Saturday, December 13, 2014

Scott Persons, Author of American Ginseng Green Gold, Explains Why He Wanted Other Herbs Covered in the New Book

The other day an older man who has been a 'sang hunter and grower for over forty years asked me why Scott Persons would want to change what he considered to be the most perfect book on growing ginseng that ever existed as he held his well-worn copy of American Ginseng: Green Gold. He was referring to the book that Scott and I coauthored together. I was a little offended until I asked him if he had read the newer book. He said no, you can't improve on perfect so he had no intention of reading the newer book.

Scott Persons is a beloved authority on growing ginseng, speaking and consulting on the topic around the world. He is a humble, soft-spoken man who has earned the respect and affection of many people in the ginseng trade. His book, American Ginseng: Green Gold, is often referred to as the bible on the topic. So why did he team up with a co-author to write a second book? I did a post on a similar topic this past summer, but here Scott explains it himself in Preface I of the first version of Growing and Marketing Ginseng, Goldenseal and Other Woodland Medicinals:

 “When I realized that my old book, American Ginseng: Green Gold, was rapidly becoming outdated and that a new book was needed, I thought that many of my potential readers would be interested in practical, detailed information and instruction on growing other valuable native woodland medicinal herbs-other species of green gold-as well as ginseng. I asked Dr. Jeanine Davis to be a co-author and cover the additional material. Dr. Davis and I have interacted professionally for many years. I grow American ginseng and a little goldenseal on wooded hillsides in western North Carolina at the edge of the Great Smoky Mountians. Dr. Davis is a professor at North Carolina State University’s Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center, where she conducts research on a wide variety of native woodland botanicals. Dr. Davis works only about an hour’s drive northeast of me, and we often share information, and sometimes we find ourselves speaking at the same conferences-I on woodland ginseng production and she on the cultivation of goldenseal, ramps, and other native herbs. Our approaches to small-scale farming and our advice to prospective growers are similar and compatible.
                There is a great deal of material available, both in print and on the Internet that discusees growing woodland botanicals. Some of the information is excellent, but a significant chunk is partial disinformation. It is often not based on sound research-or even on more than one grower’s experience-and profitability is not forthrighthly assessed. Cultivating native woodland medicinal herbs in a sustainable manner is often advocated primarily as an enjoyable, even noble, activity. Of course, it is a noble and enjoyable activity (or it can be), but Dr. Davis and I have a more hard-core point of view: We are interested in using best management practices and in turning a profit.”

That quote is from the 2005 version of our book. We completely revised and updated the book in 2014. You can purchase it through this blog, local independent bookstores, and all the major on-line booksellers. It is available in paperback and as an ebook.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Special Collection of Woodland Medicinal Seeds!

My friends at Garden Medicinals and Culinaries in Virginia are offering a special collection of three full-sized packets of black cohosh, ginseng, and wild yam seeds. This is perfect for the beginning woodland medicinal herb grower. Wrap it up with an author signed copy of my book (see right sidebar) and you have a great holiday gift for the gardener and herb enthusiast. Because these are moist living seeds, they will be shipped in the spring just in time for planting. This is item 7801 and is available for $9.00.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

50% OFF Book Sale-All Books by My Favorite Publisher!!

                               Photo from the New Society website
New Society Publishers is offering 50% off ALL their books through December 12. New Society is my publisher and I chose them because they represent my values and publish on topics I am interested in. They have great books on farming, gardening, green building, energy, food, health, sustainable living, sustainable communities, and finances. And of course, you can order my book through them. Check them out at New Society Publishers.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Choosing Plants for Your Woodland Botanical Garden-Are You a Purist?

When we talk about shade medicinal herb gardens, I find there are two distinct groups of gardeners: those who will only use native medicinal plants and those who like to "mix it up a bit". As I wrote in the new home garden section of my book Growing and Marketing Ginseng, Goldenseal and Other Woodland Medicinals (you can order it by clicking on one of the "Add to Cart" buttons on the right sidebar of this blog) "As you make your shade garden plans, consider what kind of plants you want in it. Do you want to grow only native plants? Do you want mostly native plants with some exotics thrown in for color and interest? Do you want to plant only medicinal plants? What about designing a garden of medicinal and edible plants? Are you trying to create a particular garden that will need some specific trees and plants, such as Spanish moss hanging from tree limbs for a Southern garden ambiance? Don't take this all too seriously. Have fun. Collect plants from friends, festivals, and herbalists. If a plant is not a medicinal herb but you really like it, so what? Put it in your garden. And don't be afraid to make mistakes. You can always move plants!" 

Further along in that chapter, there are cautions about introducing invasive plants or potentially toxic plants, but I go on to describe a large number of medicinal herbs, vines, shrubs, small trees, big trees, ferns, berries, mosses, and non-medicinal plants to consider. The bottom line is this is your garden. You can make it whatever you want it to be. If you want it to look like a botanical garden with metal identification tags with common and scientific names in front of every plant, go for it. If you want it to be a whimsical fairy land with beautiful medicinal, edible, and decorative plants with gazing globes, a small waterfall, and wind chimes included, I love those, too. Gardening should bring us pleasure and make us smile-embrace it, have fun, and remember to share your pictures!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Growing Woodland Medicinals in the Home Garden

The 2014 revision of my book "Growing and Marketing Ginseng, Goldenseal, and Other Woodland Medicinals" has a whole new section devoted to home gardeners. Gardeners have always found the book useful for learning how to grow and propagate these beautiful native plants, but the new section provides detailed information on how to design the garden, choose the best plants, and make use of what you grow. What a great gift for the gardener in your family! Here is a short excerpt from the beginning of that section:

"When I first moved to western North Carolina to take my position with North Carolina State University, we lived in a little house nestled in the woods on an oversized lot in a small neighborhood. For ten years we tried to grow vegetables in a small clearing near the house without much success, but we also planted native medicinal herbs and ornamentals throughout the woods, and they flourished. Over the years we built walking paths through the woods and created habitat for different kinds of plants. There was an area under the dogwoods near the “forest edge” planted with galax and shortia. Behind it grew a patch of mayapple that quadrupled in size while we lived there. We planted bloodroot, ginseng, goldenseal, wild ginger, blue cohosh, ramps, sassafras (Sassafras albidum), and Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum biflorum). And I will never forget the excitement I felt when we discovered two pink lady’s slippers (Cypripedium acaule) growing in a corner of the lot far from our paths. We carefully guarded that area and watched for them to emerge each year.
My objective with this section is to help others create woodland medicinal herb gardens to enjoy with their families like we did. Woodland gardens fit well into busy lives, too. When properly established they will take care of themselves for the most part. Weeding is minimal and watering is usually only required in a drought. I have fond memories of walking the garden trails with my children looking for what had emerged or bloomed since we had last been through. My daughter, as young as four years old, always looked forward to finding the first “little brown jug” on the wild ginger plants each spring.
Keeping with the design of the previous two sections of the book I visited and interviewed six amazing gardeners. What a joy it was to spend a few hours with each of them. And then I was delighted when Scott said he wanted to add a chapter for growing ginseng in the home garden, too."

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Where to Buy Seeds and Plants to Grow Your Own Ginseng, Goldenseal and Other Woodland Botanicals

The interest in growing ginseng, goldenseal, black cohosh, bloodroot, and ramps is greater than ever. I receive dozens of inquiries each week at work about them. Common questions this week have been "Where can I buy ginseng seeds?", "Who sells goldenseal rhizomes?", "Where can I buy shade cloth?", and "Where can I buy a root washer?" Because Scott Persons and I get so many of those questions, we put extnesive (although not exhaustive) resource lists in our book "Growing and Marketing Ginseng, Goldenseal and Other Woodland Medicinals". All of those listed are companies we have done business with or know personally.

Fall is a good time to plant and its not too late to get many of these plants and seeds into the ground. Just think, come spring you will have some of your own woodland medicinals growing!

To order a lead author signed copy of the book, just click on the appropriate "Add to Cart" button on the right. For more information, click on the Book tab above.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A Very Early Snowfall at Our Tiny Farm

This is a photo from our farm on November 1. Beautiful, but I don't remember ever getting this much snow this early before. We had about three inches on the ground.

Forecasts are for a very snowy, icey, and cold winter. Fortunately, it was a good hay season and we were able to purchase and put up a big supply of high quality horse hay at a good price. Our final delivery of firewood arrives on Friday and the roundbales of hay for the cattle will arrive this weekend. The garlic is planted and mulched. There are lots of potatoes and squash in the cellar. I think we are in good shape!
The only problem is that little Chester REALLY does not like to walk in the snow.