Begin slowly by selecting herbs you already use on a regular basis. Grow them, get to know them and explore their potential. Next year, select a few more herbs to broaden your repertoire. As your garden grows, so will your magick.
Most herbs like a lot of sun. Choose a sunny spot in your yard or a South-facing window, but remember that this position also dries out quickly. If you don’t have the ideal spot, you can increase your plants’ light exposure by mulching with reflective or white stones or backing your garden up against a white wall, indoors, you may wish to invest in a small grow light. (If you don’t have a sunny spot, I’ll be writing about gardening in the shade soon.)
Harvest herbs before they go into bloom. Don’t just pluck off leaves, but think more on pruning it. Cut the main stem with a sharp blade, just beneath a leaf node, making sure to leave several leaves on the stem to keep it growing.
Some herbs are annuals and will complete their life cycle in one year. These you can harvest liberally the first year but perennials should be given a year to gain their strength before you prune them too heavily.
Some Magical Herbs to Choose from for Your First Garden
Dill is a lovely, feathery plant with a delicate aroma. It creates a pretty umbrella-shaped flower cluster. Dill can be grown in a pot and its frost-tenderness would seem to lend itself well to life indoors, but dill can be top-heavy so it will need a broad-based pot and possibly a stake to keep it from flopping over. The seeds should be planted directly in the soil, because dill does not like to be transplanted, but don’t plant too early in the season. If you are growing outdoors, wait until the nights are reliably warm. Keep the seeds moist and allow them 10 days to germinate. You’ll want to plant more than you think you’ll need because the swallowtail butterfly larvae may want to share.
In the garden, German Chamomile Matricaria chamomilla is tall-ish and elegant while Roman chamomile, Chammaemelum nobile is quite short and, if you can get it to grow en masse, makes a lovely and fragrant lawn, assuming you don’t walk on it too much. Both produce small, daisy-like flowers and smell faintly of apples. The flowers are used to make a delightful, soothing tea for the restless but it is sometimes not well-tolerated by people who suffer from hay fever. Both types of chamomile likes light, well-drained soil and plenty of sunlight. They both do well indoors in pots too. I think Roman chamomile looks best in a pot, German chamomile tends to get too tall and flop over.
More than just a garnish, parsley is very nutrient dense and has a pleasant crunch when fresh. Dried, it tastes a bit like hay, so I prefer to freeze it. There are flat leafed varieties, which I find more pleasant to chew, and curled varieties which I think look very pretty. Chopped small, parsley can be used as a vegetable and added in quantities to soups, salads, and sauces. Its flavor is best raw or only very lightly cooked, so it should be added at the very end of cooking.