Many pagan faiths are rooted in their connection with the earth, since they were largely practised in periods which spanned from the time of hunter-gatherer societies to the establishment of agrarian societies, and then declined (albeit slowly) as people settled in large cities and as Christianity rose to prominence in the Roman empire over the 4th century CE.
I’m not a pagan, but I still recognise that their holidays actually mark out important times for indoor and outdoor gardeners to know. Pagans celebrated celebrated these holidays to mark important times in the changes of the seasons, which were often tied to the arrival of pollinators, as well as times to sow seeds, when to harvest, and when the growing seasons began and ended. I don’t observe these holidays in any religious way, but I just think they’re helpful markers for my gardening. In this post, I’ll be focusing on indoor gardening, since that’s more my forte than outdoor gardening
1. Imbolc/Imbolg (Candlemas)
Imbolg is probably the most important pagan holiday for indoor gardeners. Imbolg sits roughly in the middle of winter solstice and spring equinox (Traditionally 1st of Feb in the Northern Hemisphere and 1st August in the Southern Hemisphere). It is significant for a number of different reasons. Firstly, it calls for indoor gardeners to begin looking for signs of dormant or stalled plants beginning to grow again, thus signalling when to amp up fertilising, or at the very least, when to begin fertilising again. It is an exciting time, because it also signifies the return of the rapid-growth season for some plants. Imbolc is also important because it’s kind of a good indicator that your plants will most likely survive the year since they’ve made it through the winter. Basically, if your new plants that you’ve had for less than a year survive past Imbolc, then you’re almost out of the woods and you can breathe a sigh of relief. If you’re planning on starting seeds which should be sown in later winter or early spring, Imbolc is a good marker for when to sow. If you’re starting indoors, you can begin a little earlier, and if you’re starting the seeds outdoors, you can start them a little later.
2. Lughnasadh (Lammas)
Lammas (August 1st Northern Hemisphere, 2nd February Southern Hemisphere) marks the rough midpoint between summer solstice and autumn equinox. For indoor gardeners, it is a sign to look for the slowing down of growth, which is an indicator that it’s time to water less and cut down on the fertilising. I’ve actually made the mistake of not recognising that my plant simply wasn’t putting out larger leaves because it was getting cooler, since none of my other plants had slowed down yet. As a result, I overwatered and over-fertilised it. Luckily, I was able to save it by making cuttings, but it set my plant back a good deal. Basically, if a plant begins to slow down around Lammas, don’t assume something is wrong, and just assume that if leaves are smaller or growth halts, that it’s a natural response to weakening light and dropping temperatures. Obviously, it’s a little early for most plants to stop growing, especially here in sunny Australia, but it’s nonetheless a useful reminder not to stress is plants slow down,
Samhain (1st Nov Northern Hemisphere, 1st May Southern Hemisphere) marks the midpoint between autumn equinox and winter solstice. This is important for one specific reason: it is the rough date that reminds us not to water or fertilise our plants which need a winter dormancy in order to bloom. This applies to certain orchids, as well as Clivias. There are of course, other plants which need a winter break, but these are the most common. If the pseudobulbs of the orchids or the leaves of the Clivia shrivel or wrinkle, then it is acceptable to give them a little water and ease them off of the water gradually after Samhain.