Do you have a witch's garden? A place to make offerings to the earth deities? Do you engage in any conscientious garden protection? Well, now is the perfect time to plant even a small garden (if you don't already have one), transform your already existing garden into a place to thank the Goddess and God, and do some simple spellwork to protect all your hard work from negative energies as well as annoying (and hungry) pests. If you're starting from scratch here, you can reference the term "garden" below for a few brief lists of basic plants, but for the sake of time and space, I'll assume you already have a garden to work with. Note that this doesn't have to be a full-sized garden in your backyard. City dwellers can modify some of these practices for a container garden on a terrace or even a kitchen windowsill (though I wouldn't recommend sprinkling vinegar and oils on your kitchen woodwork).
In the center of my witch garden I have an antique sundial that was given to us by a friend and on which I place offerings to the deities, burn incense, and even use as a table of sorts to complete fire spells that I have begun indoors but for obvious reasons don't want to finish in my living room, lest I accidentally burn down my house. But you need not use something so ornate. Two stones, one relatively rectangular shaped and placed standing vertically with a smaller flat round stone placed horizontally before it works just as well. They can be big or small depending on your space. Place your offerings or burn your incense on the flat horizontal stone. If you don't have the room for stones or just don't find the idea of looking at rocks particularly pleasing, you can simply push lit stick incense into the soil either in the center of, or around the perimeter of, your garden. You can even walk the perimeter of your garden while carrying incense and say a blessing to both your growing plants and the god or goddess of your choice.
Small garden statuary often gets a bad rap, and let's be honest, a great deal of it is pretty tacky, but don't rule all of it out. Why not find a small stone creature that speaks to you? Or even add an inanimate version of your power animal to a corner of your garden? If you choose a small enough statute you can face the quarters while holding it and call upon the powers of both the divine and the elements to bless your garden. Did you know that those big glass garden balls on pedestals that were so popular during the early and middle part of the last century are in fact exactly the same thing as a (smaller) witch ball hung in a home's window? Any glass ball that has been silvered on the inside is, in fact, a witch ball. One of these can be placed in the center of your garden in a color that is personal for you, and besides the protection it will offer, on a quiet day (and not in direct sunlight), you can sit and with soft eyes gaze into your garden ball and scry.
Moss agate is a powerful stone that vibrates to the element of earth and can be carried in your pocket while gardening. It ensures a rich crop and plant fertility. Charge your agate before use, and for an added boost of power, you can "plant" some agate directly into your garden. Four small agates can be placed either at the corners of your garden if it's square or rectangular, or at the quarters if your garden is round, buried into the earth to make your garden grow.
And to keep those hungry pests away from all your hard work you can mix a simple potion that can be sprinkled around the edge of your garden. In a small glass jar, mix 1/4 cup of vinegar and 1/4 cup of either olive or sesame oil, chop a clove of garlic and tear up or chop some fresh spearmint or peppermint. You can also sprinkle some black pepper into it as well. Shake vigorously and drizzle it around the perimeter of your garden, but take care to not get the vinegar on any grass or plants as it can burn them. You can also recite a spell as you do this:
Creatures of the air,
Creatures of the land,
This garden is protected
by my heart and my hand.
By the powers of three times three,
As I will it, so mote it be.
With these simple steps and the power of intention, you'll be sure to have a lush and very productive season ahead!
Photo of yarrow and bee balm courtesy of ben.tebbens on flickr.