Friends of Forest Farming

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

As armies of amateur wildcrafters pluck Appalachian ginseng, goldenseal, and other medicinal herbs to near extinction, a coalition of universities, nonprofits, and “forest farmers” are working on a solution that will not only help preserve these wild herbs but also prevent supplement adulteration.

The Appalachian Beginning Forest Farmer Coalition includes Virginia Tech, Penn State, and North Carolina State University; the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry, and other government organizations; nonprofits like United Plant Savers and the Blue Ridge Woodland Growers; and Appalachian landowners and farmers. Together, these entities are developing a model called “forest farming” for cultivating traditionally wildcrafted herbs, including black cohosh {Actaea racemosa}, goldenseal {Hydrastis canadensis}, bloodroot {Sanguinaria canadensis}, ginseng {Panaxquinquefolius}, blue cohosh {Caulophyllum thalictroides}, stoneroot {Collinsoniacanadensis}, wild yam {Dioscorea villosa}, and wild indigo {Baptisia tinctoria}.

During…

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Pantry Profile: Chives {Allium schoenoprasum}

By Crooked Bear Creek Organics

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

With its bright green stalks and vibrant, lavender-pink and spiky blossoms, chives are a lovely ornamental plant and herb garden staple. Found fresh in the yard in summer and dried in cupboards in the cooler months of fall and winter, chives hold surprising medicinal and nutritional benefits. A member of the Amaryllidaceae family {Amaryllis}, which includes familiar alliums garlic and onions, chives have a mild and pleasant onion-garlic flavor.

Chives have played a role in medicine and protection for more than 5,000 years. The ancient Romans used chives to relieve sore throats, lower blood pressure, and increase urination, while Traditional Chinese Medicine turned to it for coughs, colds, and congestion. In the Middle Ages, it was a popular remedy for melancholy.

A traditional Romani custom was to use chives in fortune telling and to hang them in the home to ward off disease and evil influences. Planting chives in the…

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Summer Herbs: Feverfew {Tanacetum parthenium}

Summer Herbs: Feverfew …

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Also, Known As:

  • Bride’s Button
  • Compositae
  • Featherfew
  • Featherfoil
  • Febrifuge Plant
  • Feverfew
  • Wild Chamomile

The feverfew herb has been used as an herbal remedy since the time of Dioscorides-78 A.D. The herbal remedies made from the feverfew was used to treat problems such as a headache, the development of menstrual irregularities in women, disorders such as stomachaches, and all types of fevers in particular. The common name of the herb itself is a simple corruption of the name in Latin- febrifuge or the fever reducer. Botanist is still agreed about what proper scientific name to give to this strongly aromatic and perennial herb. The feverfew belongs to the plant family Asteraceae, the disagreement among botanists about naming the plant has been existing for a long time now. The feverfew was in fact, placed into five different genera at different times. At this present time, the herb is known by the botanical name Tanacetum parthenium…

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6 Bug Repellent Patio Plants

Six Bug Repellent Patio Plants …

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

We love to spend our summer days outside with family and friends, but pesky bugs are quick to drive a party indoors. For a chemical-free way to keep insects at bay this season, we asked the experts from our green goods team to recommend their favorite bug repellent plants. Planted near the doorway or transformed into essential oils, these six natural options deter mosquitoes, flies, and more uninvited guests in the summer garden.

1. Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis): Like many members of the mint family, this herb provides protection against summertime mosquitoes. To make a quick, all-natural bug repellent, crush a handful of lemon balm leaves and rub onto any exposed skin. If you’ve already suffered a bug bite, its soothing oils can limit itching as well. This easy-to-grow herb also has a number of additional applications, from infused teas and vinegar to green salads.

2. Ageratum ‘Artist…

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Tips For Growing and Preserving Herbs In The Low Desert

By Crooked Bear Organics

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Soil Preparation:

In low desert areas, growers are not blessed with the rich, organic soil we’d prefer to have. Most gardens will need some organic material, soil sulfur, ammonium phosphate, and gypsum. Every year, as a matter of fact, you may need to add organic matter and gypsum. Pay close attention to your garden soil. If you get a soil test, you’ll know what the pH and fertility are and can make any necessary adjustments. If the test indicates your soil needs it, add fertilizer during pre-plant soil preparation, when it is easier to amend the soil; you’ll also find the results more effective. Spade the soil deeply, to a depth of 18 inches, to loosen compact soils. Enrich the soil with plenty of compost and well-rotted manure. It greatly helps gardeners to spade as much as 6 inches of organic material into the top 12 inches of the planting…

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Southwest Herb Gardening: What To Plant In June, and Watering In June

By Crooked Bear Organics

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

We recommend most plants be planted in the fall or spring. However, if you must plant during the summer months watering may need to be more frequent and you must be diligent about observing your newly planted plants for signs of water stress. Follow the guidelines in the Watering section.

Many cacti and warm-season succulents can still be planted in the summer. When transplanting cacti and succulents, mark either the south or west side and plant facing the orientation you marked to avoid the burning of tender tissues. Most nurseries will mark the side of the container to help you determine proper planting orientation. However, if the original orientation is not known, newly planted cacti and succulents need to be covered with shade cloth if the plant surface appears to yellow or pale suddenly. Use a shade cloth rated between 30-60% as anything higher will block most of the sunlight and…

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Walking Meditation Garden with Hugelkultur Beds

By Druid’s Garden

The Druid's Garden

As a practitioner of permaculture and as a druid, I am always looking for ways to work with the land to create sacred and ecologically healthy spaces.  That is, to create self-sustaining ecosystems that produce a varitey of yields: create habitat, offer nectar and pollen, systems that retain water and nutrients, offer medicine and food, create beauty and magic.  But conventional gardens, even sheet mulched gardens, can falter in water scarce conditions.  So building gardens long-term for resiliency and with a variety of climate challenges in mind is key.  At the same time, I am also looking to create sacred gardens, that is, not just places to grow food (which is simple enough) but to develop sacred relationships and deepen my connection with the living earth. Given all of this, I developed a design for a butterfly-shaped garden that would use hugelkultur raised beds and allow for a space…

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