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Planting by the Signs

During a 28-day cycle, the moon spends 2 1/2 days in each sign. The most fertile signs and hence the best time for planting, are the water signs of Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces. The Earth signs of Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn are next. Taurus and Capricorn are best for root crops and will produce a strong, hardy plant. Capricorn is excellent for all cactus and drought resistant plants. Libra rules beauty and is therefore excellent for planting ornamentals and flowers.

The first day the moon is in a sign is better for planting than the second, and the second is better than the third (remember-the moon is in each sign 2 1/2 days). The very best times for planting are the new moons in Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces, and Taurus (in that order). Below is a list of what is best done during each moon sign.

  • ARIES~Plant onions. Cultivate, kill weeds and insects.
  • TAURUS~Good for planting root crops and seedlings.
  • GEMINI~Don’t plant!  Good for reading up on gardening!
  • CANCER~This is the most fertile sign of the Zodiac. Best time for planting, cultivating, grafting and transplanting (especially above-ground crops).
  • LEO~This is the driest, most barren sign. It is good for killing weeds and pests.
  • VIRGO~Good for getting your garden in order.
  • LIBRA~Very good for planting all ornamentals and flowers.
  • SCORPIO~Very good for all planting, irrigating and pruning to stimulate growth.
  • SAGITTARIUS~Best for just enjoying being out doors and sun-bathing in your garden!
  • CAPRICORN~Good for all root crops. (See notes above).
  • AQUARIUS~Have a few friends over to enjoy your garden!
  • PISCES~Things planted now will grow beyond belief!

From Care2 ~ Witchy Cooking & More group

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Herbal Altar Pentacle

  • 3 – 4 tablespoons dried herbs of your choice/intent
  • Bakeable  clay in your choice of color.  Amount varies according to the desired size. 4 to 5 blocks of clay are usually more than sufficient for a pentacle less than 12 inches in circumference.
  • Round piece of wood or cork in your choice of size
  • Cookie sheet
  • Hot glue sticks and hot glue gun

1. Using your fingers, thoroughly mix the herbs into the clay.  Charging the mixture with your intent.
2. Divide  the clay into five equal portions, then form them into long rolls by rubbing them between your palms.  Position them on the wood or cork to form a five-pointed star; join and smooth the ends together, trimming if necessary.  Remove the star from the round piece and place it on the cookie sheet.
3. Charge the star with your intent.
4. Bake the star according to package directions.
5. After it cools, hot glue it to the wood or cork.

Wildcrafting: Medicinal Plant Gathering Guide

By Brigitte Mars

1.  Make sure you collect the proper species. There are poisonous lookalikes for many plants. Use a good guidebook, or, better yet, take an herb walk with a local expert to identify species growing in your area.

2.  Be sure you collect the correct plant part.

3.  Leave endangered or threatened species alone.

2.  Be sure you collect the correct plant part.

3.  Leave endangered or threatened species alone.

4.  Ask permission before gathering on private land. Local, federal, and state parks often have limits on collecting wild plants as well.

5.  If possible, spray or water plants the day before collecting, or gather the day after a rain.

6.  Avoid collecting plants within fifty feet of a busy road and in sprayed or polluted areas.

7.  Never take more than one-tenth of any given stand of plants, unless what you’re gathering is over growing as an invasive weed.

8.  Gather leaves and flowers in the morning, after the dew has risen but before the sun is too hot.

9.  Replant seeds as often as possible, unless you are trying to eradicate the plant.

10.  Take a whole leaf rather than tearing a leaf.

11.  Collect plants in a way that ensures the continued survival of the species. For example, if all you need are the leaves and flowers, take only some tops. Cutting a plant back can actually help to promote new growth. Leave the roots intact to continue their growing cycle.

12.  Compost or use the herb parts not needed as mulch, compost, or use in herbal baths.

Wildcrafting: Medicinal Wild Plants
How to take advantage of wild plants medicinal benefits.
By Brigitte Mars

Some of us think of medicinal wild plants as weeds—unappealing plants that grow where they’re unwanted. But shift your perspective—and possibly your taste buds—in a different direction for just a moment.

Weeds grow without our help; they’re usually native or naturalized to their home environment. They thrive without fertilizer and usually without supplemental watering. Best of all, many common “weeds” are actually therapeutic, nutritious, or both. And usually, they’re yours for the taking, although you may have to ask a landowner’s permission or be careful to avoid roadsides and sprayed areas.

Harvesting medicinal wild plants is known as wildcrafting; it’s a tradition with a rich history both in Europe and the United States. Unfortunately, as the market for herbal products has heated up, some species of less common herbs have been overharvested in the wild. Arnica (Arnica spp.) and goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) are two examples.

But harvesting the more common plants, ones that grow in untended abundance, to eat or use in easy, healing recipes, can be a wonderful way to reunite with the outdoors, and an excellent introduction to using medicinal herbs. Here are eight to try.

Dandelion
(Taraxacum officinale)

Believed to be native to Greece or Persia, dandelion now grows throughout the United States in most lawns and fields. It’s a perennial with a basal rosette of jagged leaves up to nine inches in diameter. Succulent stalks that grow from the rosette’s center are from three to nine inches long and exude a milky juice when cut. Dandelions are one of many herbalists’ favorite herbs to wildcraft; they’re so easy to find!

Eating dandelion: Leaves are collected in the spring, before flowers appear, and can be consumed raw or cooked. (The older leaves become bitter, but if you cook them in several changes of water, the bitterness is removed.) Roots can be collected throughout the year. Try scrubbing them and steaming as you would carrots. They can also be dry-roasted, ground, and made into a coffee substitute. Flowers may be added to muffins or battered and stir-fried. And dandelion wine from the flowers is a delight! One hundred grams (about 1/2 cup) of the fresh leaf yields about 14,000 IU of beta-carotene (more than carrots), 35 mg of vitamin C, 187 mg of calcium, and 397 mg of potassium.

Medicinal dandelion: All parts of the plant are used. The leaves are a diuretic, but they don’t upset the body’s potassium balance the way diuretic drugs do. Dandelion has been used to treat anemia, arthritis, high cholesterol, diabetes, gallstones, hepatitis, jaundice, kidney stones, menstrual problems, and rheumatism. In folk medicine, the sap from the stem was applied to get rid of warts.

Lamb’s-quarters
(Chenopodium album)

This member of the Chenopodiaceae (“goosefoot”) family also goes by the names of wild spinach and pigweed. Lamb’s-quarters is native to Eurasia and grows nearly everywhere in North America, except extreme northern regions. It pops up in vacant lots and parks in rich, disturbed soil. It’s an annual with an erect stem growing one to eight feet tall. Some mature main stems bear reddish markings. Its leaves are roughly toothed, either oval or triangular in shape. The flowers are tiny, inconspicuous ones, growing in spikes at the top of the plant; they produce tiny black seeds. Stems, leaves, and seeds are all used.

Eating lamb’s-quarters: This relative of spinach and beets is much easier to grow! It’s historically used as a spring green. Ideally, collect the leaves when the plant is young and tender and between six and ten inches high. Its seeds can be eaten raw or dried; they can also be ground into a flour and added to breads, muffins, and pancakes. Leaves and seeds can be dehydrated for winter use.

One hundred grams (about 1/2 cup) of lamb’s-quarters greens provide 4.2 g of protein, 309 mg of calcium, 11,600 IU of beta-carotene, and 80 mg of vitamin C. In 100 g of seeds are 1,036 mg of calcium, 64 mg of iron, and 1,687 mg of potassium.

Medicinal lamb’s-quarters: The herb has been used as a diuretic and to treat anemia. However, lamb’s-quarters contains oxalic acid, so avoid eating excessive amounts (such as 2 cups daily for months at a time) because it can inhibit calcium absorption.

Chickweed
(Stellaria media)

Chickweed is a delicate annual with a sprawling stem, covered with minute hairs. It grows in low, dense patches and has small, untoothed oval-shaped leaves that grow opposite and come to a point. Tiny, white, five-petaled flowers grow singly on the axils of the upper leaves; they’re about one-fourth inch in diameter. Each petal of the flowers is deeply cleft, which gives them the appearance of having ten petals.

Originally native to Eurasia, chickweed now grows coast to coast in the United States but prefers cool, shady, moist areas of rich soil in lawns, along roadsides and pastures. Chickweed flourishes in spring and by midsummer is usually dried up.

Eating chickweed: Because chickweed may bloom as early as March, it was once collected on the plains of India and later in Greece and Rome to bring healthy greens into the diet through the colder months. Chickweed has a pleasant, salty flavor—sweet, cool, and juicy, with a flavor reminiscent of cabbage. Young, fresh leaves are best (dried leaves lack flavor). Fresh leaves will keep well in the refrigerator for several days. One-half cup of chickweed leaves (100 g) provides about 350 mg of vitamin C, 29 mg of iron, and 243 mg of potassium.

Medicinal chickweed: All aboveground parts of chickweed can be used. It has been used to treat asthma, bladder irritation, bronchitis, cough, fever, hoarseness, rheumatism, sore throat, tuberculosis, and ulcers. Chickweed is thought to cleanse the kidneys and liver after a winter of heavy food; it has a long history as a diet aid. It has traditionally been given to strengthen the frail. Topically, chickweed can be used as a poultice and salve for arthritic limbs, burns, itchy skin, diaper rash, nettle sting, psoriasis, and eczema.

Tips and cautions: Excess internal use of chickweed may cause diarrhea. Avoid eating plants that grow next to water, as they may harbor giardia.

Malva
(Malva spp.)

This member of the Malvaceae family is a relative of marshmallow, cotton, hibiscus, and okra. It’s native to Eurasia, has been cultivated since the Roman Empire, and now grows wild over much of North America.

An annual or biennial, malva is a low-spreading plant that grows up to twelve inches tall. Its roundish leaves have scalloped edges up to four inches wide. Flowers are about one-half inch wide and striped in pink and white. The fruit is round, like an old-fashioned cheese wheel. Malva grows in disturbed soil, close to human habitation.

Eating malva: The leaves, flowers, and young seeds all are edible and have a mild, mellow flavor. The leaves can be eaten in salads, added to soups as a flavorful thickener, or simply made into a tea. The green seed capsules, also known as “cheeses,” can be eaten in salads or pickled. Flowers can be used to decorate a salad or cake. A related species was once used to make the confection marshmallow.

Medicinal malva: The plant has been used to treat constipation; it contains mucilage, a healing, slippery substance that helps lubricate the bowel and soothe ulcers and sore throat. Malva leaves can also be used in a poultice for insect bites, stings, and swellings.

Mustard
(Various species)

Mustards, all from the Brassicacaea family, include black mustard (Brassica sinapiodes), white mustard (Sinapsis alba), brown mustard (B. juncea), garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata, A. officinalis), pepper grass (Lepidium perfoliatum), white top mustard (Cardaria draba), tansy mustard (Descurania spp.), and hedge mustard (Sisymbrium officinale).

Black mustard is native to Asia Minor, brown mustard to the Himalayas, and white mustard to the eastern Mediterranean region. All three varieties now grow wild in most of the United States and southern Canada in vacant lots, urban areas, and hillsides in rich, moist, disturbed soil. Mustard is an annual, growing anywhere from one to eight feet tall. Its flowers come in a variety of colors, but all have four petals in the shape of a cross, with four sepals, six stamens, and one pistil.

Eating mustard: Since 1984, The American Cancer Society has suggested eating foods in the Brassicacaea family as part of a diet to prevent certain cancers. Mustard greens can be cooked like spinach or chard; flowers are edible in salads and as a garnish. Young seed pods can be added to salads and stir-fry dishes. Mustards do contain some irritating essential oils, so indulge in moderation.

One hundred grams (about 1/2 cup) of mustard greens provide 183 mg of calcium, 377 mg of potassium, 7,000 IU of beta-carotene, and 97 mg of vitamin C.

Medicinal mustard: When eaten, mustard stimulates the appetite and the production of gastric juices. The ground seed has been used medicinally to treat chilblains, cough, and respiratory congestion. A mustard-seed poultice can be used for chest colds, bronchitis, pneumonia, and rheumatism. Never apply such a poultice directly to the skin, however; cover it with a clean cloth first to avoid burning or blistering. Check the skin frequently.

Stinging nettle
(Urtica dioica, U. urens)

This European native grows throughout the United States in shady areas and damp soil. A perennial, it grows up to six feet tall with oblong tapered leaves growing on opposite sides of the stem. Tiny stinging hairs cover the sharply toothed margins of the leaves, giving this weed its name.

Eating nettle: This plant is a fairly rich source of protein and minerals. However, to get to them, you have to get past the stinging hairs! Wear gloves, long sleeves, and long pants to collect them. If you do get stung, crush some leaves of yellow dock (Rumex crispus), which usually grows nearby, and apply to the area. Obviously, you don’t want to consume raw nettles. Cooking the leaves disarms their sting. They can be steamed or stir-fried, made into a tea, or cooked in a soup. Young tender shoots of nettles are also edible. One hundred grams (about 1/2 cup) of nettles provides 4,900 IU of beta-carotene and 790 mg of vitamin C.

Medicinal nettle: Nettles have been used to treat acne, anemia, asthma, bronchitis, urinary infections, eczema, swelling, allergies, and many other disorders. Tops of nettles should be harvested in spring before the plant flowers, using gloves and scissors. Tops, which include the youngest, most tender leaves, are considered less fibrous than the lower portion of the plant.

A double-blind study conducted in Portland, Oregon, documented nettles’ ability to help hay fever sufferers. Sixty-nine patients with allergies were given either freeze-dried nettles or a placebo. Those given nettles showed a 58 percent improvement while the placebo group had only a 37 percent improvement.

Purslane
(Portulaca oleracea, P. sativa)

Also known as wild portulaca or verdolaga, purslane is native to Persia, Africa, and India. It was introduced into Europe by Arabs in the fifteenth century as a salad herb. Purslane is now found all over the Americas in gardens and vacant areas in damp to dry soil.

Purslane is an annual, low-growing, fleshy herb, up to eight inches across, with prostrate reddish stems. The leaves are succulent, smooth, and paddle-shaped, about one-half to one-inch long and arranged alternately. Tiny yellow flowers open when the sun shines.

Eating purslane: Thoreau ate purslane while he lived at Walden Pond, and the herb is reported to have been one of Mahatma Gandhi’s favorite foods. Purslane has a pleasant, slightly sour flavor that can be enjoyed raw or cooked. It can be used in salads, pickles, stir-fry dishes, and soups. The dried seeds can be ground and added to flour.

One hundred grams (about 1/2 cup) of purslane contains about 2,500 IU of beta-carotene, 103 mg of calcium, and 25 mg of vitamin C. In 1986, purslane was discovered to be a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce the risk of heart disease and can help lower cholesterol levels.

Medicinal purslane: Purslane has been used throughout history in the treatment of a wide variety of conditions. Topically, purslane has been used as a poultice for bee stings, boils, burns and hemorrhoids. Avoid large dosages of purslane during pregnancy, and the herb is also not for those with weak digestion.

Violet
(Viola spp.)

Violas go by a number of charming nicknames, including heartsease, wild pansy, and Johnny jump-up. This perennial grows no taller than twelve inches; leaves are heart-shaped and vary from one-half to five inches wide. Flowers can be purple, white, yellow, or pink, about one-half to three-quarters-of-an-inch wide. Violets usually grow in colonies in shady damp areas. (Do not confuse violets with arnica, which should not be eaten.)

Eating violet: As long as the leaves are heart-shaped, violet leaves are edible in salads or as a cooked green. The flowers are edible and make a beautiful garnish. You can also freeze flowers into ice cubes for a touch of elegance.

Medicinal violet: Violets contain salicylates, saponins, alkaloids (violene), flavonoids, volatile oil, beta-carotene, and vitamin C. Violet leaves and flowers have been traditionally used to treat acne, boils, cysts, eczema, fever, fibrocystic breast disease, headaches, lymphatic congestion, mastitis, psoriasis, sore throat, and ulcers.

Life is a journey through many terrain
From gardens of pleasure to deserts of pain
From an ocean of love to a jungle of hate
From mountains of glory to canyons of fate

There’s a highway for joy and a highway for sorrow
A road for today and a road for tomorrow
So choose your path wisely and walk with care
If you follow your heart, you’ll find your way there

I’ve been to the garden and planted seeds there
I’ve been to the desert and felt the despair
I’ve swam in the ocean and drank of it’s wine

I climbed up the mountain to touch the sky
I went to the canyon and started to cry
I’ve traveled both highways,
Both today and tomorrow
I’ve basked in the joy and wallowed in sorrow

My path has been chosen and
I’ve walked it with care
I followed my heart and I’m on my way there
So I’ll just keep walking till I find what I’m after
To mountains and oceans and
Gardens of laughter.

~author unknown~

Herbs of magick, herbs of power

Root and bark, leaf and flower

Work for me when charms are spoken

Potions brewed and curses broken.

~Author unknown~

Cooking with Tea

By Alexandra Zohn, Kiwi

Update your spice rack with tea! Since the discovery of the tea plant Camellia sinensis in China 5,000 years ago, tea has been a popular drink worldwide. But the Chinese didn’t just sip it–according to Diana Rosen, co-author of Cooking with Tea, they also used the leaves to prepare fish, duck and hard-boiled eggs. “Tea is like a non-chemical MSG,” Rosen says. “It’s hard to identify it as an ingredient in a dish, but it interacts with the flavors, adding a sparkle.”

Now, tea is making a comeback in the kitchens of the more experimental chefs as a creative way to add a little something extra to dishes. Just like spices, tea comes in flavors. White tea, from young leaves, is subtle with floral and citrus notes. Green tea can have a light, smoky flavor with grassy notes. Some Oolong teas have floral, fruity or spicy hints, while others have more roasted flavors. Black tea, the most commonly consumed tea worldwide, is astringent, and its flavor varies dramatically among regions. And like grapes used in wine, tea leaves come in varietals. Their colors, fragrances and tastes are products of climate, soil, altitude and rain–factors that are collectively known as terroir.

With all this variation, tea experts and aficionados recommend that you let your own palate guide you. “Each tea is individual and should be tasted first to find its predominant characteristic–is it sharp, soft, citrus, earthy or smoky?” Rosen says. “Then it can be matched with a recipe.” She suggests using intense teas when preparing intense-flavored dishes, and pairing delicate teas with delicate foods. “Sweet, grassy, green teas are wonderful in salads or with briny shrimp or egg dishes; black tea is great with meat or poultry, and it’s delicious in fruit compotes, where it cuts the sweetness,” she says. “Fruity teas are good for ice cream or egg sauces.” When cooking with tea, Rosen suggests experimenting with the flavors and using good quality tea. She cautions novice tea-cookers to take care not to cook the tea for too long and to go easy with the amounts used. And not to worry–cooking with tea is safe for the kids. With these delicious tea-infused recipes, soon the brew will have a permanent home in your spice rack. Heat up the kettle and start cooking!

Tea Tips: Here are the easiest ways to incorporate tea into your regular cooking routine.

• Place a tea bag in warm oil or butter for a few minutes to add flavor. Stir gently, cool and refrigerate. Flavored oils can be served in salad dressings or drizzled over soups. Tea-infused butter is a hit on pancakes and in pastry recipes.
• Use brewed tea instead of water when cooking rice or pasta.
• Infuse stocks for soups or sauces by placing a tea bag in them.
• Sprinkle tea on any food to season before cooking.

Perfect Pairings: Chas Kroll, executive director of the American Tea Masters Association, offers these suggestions when choosing tea to go with a particular food. Whether you’re sipping a brew or infusing the whole dish, these food-and-tea pairings are culinary matches made in heaven.

FOOD: Continental breakfast, rolls, toast, fruit, cereal
TEA: Assam, Ceylon, Darjeeling, Dooars, Indonesian, Kenya, Nilgiri, Terai, Travancore

FOOD: Eggs, meats, fried foods
TEA: Assam, African blends, Ceylon, Kenya, Lapsang Souchong, Tarry Souchong

FOOD: Light meals, tea sandwiches
TEA: Assam, Ceylon, Darjeeling, Green, Oolongs, Lapsang Souchong, Yunnan

FOOD: Spicy foods
TEA: Ceylon, Darjeeling, green teas, Keemun, Jasmine, Lapsang Souchong

FOOD: Strong cheeses
TEA: Earl Grey, green teas, Lapsang Souchong

Botanical Sorcery

Author: BellaDonna@Nightshade [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: April 5th. 2009

Here, in USDA zone 6, PA, the crocuses, tulips and daffodils have shown their leaves, if not their flowers, for the last two weeks. The earth is astir once more after the dormancy of winter, teasing the imagination into green daydreams of overflowing flower boxes, new plants becoming robust winners and last year’s herbs becoming stronger and lusher than ever. It is the ideal culmination of success for a botanical magistra

Every spell and incantation takes preparation, patience and a realistic assessment of probable outcome. Till the ground or create a raised bed. Pot or not to pot. Plant seeds or buy ready to plant seedlings. Numerous empty clay and plastic “cauldrons” bubble forth into imaginary, elongated dialog balloons entreating to be the showcase containers of future, flowering brugmansias, petunias and tomatoes.

Anyone claiming to be a practitioner of the occult arts should cultivate at least ONE herbaceous plant on their windowsill, doorstep or desk at work. Our Pagan – country dweller – ancestors would be dismayed at our current generations’ farming naïveté. Their lives, literally, depended on the fruits of their labors. In addition to food, healers needed such plants as comfrey, peppermint, valerian and belladonna to staunch blood, alleviate nausea, sedate and reduce pain.

Onions drew boils to a head as well as flavored soups and stews. Dandelion leaves were, and are, a spring tonic useful in teas and salad greens. The flowers still make an excellent wine. Artistic Druids are a natural choice for utilizing fruit and nut trees for their beauty as well as for besom, divining rod and wand making materials.

To dish the dirt on dirt, the best potting soil comes in dainty, manageable and hernia producing sized bags at most popular home and garden centers. Get the ones with fertilizer embedded, time release formulas. It will give your botanical children the best of pre-natal care and hope to those who claim, “I can’t get anything to grow” as they disregard the fungus reproducing on a decaying matrix in their polar garden, a.k.a. refrigerator.

Boast your witchy talents and grow a diabolical assortment of tomatoes, peppers and eggplants. In centuries past, these were considered the foods of the Devil. Today, it makes a luscious, Luciferian casserole by adding shredded cheese and an herbed, breadcrumb topping. Yesteryear’s tomatoes, called love apples, were thought poisonous. Their rank smelling leaves, common to numerous nightshades, enhanced the evil reputation. Solanum flowers are often very small, hang in clusters and bear fruit from the center. These similarities were accurately noted among the peppers and eggplants as well. They were logically avoided until brave sorceresses and their underfed, intimidated apprentices enlightened the food eating public by ingesting forbidden fruits and magically surviving.

For the culinary, cauldron challenged, botanical children of the night alluringly intoxicate the atmosphere after the sun goes down. Brugmansias, petunias and daturas, especially the white flowered varieties, are excellent specimens for the lunar garden. Silvery, green leaved mugwort and wormwood of the genus Artemisia emit a spooky effect. Place a mercury colored gazing ball among them. It’s a stunning full moon scenario.

Use gloves when handling nightshades. Brave macho types have no immunity from severe irritation. Barehanded pepper juice accidentally rubbed against the eyes will bring immediate pain and prove the phrase “hotter than hell”. Depending on preference and budget, gloves can be simple cotton, unecological throw-aways or thick no nonsense serious styles with a rubberized surface on the palm side. Colors range from blah to day-glow.

Hats are optional unless a health problem makes it absolutely necessary. PLEASE, don’t wear tall, pointy chapeaus, whether black with a three-inch brim or parti-colored with bell balls attached. It’s been a long time since the days of being drawn and quartered or burned at the stake. Let’s keep it that way.

Herbs are best for new gardeners, children, work-a-holics and the permanently lazy. Once planted, chives will continue to grow and multiply for years in spite of complete neglect. Mints should be potted to avoid becoming invasive. Pizza lovers must have oregano. Great with tomatoes, eggplants and peppers. Basil, an annual, became a popular yuppie herb. It grows easily from seed. If you have thyme on your hands, plants a large pot with various types. It’s an all-purpose seasoning and a good tonic tea. Lemon verbena is a wonderful summer chilled drink, room freshener and the best citric smelling herb available. Use borage flowers in ice cubes. Their unique blue blooms look fascinating in a clear beverage.

Rose petals and nasturtium flowers are edible as long as they are not sprayed with an insecticide labeled sporting a skull and crossbones on the container. Use them in salads or in vanilla ice cream desserts. For a natural sweetener, try stevia. It will grow into a three foot annual and each leaf can be used as a spoonful of sugar. No calories. No unpleasant chemicals.

Rosemary is another herb staple than can also be shaped as topiary. Its sprigs are edible, best with lamb, smell great as incense and the twigs freshen a room when burned in the fireplace. In slightly warmer climates – southeast England in particular—it makes a great hedge. According to the last authoress Adele Grenier Simmons, “a dry rosemary is a dead rosemary.” True. Keep it constantly moist, but not soggy.

Parsley, the underrated hero of the garden, is best remembered in potato salads, soups, stews and the pretty garnish on many a restaurant plate. Don’t ignore it. It is a natural breath freshener and the often discarded sprig should be eaten in its entirety at the end of a meal. No candy coated, plastic boxed confection has the magical properties of this humble herb. It is a vitamin-enriched mouthful of pleasant scented refreshment in the truest sense of the word.

Find your favorite plants by visiting a well-stocked garden center. Don’t be afraid of bruising the leaves and sniffing the fragrance. Buy what appeals to you. If a special magical working calls for a certain herb, obtain and use the freshest. The best achieves the best! If the plant can’t be placed in the ground, buy the best, fanciest, most emotionally pleasing container you can afford. These are your botanical babies. Show them off to their best advantage. Be proud of them. These true earthlings bring profound rewards.

Remember———

Think outside the flowerbox.

Plant the chant.