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."

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