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Flower harvesting?

Posted by woodywoodchuck Wake Forest, NC 7 (My Page) on
Wed, Jul 5, 06 at 8:33

Howdy all!

New to growing/harvesting medicinal herbs and have had vegetable gardens for as long back as I can remember. Started a garden with 25 different herbs and plants this year, all from seed except Goldenseal and Ginseng. Most doing great, a few so-so (or very low germination) and some never sprouted. I will retry seeding the no sprouts this fall. I did do several smaller plantings of each in different areas/sunlight to see where they were happiest. Boy what a difference a few feet can make!

I realize this is a long-term project as the Astragalus, Goldenseal, Ginkgo tree and others are years away from harvestable. Others like Chamomile, Mexican Mint Marigold and the mints I am already enjoying. Im looking to build up a stock of herbs that I can use as the need arises for the next year.

Couple questions on harvesting that I could not find using searches. For Mullein flowers, should I harvest just the actual flower or the green sheath that contains it? Or should I cut the entire flowering top off or could I cut just half so I have some extra seeds for next year? None of the books I have really specified and say to harvest when in flower. I have been picking just the flowers when ready to drop on their own. Yes, takes some time but I enjoy just being outside and this is not a chore but something fun. Should I leave two plants un-harvested to cross-pollinate for next years crop?

The leaves themselves, larger low ones or top smaller ones from the stalk? Does it matter? One plant is pretty large with lower leaves over two feet long. I dont mean to take the brown leaves on the ground but up a little where they are still green and healthy looking.

Catmint and other mints. Flowers only in one batch and leaves in another, or should they be mixed together. The books again dont really specify.

Thanks for any help yall can give!

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Flower harvesting?

A good book is Richo Cech's 'Making Plant medicine'
I would rather harvest the leaves of mullein, but then it's dryer here and the leaves dry faster. You can harvest both the flower and the green calyx. I'd suspect it'd be easier to harvest both. I don't envy you that task! :o)
Mint, you can harvest leaves and flowers... you snip the stems, hang to dry and take all off the stem.
Now, which catmint are you talking about? Nepeta cataria?

RE: Flower harvesting?

The Catmint is Nepeta mussinii. Nice, low growing and spreading. I have Richos book and a couple others; they all helped a little and made for great reading.

With or w/out the calyx (I wondered what that was called!) would be the same effort to harvest. The flowers themselves actually come off extremely easy when ready, just a LOT of them! I want to get the most from the plants value so with them would be better or really does not matter? I do hate to top them off; one looks like a pretty old warrior or just has great conditions to get so large. Next year we will be seeding an area for 1st year roots.

Sounds good on the mint harvesting, much easier doing long branches than individual flower heads. From the growth so far, I should be able to get a couple harvests this summer.

Yes to the leaves drying slowly in NC, summers can be hot and humid. I brought a couple leaves inside to enjoy the AC and they still took two weeks to dry enough to crumble the main vein. Not cold inside, I like it around 80, but it knocks the humidity down to a bearable level.

Thank you for any help or tips anyone can give.


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