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.