Weeding With Feelers Out

Echinacea angustifolia Seed Germination

The higher you are on the pyramid, up there collecting your volunteers, the better the view! — Richo Cech The Wasabi (Wasabia japonica) patch was long overdue for a bit of upkeep and rejuvenation.  Plants planted in midwinter were developing slowly beneath a cover of grasses and forbs.  My extended fingers pushed in toward the crown of the plant,…

Read More

Growing Mandrake — Beyond the Basics

Mandrake Fruiting Plant

Growing mystical plants requires a certain amount of consciousness on the part of the gardener, and for best results one allows the plants to call the shots.  This is only to the extent of one’s willingness to let go of control.  One never really knows where it will all go.  Simply wishing the plant to do well seems to…

Read More

Advanced Seed Planting Tips

Know your seed.  Examine the seed before planting.  Large seeds, especially those from the Legume (Fabaceae) family, have impermeable seed-coats that may require scarification (nicking or rubbing) before planting.  Smaller seeds in the Lamiacea (the mint family) also appreciate scarification to wake them up — rub on a #8 seed-screen or on medium grit sandpaper.   Needle-like seeds in the Asteracea…

Read More

Why Grow Open-Pollinated Seeds

  Cultivating a direct connection to the earth and all her goodness is the core value of gardening.  One trades the sweat of the brow for sustenance at table, for remedies in the medicine cabinet.  This is the birthright of humans, and can be accomplished simply, locally, inexpensively, and without advanced education.  You plant a patch of pumpkins, and…

Read More

How to Grow and Use Saffron

An aura of mystery surrounds Saffron (Crocus sativus), both the bulbous plant and the spice derived from its luminous red stigma. In actuality planting the corm and raising a few saffron plants to produce a small supply of the spice is easy, fun and rewarding.  One of the simplest ways to provide the right conditions for healthy saffron and assure…

Read More

Cover Crop Planting Guide

As an organic grower I think about where good plants come from, and the first elements that come to mind are sun, water, nutrients and good soil structure.  We know that when we nourish the substrate of life, then life will manifest!  The quintessence of this is found in a single statement, “Keep it covered.”  If we cover the soil from the…

Read More

Seed Growing, Harvest and Storage

This is a synopsis of a talk given at AMMA’s Chicago ashram on Sep 30, 2017 to a crowd of 50 participants. The talk contains ruminations, advice, theory and and methodology for growing, harvesting, cleaning and storing seeds of medicinal plants. What is a seed?  One can describe its parts:  the seedcoat or testa that surrounds the fatty endosperm–the energy…

Read More

White Sage: Planting, Growing and Harvesting

  White Sage (Salvia apiana) seed harvest has begun, the giant plants lifting their aromatic fronds to the summer sun. I hurry to get a hit before the birds do the job for me! The plant is native to central and southern California, with a gene center probably in Eastern San Diego County. This is the smudge plant extraordinaire!…

Read More

Growing True Comfrey From Seeds

True Comfrey Flowers

The flowers of True Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) are generally very richly arrayed and colored dark purple.  The leaves are lance-shaped and not so broad as those of Russian Comfrey.   True Comfrey is really the nicest of the Comfrey clan in my opinion.  From the luscious leaves to the thick, mucilage-laden roots I find nothing to compare. For years…

Read More