Strega Nona Entertaining: Conjuring Creative Fun

From recipes to rituals, I will kindly divine the perfect celebration for you!

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How Does Your Litha Garden Grow?

The first day of summer is tomorrow, and I for one, am imagining lush green plants and foliage. What better way to honor Midsummer than with a Litha garden? Even if you live in an urban setting, you can get adventurous with the right size pots for roots, some potting soil, and cages for the vines to grow correctly.

When thinking of sun colors, I would definitely plant some tomatoes. If you’re in the Midwest, you should still be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor come August, and now there are so many varieties to choose from. Pretty multi-colored heirlooms, lush romas, or the ever versatile and easy-to-grow cherries are all good options. Likewise, some nice orange or red bell peppers would do well planted now. The tomatoes are the ones that need extra room for roots and wire cages to help the vines grow properly up top. For an inexpensive potting option, purchase some large plastic bins from a hardware store like Menards and drill holes in a circle along the bottom. Fill with nutrient rich plant soil and be sure to secure the roots of your tomato plants deep within it. Watering is of the utmost importance, and if you don’t live in a naturally rainy climate, you really need to keep up with this every day. A good amount is needed to truly keep the soil moist for a healthy, thriving plant.

One herb associated with the sun would be Rosemary. Rosemary is by far the easiest and most fragrant to nurture. Basil is also a nice herb to start with. The trick with Basil is to keep the stalks deadheaded properly. If it starts sprouting too many of those flowers, it can effect the flavor of your leaves. As long as you keep up with the harvesting of them, you should be good. Both of these also freeze very well in airtight Ziplock bags to last you into the winter.

If this all goes well and you’re feeling ambitious for next year, try planting some big and beautiful sunflowers. It’s always cheery to watch the little yellow finches feed at the seeds after they’ve fully bloomed.

There is something immensely satisfying about planting, tending, and harvesting your very own fruits, veggies, and herbs. Treat them with extra love and care, and I promise you nothing will taste more freshly intense with intent.


Photo by Artem Beliaikin @belart84 from Pexels



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Colleen DuVall has written articles, plays, short films, and a novel. Most recently, her work has been featured in her new blog, Off The Beaten Path for the Shepherd Express online (, and the Wisconsin Life radio show for WPR. She recently adopted a little grey and white cat named Tessa, after beloved 22-year-old Bootise passed on.


  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham Thursday, 20 June 2019

    After Thanksgiving last year I took the pumpkins off the front porch and set them against the back fence. I have some pumpkin vines back there now, one of which is blooming.
    Neither the marigold seed nor the chili peppers I saved from last year germinated this year. Only one pack of zinnias sprouted; they look gorgeous, I've got to get more plants out there in the back yard before summer ends. A few of the string bean plants germinated; they are in bloom now. I also got a couple of okra plants to germinate but they are not blooming yet. I need to re-dig three of my flower beds and try setting out plants instead of seed. One of the gladiolas out front flopped over so I had to stake it so it would stand upright. The persimmon and pawpaw trees I planted are both still alive. Gardening is a mixed experience for me but I can't resist trying out new plants.

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