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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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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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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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…

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Growing Wasabi from Seeds

    Wasabi is an evergreen perennial in the Mustard family, albeit one of the more sensitive and reclusive mustards on Earth.  The plant is native to Japan and cultivated there extensively, often grown in pure cold water of stream or spring. We find that the plant can readily be grown in good compost, as well.  If watered frequently…

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The Art of Direct Seeding

What could be more convenient? Sow your seeds directly in the garden at just the right season and watch them come up and develop right where they belong! Here are a few tips to make your direct-seeding experience as successful and convenient as it should be. What is it? Direct-seeding is sowing in place. One cannot “direct-seed” in a pot,…

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Info and Tips on Growing Arnica

Arnica montana (Mountain Arnica), the endemic European species, is considered official.  However, other species of Arnica (there are 28 in North America) are used by local herbalists, and appear to be medicinally interchangeable with the official species.  Arnica chamissonis (Meadow Arnica) enjoys a  wide distribution in North America and Europe, and is listed in the German Commission E Monograph…

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Rhodiola Growing Hints

Germination benefits greatly from cold conditioning/stratification, possibly ~ 6 weeks at 5 Celsius or colder, though typically seed is sown on moist sterilized potting soil (in plug trays – 72 cell trays are popular) during the winter and placed outside for two months or more, preferably with snow cover. Seeds can be covered lightly or pressed into the soil…

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How to Start Cacti from Seed

Those of you who are familiar with starting cacti from seed may ignore these directions. Here are some tips for those of you who are just starting out growing cacti from seed. You need to use full spectrum grow lights or a good greenhouse. You can’t just germinate them on a windowsill in an apartment–they need bright light and…

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