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Most productive herbs to grow?  RSS feed

 
Steve Flanagan
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Location: North Fork, CA. USDA Zone 9a, Heat Zone 8, 37 degrees North, Sunset 7/9, elevation 2600 feet
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What are the most productive herbs to grow in the garden? I live in zone 9a in california. I would prefer these be what the chinese consider "food grade" herbs. Of course, any input or experience is much appreciated. Thank you!
 
Judith Browning
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Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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My most productive herb (and easiest to maintain) is Greek Oregano (Origanum vulgare hirtum) I started it from seed in wooden flats of my homemade potting soil...sifted compost, soil and sand. When the plants were a few inches tall I set them in mostly sunny permanent spots all over. Once established I've been able to harvest two or three times over the summer into fall for several years now. It is even better flavored dried...perfect in tomato sauces and all kinds of things.
 
James Slaughter
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Anything in the mint family is not only productive, it can be a weed. Lemon Balm, Peppermint, Vietnamese Mint (if you have the water). If you are a bit dry then any of the mediterranean herbs will be a lot easier (virtually plant and forget, especially after the first season or two) - Rosemary, Oregano / Marjoram, Sage, Thyme, Fennel. If you want seasonal type, harvest once kind of herbs, then nothing really beats flat leaf parsley and coriander (cilantro), Amaranth with edible leaves and seed are also very hardy.
 
tel jetson
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really depends on what your goals are. also depends on how you define "herb". there are plenty of very productive woody plants used in herbal medicine, though they aren't botanically herbaceous.
 
Steve Flanagan
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Posts: 324
Location: North Fork, CA. USDA Zone 9a, Heat Zone 8, 37 degrees North, Sunset 7/9, elevation 2600 feet
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By herb, I am referring to herbal medicine. Although, culinary herbs are something I want to grow too.
I would like to start with herbs where I can harvest the medicinal parts without killing the plant. I would like to be able to make tinctures, teas, and salves for my family and friends. IF I have enough production maybe trade or sell dried herbs.

Tel, what suggestions do you have?

Any input is appreciated, and feel free to ask me any questions regarding this.

Thank you.
 
tel jetson
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Location: woodland, washington
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well, that's a bit more to go on, but you're still leaving it pretty wide open. that makes specific suggestions difficult, but that's alright.

one useful, productive, and easy herb is comfrey. plenty of enthusiasm for that one among the permaculture crowd. it stimulates cell proliferation, so it's good for helping minor scrapes and cuts heal. also good for sprains and bruises, which are pretty much inevitable sooner or later. easy to harvest, and damn near impossible to damage by doing so.

also inevitable for roughly half the population: menstruation. cramp bark (Viburnum opulus) is a great herb (though actually a medium-size woody bush) for that. it needs a few years to establish, after which branches can be harvested for bark in spring without setting the plant back too much. this plant is also called highbush cranberry, as it produces a tart edible fruit. there are some varieties selected for fruit production, so it should be possible to use the same plant for medicine and food.

stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) is another easy one, at least where I live. the leaves of young plants are a good spring tonic, and can be used roughly like spinach, though I wouldn't recommend eating them raw. as the plant grows, it concentrates silica and shouldn't be eaten, but can still be used for tea. roots are good prostate medicine.

raspberry leaf is also great for the ladies, and can be harvested from the same plants used for fruit.

tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum) is easy, makes delicious tea, and it's a great adaptogen. one of those you might want to be careful with, or you might end up living forever.

those are a few that come to mind. really, though, there is a great abundance to choose from. you might start with what sort of medicine you would like to have for your family and go from there. I'm partial to Richo Cech and Michael Moore for reference material, but there are plenty of other knowledgeable authors to choose from.
 
Judith Browning
Posts: 5910
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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Some culinary herbs are also medicinal, both oregano and rosemary for example.
 
Steve Flanagan
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Posts: 324
Location: North Fork, CA. USDA Zone 9a, Heat Zone 8, 37 degrees North, Sunset 7/9, elevation 2600 feet
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Thanks for the replies so far.
Ideally I would like to grow preventative medicinal herbs, adaptogens if possible, tonics, nervines and herbs for asthma, colds, and flu.

When I wrote my follow up response yesterday I was pretty exhausted so I didn't include as much detail as I should have...

My wife and I moved onto our property a little over a year ago. Already growing on the property are elderberry, yerba santa, buckthorn, calfornia bay laurel, foothill pine, and white and live oak. The former owners only planted albizia and privet. Since we have been here I've planted a variety of plants, the ones I know that have herbal uses are poncirus, jujube, wolfberry, chaste tree, rosemary, and white mulberry. Although, I suppose all plants have some herbal uses...

I ordered some schisandra 'eastern prince' to plant in the shady areas under my oaks. With a smaller budget this year I do need to grow most of my medicinal annuals and perennials from seed. I am also wanting to save my seeds each year, so seeding or reseeding annual herbs would be nice.

I like the idea of stinging nettle and crampbark.

Thanks again for everyone's feedback. I would definitely like to here more.
 
Judith Browning
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Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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Without listing genus and species or uses a quick list of my medicine cabinet includes...catnip, self heal, scullcap, passion flower vine, calendula petals, anise hyssop, hyssop, feverfew, oregano, rose petals, lemon balm, lavender flowers (all dried) and fresh outside is echinacea and chickweed and comfrey and rosemary and golden seal. I used fresh elder berry leaves on a sprain this summer and usually make a syrup with the berries and ginger and clove and honey from our bees. On the window sill in the sun are calendula petals in safflower oil and comfrey leaf in olive oil and in the refrigerater are small jars of salve made from plantain, comfrey and chickweed. Everything is either cultivated here or harvested walking distance from our home. I just cant imagine a better "farmacy".
For us, this selection (along with a few essential oils) covers almost anything we've ever needed.
We have growing but haven't used yet...raspberry leaf, butterfly weed, vitex, white oak bark, st john's wort and more I'm sure.
 
Rick Roman
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Tarragon.... Can't live without it. For zone 9a try Mexican / Texas Tarragon (Tagetes lucida). Tarragon is an aesthetically pleasing plant and has many medicinal and culinary uses including tea, insect repellant inform of incense, yellow dye, dry flowers, etc.
Medicinal: cramps, promotes appetite, dewormer etc.
As a culinary herb try with shell fish like mussels and clams. Cream of mushroom tarragon soup or my favorite, egg salad.. Hard boiled eggs, greek yogurt, Dijon mustard, a little horseradish, s&p and fresh Mex. Tarragon.... Yum.
 
Steve Flanagan
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Posts: 324
Location: North Fork, CA. USDA Zone 9a, Heat Zone 8, 37 degrees North, Sunset 7/9, elevation 2600 feet
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Thanks!
I can't wait to start planting! still a few months away though...
 
tel jetson
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for asthma, lobelia and elecampane are often used together. both relatively easy to grow. lobelia is for low doses only, though, so make sure everybody knows what it is and what it looks like.

herbs to strengthen the liver are also used to help with asthma. really depends on the cause. burdock, mahonia, milk thistle. burdock is easy. milk thistle might be too easy. mahonia is slow, but easy once established and grows well in deep shade.
 
Adam Poddepie
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I know it's not necessarily an herb, but Aloe cactus is great for stings and bites. Plus, when you need it you can just snip off a piece and apply! Not great for all areas, but I grow some indoors without any trouble.

Also, I've seen rosemary on here a lot and I agree with that one. Very hearty, hard to kill, and I've harvested my plant a couple of times per year for the past several years.

Help dot com also recommended these 5, so I thought I'd pass it along. Best of luck in your endeavors!

http://herbgardens.about.com/od/herbalgardendesign/tp/HerbalistGarden.htm
 
Judith Browning
Posts: 5910
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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Steve Flanagan wrote:Thanks!
I can't wait to start planting! still a few months away though...


Maybe just a month off for starting some things from seed...I like to start a lot of herbs in january and february in wooden flats under four foot double shop lights in by my wood stove...when we get some early warm days I start setting the flats outside and bring them in at night until transplant time.
 
Steve Flanagan
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Posts: 324
Location: North Fork, CA. USDA Zone 9a, Heat Zone 8, 37 degrees North, Sunset 7/9, elevation 2600 feet
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Judith Browning wrote:
Steve Flanagan wrote:Thanks!
I can't wait to start planting! still a few months away though...


Maybe just a month off for starting some things from seed...I like to start a lot of herbs in january and february in wooden flats under four foot double shop lights in by my wood stove...when we get some early warm days I start setting the flats outside and bring them in at night until transplant time.


good idea.

 
Morgan Morrigan
Posts: 1400
Location: Verde Valley, AZ.
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star anise.
also used to make Tamiflu, the flu cure.

magnolia bark and cones.
used for keeping the intracellular pumps from going into high gear ,and pumping out other medicines, including chemo drugs.
also search for the new calcium/magnesium cell pumps studies, i think that is relevent to the same mechanism, but not sure.

http://www.whsc.emory.edu/press_releases2.cfm?announcement_id_seq=14964


Mushrooms.



 
Steve Flanagan
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Posts: 324
Location: North Fork, CA. USDA Zone 9a, Heat Zone 8, 37 degrees North, Sunset 7/9, elevation 2600 feet
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Thanks for the input. Morgan . Do you know which Magnolia species would be used?

I definitely want to grow Star Anise. Does anyone have any experience growing Star Anise? And know of any good sources to buy the plant?

 
Morgan Morrigan
Posts: 1400
Location: Verde Valley, AZ.
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Chinese medicine only uses officialnus.

all of the true ones work in the cell scheme, but TCM lists only as stomach remedy.

No idea on star anise, there was a huge shortage during the H1N1 scare. They sell full pods in chinatown, but they always seem to be toasted, and havn't had luck sprouting any.
 
Steve Flanagan
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Location: North Fork, CA. USDA Zone 9a, Heat Zone 8, 37 degrees North, Sunset 7/9, elevation 2600 feet
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After doing some research I think Magnolia officinalis is a great candidate to grow on my property.
 
David Hartley
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As stated, anything in the mint family... One of the best (imho) for many many reasons would be rosemary! Topically, internally, in the kitchen or in the medicine cabinet... And it is not "invasive" like many of the other mints.
 
Judith Browning
Posts: 5910
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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Steve Flanagan wrote:
Judith Browning wrote:
Steve Flanagan wrote:Thanks!
I can't wait to start planting! still a few months away though...


Maybe just a month off for starting some things from seed...I like to start a lot of herbs in january and february in wooden flats under four foot double shop lights in by my wood stove...when we get some early warm days I start setting the flats outside and bring them in at night until transplant time.


good idea.



If you have your seed you might want to start a few things...I have greek oregano and bronze fennel up and lovage and parsley planted all in our living room by the wood stove under shop lights. This way I will have plenty of starts for my spring plant exchange and I will be able to have more established plants to set out before the extreme heat here.
 
J W Richardson
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Location: Council, ID
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If you are in 9A you can grow a lot! Checkout Horizon Herbs, in Williams, OR. The website is full of information and has a fair amount of seeds for plants that are too tender for temperate climates. I am just getting into the Chinese nutritional medicine thing and am loving incorporating these tonic roots in soups and garlicy broth teas. I've just been cross referencing whatever I read about and finding information that way. I'm also looking at growing some of these for use and sale, as most of them are only available from China.

In general, plants that are natives of cold winter climates are difficult in warm winter areas, so not sure if Schisandra will work for you. For example, they are growing Rhodiola in Alaska, but it doesn't like it this far south, from what I see.

I noticed that ginger is mostly sourced from China, so that could be a market, also turmeric.

http://www.horizonherbs.com/
 
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