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…

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Medicinal Herb Seeds Per Gram

Stinging Nettles

Granted that careful planting of a small packet of seeds sometimes gives more results than a haphazard planting of a much greater number of the same seeds, yet still, it is nice to have access to larger quantities of seeds. Often labor and materials may be minimized and plant happiness maximized by planting directly in the garden or field,…

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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…

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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…

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The Power of Naming in the Plant World

“Leta mukasi!” says the witch doctor living on the northern tip of the island of Pemba in Zanzibar.  “Bring mukasi!” His hand rests on the distended abdomen of a little boy who complains of stomach pains, a common complaint in a tropical region where food supplies are seasonal and parasites know no winter.  The plant is Leonotis mollissima, a…

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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…

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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…

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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!…

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The Survival Medicine Garden

Money doesn’t grow on trees but remedies do grow on plants, or in them, as it were. Over the years I’ve grown quite a few different medicinal plants from all over the globe. The diversity has been very interesting to study and has been a great diversion. However in a pinch when I need a medicinal plant to treat…

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