EIGHT Essential Culinary Herbs for the Witches Garden
Witches use herbs in their magical endeavors, as well as medicinally to heal ailments of many kinds. Before doctors were prevalent, when one had an illness or ailment of some kind, one would travel to the outskirts of town (sometimes into the mountains) to find the local witch and acquire an herbal cure from the witches garden or apothecary. Here are the five essential culinary herbs for the witches garden. Keep in mind this depends on your climate, but most of these witch herbs can be successfully grown in pots in warm weather.
CULINARY Herbs for the Witches Garden
1. Rosemary (Our FAVORITE Culinary Herb for the Witches Garden)
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is native to the Mediterranean region of Europe and parts of Asia and is a woody perennial. It has evergreen leaves and will produce white, blue, and pink flowers. You can grow it successfully in a pot, and it does well in hot sun and warm weather. It can also stand colder weather, as well and is considered a sort of evergreen plant. It requires little watering and so it is a low maintenance herb. If you live in a warm climate, rosemary will grow easily year-round for you in the garden. If you live in a fairly cold climate year-round, you might want to keep it in a pot and bring it in during the coldest weather. They can grow up to five feet tall and are truly a very hardy herb to grow in the witches garden.
Rosemary is one of those all-purpose witch herbs that can be used for healing and magical needs. It is said to help improve one’s memory and cognition when taken medicinally. Rosemary has been used to help stimulate the scalp and promote hair growth and healthy hair when infused into oil and rubbed on the scalp. Magically, it’s used to purify the air when made into incense or a smudge bundle. It is also used in love spells – the leaves and sprigs can be put into love sachets, bottles, and used in food as an aphrodisiac. Rosemary also has protective properties and can be placed under a child’s crib to protect from malevolent spirits and faeries; it can also be worn to ward off evil and sickness. Don’t forget that rosemary can be used in many dishes as medicine or as magick to induce properties of love, healing, and protection.
Another one of my all-time favorite culinary herbs for the witches garden is basil. Basil (Ocimum basilicum) is native to India but now grows in the Mediterranean and all over the world in gardens. It is known for its use in Italian dishes, particularly. Basil is also called Saint Joseph’s Wort and the King of Herbs. Basil is an annual herb and grows well in a pot and in raised garden beds. This witch herb needs moderate watering and regular pinching of the new growth is recommended to keep it from growing too “woody” or “leggy”. Grow basil near your tomato plants to deter pests. There are many varieties of basil, the most common known as sweet basil. The leaves can be added to salads, Italian pasta dishes, caprese, fruit salads, and many other dishes. Its culinary uses are wide-ranging.
In addition to its culinary use, basil has medicinal and magical properties. Basil has more than one essential vitamin, including Vitamin K and Vitamin C. It is said to have anti-inflammatory properties. The aroma of basil is due to its many essential oils. Pick a leaf and rub it gently between your fingers, then breathe the scent in and enjoy! The scent is uplifting and energizing. Basil’s magical properties include (but aren’t limited to): money-drawing/luck and love.
Every witch should grow mint (Mentha) in her garden. There are various kinds including chocolate mint, peppermint, pineapple mint, and spearmint (just to name a few). Mint is native to a majority of the continents worldwide and is very easy to grow. It is a perennial and is quite hearty. Mint sends out shoots and will take over a garden if it’s left to its own devices. For this reason, it’s best to keep mint in pots or separate containers from the rest of your plants. Mint is a sweet, green witch herb that can be used in the kitchen for different meals. It adds a sweet flavor to desserts and is used often in Mediterranean and Indian cuisine. Throw a couple leaves on the top or side of meals as a pretty garnish.
Besides its many culinary uses, mint also has multiple magical and medicinal uses. Peppermint tea is not only tasty and relaxing, it can also be drank to calm an upset stomach. Mint helps with digestion, so a cup of fresh mint tea after a heavy meal is just the ticket! Some other medicinal uses for mint include treatment for irritable bowel syndrome and use in aromatherapy to relieve nausea. Really and truly the mint is all about relieving stomach and intestinal ailments. Magically, mint has a number of purposes, just as the other herbs mentioned in this article, and can be used to draw money, to heal, to ward off illness, to draw love, lust, and to ward off evil. According to Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs, mint on the “altar will call good spirits to be present and aid in magic.”
Sage (Salvia officinalis) is a popular culinary herb and can easily be grown in the witches garden. It is a perennial and is native to the Mediterranean. It is a subset of the mint family and can be grown easily in a garden or in a pot. Sage has gray-green leaves and is a shrub, if not trimmed regularly it can become “woody”. Its blooms are typically a delicate purple or blue shade. This witch herb has been used since ancient times for various purposes and are documented widely. There are different types of sage. Sage is easy to maintain as it needs low to a regular amount of water and a healthy amount of sun. For culinary purposes, sage is used during the holidays as a stuffer for poultry (turkey, chicken, goose) and used in dressing, and is an essential herb in many Italian, Balkan, and British dishes.
Medicinally, sage has been used for hundreds of years for various illnesses. It’s been used as an anti-inflammatory, a diuretic, a tonic, and more popularly as a part of the Four Thieves Vinegar (which was a vinegar and herbal concoction thought to keep away the Plague). It was also used for snakebites, palsy, and fever. Sage is similar to rosemary in that it can also help improve cognition and memory. Its magical properties include increasing fertility, warding off evil, immortality, increasing abundance, and making wishes. Put the leaves in poppets, spell bags, ointments, and more!
5. Lemon Balm
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) is part of the mint family and is a perennial herb. It grows native to southern parts of Europe, as well as the Mediterranean and parts of Asia. As its name suggests, it has a lemony scent and flavor. Growing it in Florida, I’ve found that it does best with part sun / part shade and in a pot with compost added to the soil. If you live elsewhere in a cooler climate, your plant may need more sun but you’ll have to move it around to see where it does best in your yard or garden. Lemon balm’s official name is Melissa officinalis, as it is said to attract bees when it flowers, though it is not the same as Bee balm. Melissa was a Greek Goddess associated with bees and that is how this witch herb got its name. Keep it in a separate pot, as it will overtake the witches garden just like mint!
Lemon balm can be used in food to give it a lemon flavoring and is great for fish dishes. It’s also used medicinally as a tea to help calm fluttering or anxious nerves. It has a very mild sedative effect and can be drank before bed to help promote sleep. Lemon balm also helps with digestive problems, just as its cousin the mint plant does. Drink it in combination with peppermint for a nice complimenting herbal tea. Magically, lemon balm can be used in bee magick, to honor the goddesses Melissa and Diana, as an aphrodisiac, as an anti-depressant and as a complimentary herb in dream pillows and sachets.
Parsley is a great culinary herb for anyone’s garden but especially for the kitchen witch. There are too many recipes that call for parsley, more than I could count. But suffice to say, fresh parsley is much stronger and tastier than its dried counterpart. In addition, it grows like crazy once established AND the entire plant can be utilized in your magical practice once you’re done with its culinary use. Harvest its roots and add it to a ritual bath. It’s a POWERFUL purifier of the aura and aids in breaking toxic habits and relationships.
The witch who grows thyme in her garden is sure to attract elves and garden fairies. It has a long-standing tradition of being a favorite of the fairy folk. This culinary herb tastes amazing when stuffed into a roasted chicken, as well as in stews and soups in the Winter. Not to mention, when used in spells promotes health, vitality, and protection. If you live in a climate with hot, dry air, thyme may grow easily for you. I keep mine in pots, as it seems to do well with well-drained soil. But be sure to experiment and research depending on your growing zone.
Believe it or not, chamomile is a culinary herb that’s useful in herbal teas but also in many other ways. It can be added to desserts, and some clever chefs have even found ways to weave it into meat and poultry dishes. When added to witchy cocktails, it provides a soothing effect. Unfortunately, in my hot subtropical climate I haven’t been able to successfully grow chamomile. But if you live further North, you may have some luck. Remember, it is a flower and grows as such so it takes quite a bit of growth to harvest a moderate amount.