Got myself a present today.
Beet, Golden Detroit
Endive, Tres Fines
Valerian is a particular favorite of mine. Beautiful and long flowering in the gardening and a very effective home grown insomnia tea.
We grow some of our valrerian in five gallon buckets to make root harvest extra easy.
Valerian. This will be my second time growing it. The first time, I planted it in the wrong spot, so I am trying again.
I love Japanese Eggplant--so nice grilled!
This will be my first year growing it. I discovered that I liked it last year at age 49. Never too old to try new stuff.
It says it is easy to grow any advice?
Lynda- root harvesting? Tell me more.. is that how you make the tea, with roots?
It says in the catalogue"Valerian roots in the second or third year can be made into tinctures, teas, or extracts"
So, Ihave a ways to go yet, but I am patient.
Nan - yep, root makes great tea.
Just harvest the root, clean and dry. Since my harvesting ones are grown in buckets that just involves moving the bucket to the porch for a week before harvest (to have it fairly dry), dumping the bucket and thunking the soil out of the root mass, sitting in front of the TV plucking each bit of root out and making sure no soil is clinging to it, tossing the clean root a bit to shake off any remaining dust, and then drying on a rack until crisp.
Here is what the dried root looked like:
I store the dried root in a jar and make tea with a tablespoon sized pinch of it and hot water. I steep it for 15 minutes of so and just sip around the roots.
I have wicked insomnia at ovulation time and PMS time. Or rather, I used to. Now I just have a cup of valerian tea at night for about 4 days in a row at each time. I don't strain the tea - just sip around the roots and use the spent roots to make a second, weaker cup of tea in the morning to smooth out any PMS surliness.
The effect is nice. Not a sedating or drugging sleep that leaves you feeling groggy in the morning. It's more relaxing and lightly hypnotic.
If I have killer cramps I also add a pinch of skullcap which settles them right away. Skullcap is also nice for garden aches and pains - it is relaxing but also seems to be gently pain killing, especially for muscle based aches.
Lynda, thank you for your information. I like Valerian and always wanted to try to grow it.
What kind of soil you are using in your buskets? Where do you keep buskets in winter?
Looks like you are not washing roots before drying. Is it right? Does your tea smell badly?
We fill our buckets with our container mix which is just really nice home grown compost with a little bit of perlite to improve drainage.
The unharvested buckets are out in a double row lining the driveway and they's stay there all winter.
You are right - I don't wash the roots. The soil falls out during processing and most of the processing work is plucking out each little bit of root and checking to make sure there's not a wood chip, twig or little dirt clump stuck to it. After all of that handling it's pretty clean and a light tossing shakes off any remaining dust. We figure if there is a trace of soil left behind it's not much and we know what's gone into it because we pay as much attention to growing our soil as we do to growing plants.
I don't think the tea smells bad at all. When valerian flowers it has an unusual scent - about 95% incredible flowery with vanilla overtones and 5% odd. The odd is a little like dirty sweat socks, but not too much and the good smell overshadows the odd so much that you keep going back to smell the flowers even if there is that tinge of oddness.
When drying it it goes through a stage midway through drying where the odd smell is more intense and then it does have a bit of a stink. Not horrible, but definitely odd. Don't have invite people over if it's drying in the living room unless they're friends or someone will think the smell is weird. :)
In the tea there is that little bit of oddness in the smell, but also something that resembles a mint and a mix of other stuff that is not unpleasant at all. The taste is very good. First steeping has some mint tones, a little bit of the oddness, and a bit of a peppery edge to it. Second steeping is milder and the peppery edge is gone.
Onset of effect for me is gradual over 20 min to 1/2 hour vs. onset of skullcap effect which is in just a couple of minutes.
Valerian tea is particularly nice for nights when you can't sleep because your mind's racing. (For me that's hormonal and usually takes the form of endless thoughts about seeds seeds seeds and flowers flower flowers.) After a cup of valerian tea I might still think about seeds, but I can stay on one thought and be relaxed while I think about it. At night that puts me in a good state to fall asleep. In the day it puts me in a good frame of mind to get stuff done around the house.
I don't sip valerian tea before driving because I do think it lightly mellows my reaction times. Skullcap, on the other hand, give me a better ability to pay attention to detail without any slowing of reaction time - while still being relaxing and being a great muscle pain relaxant. Skullcap tea is fantastic for sipping while doing tax forms.
BTW - when I mention skullcap the one I'm talking about here is scuttelaria laterifolia. That's the nervine tonic one.
One thing about valerian smell. None of my homegrown valerian smells anything like the stikola stinkiness of a jar of commercial valerian tablets. I've never taken those but hubby has and the smell from the jar was just totally off-putting to me.
I honestly think that a lot of commercial herb supplements are made from mediocre health plants that I would have culled from the garden and composted. One of the reasons I think that is from an article I saw comparing echinacea active content based on different growing conditions, and a number of the photos in that article were what I'd consider sick or failing plants - not anything I would consider harvesting.
Some of the stink in commercial valerian is likely to be that it's not all perfect plants, and some is likely to be that it's not all perfect cleaning. There's also probably other people's garden soil smells in there, as well as smells from roots that were bruised or abused during harvest.
I just love my valerian plants. Even if the the root wasn't useful the plant is so pretty in the garden. It blooms on and on and even with that 5% odd smell the scent is beautiful. Just a teensy bit odd. :)
I am now thinking whether I should winter sow valerian or not. If so when should I? Should I plant them in small pots with single or a couple of seeds or plant them in a large container? In other words do they transplant well?
The ones I WSed last year did OK until I planted them out in the garden. Then they fizzled but in the fall I could see a few coming back.
The ones we have established in the buckets were ones that my husband started and then potted up to increasingly larger pots. He started those inside a few years ago.
My WS problem wasn't germination, it was more that they went out small into growing conditions that weren't great. They just happened to end up in a lousy spot in the garden.
Depending how much seed you have, what I'd do is WS half in Jan or Feb and then WS the second half in April or so. Put a nice healthy sprinkle of seeds in each container but don't overcrowd them totally to death.
When it's time to plant out stick a couple of hunks into gallon pots and put the rest in the garden. Planting out Hunk of Seedlings style should work great for them.
Lynda, thanks again for your information.
You are saying that for harvest you just dump the bucket.
Will it kill the plant or you replant it again?
When I dump the bucket and after shake out some of the soil, I usually take a pair of scissors, cut the crown of the plant loose from the bulk of the root mass, and then re-plant the crown. Kind of like giving them a big root hair cut. I don't leave them bald but they end up with a pretty short new hair-do instead of the long tangle they started with.
The crown springs back nice and fast after it's planted back out and watered in. Mid fall is a good time to harvest because the plant is directing energy back toward it's roots anyway. In my zone harvesting in late September or early October works well. The mild fall weather at that time gives them gentle growing conditions for them to root in before winter.
Generally the crown is big enough that you can divide it into several divisions for re-planting.
Thank you, Lynda.
I have found live roots at Horizon Herbs (thinking this will be faster then growing from seeds). If i order and plant them in spring will i be able to collect roots in fall or i have to wait till next fall?
Thank you Lynda,
I am glad I posted this, and also joined this group. I am going to learn alot here.
Yes, roots will be faster, and Horizon is a great company. Not sure how big your roots will be by fall - but if you grow them in 5 gallon buckets they will be easy to dump out and check in the fall. If there's a ton of root, harvest some. If not, put everything back in the bucket and let it grow another year.
Be sure to look at the Horizon seed section for other goodies. They have an echinacea seed collection with 9 species and a skullcap collection with 4 species. Can you guess what seeds I bought and sowed this year? :) :)
Nes - Your Richter order looks like it's going to be really cool in your garden. I hope you'll be posting sproutie photos this spring!
My DH is having surgery next month, so we will how things go there. But hopefully.
Might be too busy to take pictures, but it doesn't hurt to look forward to things.
Thank you, Luckynes.
So glad I read this post, my mother is going to love the Richter's sight. She's looking to start an herb garden for medicinal and spiritual herbs. I've not come across a source yet that had so many to choose from.
I wondering what skullcap you are using for cramps?
I want to order seeds from Horizon herbs and plant for my daughter (hope she will drink this tea).
Have you planted skullcap already? Are you using pots for growing skullcap as well? Will i be able to harvest skullcap this summer if i plant seeds now?
Thank you for your very informative messages.
I have ordered from Horizon herbs before and liked the company. I like cost of shipping for seeds only order.
I will be able to harvest elecampane (official) that i grew from horizon herbs seeds next year.
Richters is the best when it comes to herbs of all kinds, I also use it for dye plants.
Briergardener, I'm using scuttelaria lateriflora (also referred to as Offical Skullcap or Mad Dog Skullcap).
We bucket grew a few plants the first year we had it but now I just plant it in the garden.
It grows fast and you harvest the leaves - so we do a big harvest and dry when the plant is in full growth. But you can pick off a few leaves as soon as the plant is big enough to spare them and just brew a tea with fresh leaves. The plant starts out a little weedy so it works best with a light sprinkling of seeds to the container and Hunk of Seedlings style planting.
Thanks again, Lynda.
I will try to grow some new herbs this year.