It is seed season. Back in 2018 I started the first US Seed Grant by gathering donated seeds from companies and sharing them out to HWB gardens around the US. Early on, all seeds were from seed companies, and they included fruit, veggies, culinary herbs, flowers, and of course some medicinal herbs. Food justice is health justice, so growing fresh food is so important and food seeds are as important as medicinal seeds - but to be honest, since most seed companies do not specialize in medicinal seeds, we didn't have enough medicinal herb seeds. We really needed more. So, I started buying medicinal seeds for my own garden (not that I need an excuse to buy more herb seeds, ahem), and then saving them to continue growing out to get more and more seeds to share. I grow herbs for free clinics, but I also grow a lot of plants that I also grow out just for seeds now. Over the past year or two there have been other HWB members and herb schools that are also now saving and sharing seeds back so we have more medicinals to share out as well. So, this year, I am so happy to be bagging up hundreds of packets of medicinal seeds from Lunar Hollow to donate to the HWB Seed Grant Program. It is very satisfying to bag up so many seeds for seed sharing.
Even after bagging up over 400 packets of seeds (yes, four hundred! woot), I still have more bulk seed left to grow out this year in the garden, and, to include in seedling sales for others this spring as well.
I have many new herb varieties I have purchased this year to grow out and hope to share seeds from those in the future. I will be growing new herbs such as Balkan Mountain Tea, Greenthread, Huacatay, Kkaennip, Labrador Bog Tea, New Jersey Tea, Green Pepper Basil, Perilla, Pushkarmool, Safflower, Hoary Skullcap, a few new types of Tulsi, Yauhtli, Hairy Wood Mint, and more. So excited to be starting seeds in my seed trays, and planning and plotting the gardens for summer. It is the perfect time to sort through all of the successes of last summer and bag seeds to share. I hope to share more about growing medicinals this summer, as well as tips for seed starting and propagating woody cuttings. Seed starting season always comes just as winter feels like it has been here forever, and I need growth and light to grow.
What are you growing this year you have never grown before?
I like giving regular updates on things. It helps me feel like I am recognizing the work I am doing, and, marking the time and passage of the things I am doing. In this work people often do not focus on any self care - well, I know I don't, anyway - and so it is a steamroller full speed ahead. By sharing updates, I feel more that I am recognizing my own work.
It has been a hard few weeks. My mother passed away suddenly on her birthday at home. We were able to see her urn and have a few minutes by ourselves before everyone arrived (we had to leave as people came in), but it was hard to not be able to be included in any memorial service due to my son being immunocompromised, and the service having so many people. It helped with some sense of closure, but also felt pretty sad and alienating.
But with that all happening, I have been struggling a bit. Luckily, I had several huge deadlines that I had just completed 2 days before she passed. So that helps me feel like I accomplished something, even though the past 2 weeks have been a wash.
One project I completed is as a guest presenter for a Health Justice and Accessibility Intensive for Wild Rose College of Herbal Medicine (MORE INFO HERE). I am presenting a series of 3 webinars on accessibility, community herbalism, and using social permaculture in community models, followed by a live Q&A coming up in March. I have been wanting to begin teaching more again, and this is a perfect way to get into the swing of presenting and recording myself for webinars and classes. I hope to do a lot more online teaching in 2022.
I was also interviewed for an Integrative Medicine publication that will be out in a few months, and interviewed for a video module within an Integrative Medicine program online - a "Meet the Herbalist" type of interview - where I was able to share more about the profession of herbalism, our work, the state of the profession in the US, finding an herbalist, and more. I will share more when some of these pieces go live!
I am also working on a few modular courses on Herbal First Aid and Trauma-Informed Practice, and am planning some more social permaculture and garden design webinars and online classes for this spring.
It is also seed starting season! We will be selling some seedlings on the farm this spring - if you are a local and might be interested in seedlings (veggie, fruit, culinary herb, medicinal herb, flowers), please fill out the interest form. It is just to help us get an idea of what types of plants people would be most interested in so we can start enough seedlings! (FILL OUT FORM)
I am happy my teenagers want to do all of the seedling work with me this year - and are helping me create spreadsheets to calculate it all and will be helping manage the plants until they are hardened off and ready for purchase/pickup. So excited for even the thought of spring. How about you?
For the 2022 growing season, we plan to have a limited supply of seedlings for sale at Lunar Hollow Farm (no shipping). These seedlings will be annual fruits, vegetables, and herbs, primarily, with many annual medicinals. As our first year doing this, we will be planning to start a large amount of seedlings for our own use, and will sell extra starts to friends who don't have the space or equipment to start their own seeds. This will be first come first serve, and we will designate spring pickup times (socially distanced, outdoors, most likely) for people picking up any pre-purchased seedlings on site here. We also plan to have some medicinal plant seeds for sale here on farm. We already have a lot of folks asking about the seedlings, so think they will go fast once we get our quantities set. I'm still buying seeds, so if you have any special requests, let me know! This year I purchased several new herbs (to me) from Central and South America, that I am so excited to try.
UPDATED TO ADD: If you are Interested In purchasing seedlings this spring (local pickup in Deerfield WI), please take a moment to fill out the seedling interest form so we can have a better idea of quantities as we start seeds.
I am also expanding our cutting gardens this year, so we will have some annual flower starts as well. I buy my flower seeds from Johnny's because they have the amazing earth tone flowers that I love so much.
Seeds are carefully gathered each fall from our gardens here at Lunar Hollow, processed, winnowed, and stored all winter long. We bag them in sets of about 25 seeds for those more rare seeds, up to 100 seeds per packet. Seeds will only available on farm here. Available seeds will be listed in early spring.
Keep an eye out for more information soon!
Seed Starting Plans
A few things I am excited to grow this year include:
Huacatay - AKA Aztec Marigold (Tagetes minuta), is a fragrant South American herb that is both medicinal and edible. It will likely be annual this far north, and is the plant found in Black Mint Paste you find at Latino Grocers. It is commonly used in Bolivia and Peru, and dried leaf and flower is used to make tea.
Greenthread - Thelesperma fifolium, is a dye and medicinal plant. You use the new leaves before they flower and dry them to make a tea. It also is used to make a yellow/orange dye. (as you can see from my list, I am growing a dyer's garden this year as well). This might end up being annual up here, but I do plan to save seeds so I can share to folks that use this traditionally next year.
Altai Dragonhead - Dracocephalum rupestre - I love Moldavian dragonhead balm, and this is in the same family, though looks more like Betony. It is found natively in Russia, Mongolia, and China. I have a rocky garden area where I am growing Rhodiola, so I think this will be perfect there.
Balkan Mountain Tea - Sideritis scardica - This is from the Balkan peninsula, and it is a downy, fragrant, plant. It is traditionally used as tea or tonic.
Flouncy Soapwort - Just the name alone makes me want to grow this. It is used with botanically dyed fabrics as it is super gentle, so I plan to use it in the dye garden.
Yauhtli - Tagetes lucida - Another marigold family plant of South American descent, that I have grown before and I love love love the smell.
Schizonepeta - Schizonepeta tenuifolia - you might notice the nepeta, as in catnip, and this is a Japanese Catnip used in TCM. This is a very fragrant plant that apparently perfumes buildings when it is dry. This is used for tea re: cold and flu season.
Camphor Basil - Ocimum canum Sims var. Camphor - This is a camphory sweet basil that is used often as an insect repellent.
Tinda - B enincasa fisulosus - This is a northern India fruit/veggie that is like a green tomato watermelon that is used in curries. Can't wait to try it.
Hoary Skullcap - Scutellaria incana - This is a midwest native that is used as others are used, as a nervine. I grow 3 types of skullcap, so am happy to add another.
We are growing upland rice again, this time Loto, Hayayuki, and Zerawachanica. And, expanding the oats, sorghum, amaranth, flax, millet, and quinoa this year to grow more.
There are many more new varieties I have been happily purchasing all winter, in addition to the standards that I grow every year (mullein, elecampane, astragalus, ashwagandha, etc.). I'll share more as I start seeds!
So, keep an eye out for info on seedling and seed sales for this spring - with pickup on the farm here - it will be wonderful to be able to share plants that we rarely find in nurseries!
I am a certified aromatherapist, clinical herbalist, organic gardener, plant conservationist, photographer, writer, designer, artist, nature lover, permaculture designer, health justice activist, whole foods maker, and mother of two unschooled boys in south central Wisconsin.