle that defines November and December. The early evenings offer more reading time and time to spend preparing my house for the busier times of year, as well as time for deep reflection and increased devotions.

Instead of always looking ahead, this year I want to try to really dig into this period of stillness before Imbolc and the return of spring in March. I will light candles, burn incense, cook warm and hearty foods, and keep the fire of my hearth bright and welcoming.

Then when spring does come, I’ll be rested and ready for growing things and being outside again.

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