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What crops are high $ yields?  RSS feed

 
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@ Marianne

I do agree with your point partly; when on your own ag land in many counties of Virginia, you do have a lot of freedom! A lot of the restrictions that may curb other efforts are typically easily (and legally) side stepped with minor creativity. Unlike where we last resided... Orange County, CA. No place is perfect...but, we are soooooo glad to say goodbye to government intrusiveness. (And, high taxes...talk about salt in the wound...but I digress!)
 
author
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honeyed roots (marshmallow, etc) are simple to make. harvest and wash your roots, fill a jar with them, sprinkle in a tiny bit of alcohol (everclear or vodka), and then pour in honey to cover. let steep a few weeks. then pull out the roots and pack them in small containers, covered with enough of the honey to keep air excluded. surplus honey from the original jar can then be used to make other herbal medicine syrups, like cough syrup. easy peasy.
 
steward
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I might've missed it mentioned in this thread, but ramps are a very valuable crop in Europe, and I think over your way too.
We would pay very good money for them in the restaurant business.
Wild asparagus and ramps were highly saught-after and very expensive.
Downsides would be a very short season (that's also a major selling-point for flash restaurants...)
I think they can be hard to naturalise though.
 
steward
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Ramps should do well in your region provided that you have a deciduous forest to plant them in.
They need the full sun in early spring, but need shade for the remainder of their lives.

Purdue University has done an interesting study on the commercial production of ramps.
It is well worth the read if you are considering their cultivation.
http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/ncnu02/v5-449.html

The best source of bulbs I have found (& they also have a book dedicated to ramp growing) is
http://www.rampfarm.com/catalog.htm

 
gardener
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Adam Klaus wrote:

Marianne Cooper wrote:With all of our fresh picked stuff, we still make the most $$ on the fruit honey and jams that we make.

\

what is fruit honey? sounds interesting and very marketable. [/quote

Adam - I came up with this 25 years ago when my youngest couldn't digest jelly or jam because of all of the processed sugars.
I use local raw honey - heat it (never boil) with stuff we grow like lavender & mint, chamomile & lavendar, blackberries, blues, rasp. or pecans. On the fruits & pecans, it's loaded with the fruit that's slowly "cooked" & infused together with spices etc., then canned up like a jam. You can stir it in yogurt, pour over meat like a glaze before cooking, use like jam, sweeten teas, top ice cream etc. pretty wonderful stuff and yes, very marketable. We also package our own teas like, white, chamomile & mint and offer "gift boxes" of the tea with an infused honey, which sells well.

 
pioneer
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Maybe have another one for you - samphire

Listed here at one seller for £16.00 per kilo. It is a cut and come again succulent that grows in brackish esturies and marshes. Looks like it can be propagated from seed and just needs a little sea salt in its water.

I've eaten it a few times, usually served as a garnish with fish in restaurants.
 
Adam Klaus
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thanks Marianne, I make similar honeys for teas as well. I like the idea of branching out into fruit flavored honeys also. Do you have any pics of how you package your tea/honey combos? I have been trying to do this same thing.
 
Cortland Satsuma
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Great stuff!

I love everyone's kindness to dig over their own resources of information and come up with some great options for us to investigate further! Lets see...

@Adam: Marshmallow honey root... Ahh! Very similar to home herbal remedies we made in Hawaii when growing up. (Various beneficial fruit or herbs packed in qt canning jar then topped in raw honey and placed on roof to age a week or two). On your candy, does sun heat curing help / hurt; and if, cold cured, does a specific temperature range matter?

@Micheal: Samphire... I confess my utter ignorance! I will look into it further. I have an adjacent boggy area in a no man's land; I may be able to utilize it and add some of my natural salt (bought in bulk, san francisco salt co) to raise it for as long as the area remains unused. I do not think I could add it to my actual food forest area, as the salt would leach to plants not so happy with it!

@Leila and John: Ramps... I have never grown them. We do have a portion of our forests as deciduous; so it has existing habitation here that is already conducive for its propagation; and, part of those are in our wild forest garden area. That means we could establish it now and add it into the sun catch-u food forest garden when it has matured adequately to provide a good ramps enviroment.

@Marriane: Honey Jam... That is interesting. Again, as a kid, we canned all jelly with raw honey (mom was quasi hippy; boycotted everything); what you are doing is a bit different; sounds more like a honey chutney...sounds awesome!

@Bob: Ginseng and Shallots... I will be ordering the seeds for starting next season. Excellent zone 7b-8a suggestions. Also, your added value of dried smoked onions and garlic will be considered after we get a smoke house / solar deydrator built.


Off topic (added value, packaging)... @Marianne: Have you branched into the mint wine yet? Our mint is doing awesome! I started with 3 standard herb pot plants over a year ago and now have an expanding 1/8th acre!

 
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It strikes me that its hard to beat blueberries, as they are popular yet still something that commands a premium price. Your zone should allow you to grow the rabbiteye varieties (http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/438/438-103/438-103.html), which I grew up planting and picking in NE Alabama. Plus they like acidic soil and pine trees. We put in roughly 200 plants and once established, gave them some drip irrigation and they returned bumper crop year on year that made the grocery variety seem paltry. Never had any disease problems and they produced more than the birds could make a dent in. The cuttings could also be rooted for sale - the local Wholefoods sells potted blueberry plants @ $16.99.

Styrian pumpkins produce a seed that does not need hulling. Not sure what their production is like. Pumpkin seeds retail at about $7/lb at Wholefoods.

And don't forget your vines. Kiwi, muscadines, and scuppernongs might be a viable niche.
 
Cortland Satsuma
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@John: Ramps ...

Thank you for the starting point links, very helpful! Some initial investigating shows it as a real potential for us. I like the fact it is a very early season harvest; spacing harvests throughout the year is not always easy. I also like how it looks as a border plant; aesthetics is important to our site plans. The company is out of seeds, but does have the bulbs. I do not have adequate information on their marketibility; however, they have enough pluses to add to either our 75% mix or our 25% mix!
 
Cortland Satsuma
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@JD: Bluets, Styrian pumpkins, Kiwi, muscadines, and scuppernongs... Some definite additions!

Bluets you are correct! We actually found wild ones growing under a section of our pines (poor cropping due to the birds) which we are moving to a section that will not end up as bird food. The cultivars (rabbiteye included) are definitely already written on the grid.

Styrian, need to research this variety. Pumpkins are already in our 75% list (I have grown them for years, and always sell the seeds seasoned and roasted).


Lost all our young kiwi last year. We will start again when we know what went wrong and how to prevent a repeat. We see this as a 75% species as they tend to sell at fairly low prices.

Muscadines...definitely!

Scuppernongs...Hmm; I have no idea will research further. Update...In the same family as the Muscadines, I have heard of them prior and forgot. While I am most recently from CA; we did not have a location suited for grape growing; nor did I grow them in Hawaii, had grapes pre planted and thriving in Turkey, did not know the names. Our property here has come with a few pre planted grapes; so we already plotted out a few areas for grape growing. We placed them in our 75% composition; it would be great if the cultivars we chose will slide over to the 25% species selection.

 
Marianne Cicala
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here ya go Adam.
027.JPG
[Thumbnail for 027.JPG]
 
Marianne Cicala
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Cortland - MINT WINE? you have my undivided attention. yes, I have that stuff everywhere as I plugged a hill leading to the river after we had cleared some trees to quickly stop any erosion - boy did it ever~
btw - on your kiwi, you need to have a male and a female plant to produce. same genus is fine, but gender has to be different.
 
Cortland Satsuma
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@Marianne: Kiwi... Yes, we had friends who years ago left CA for New Zealand and had a commercial kiwi farm...had one male the other three females...ALL died.

MINT WINE: You mean I have something in our marketing mix you have not dabbled in?!? I am shocked...You have it so well covered! Unfortunately, I can not take credit for it, lol. Found the concept in a book by "Nan K. Chase"... one of the few reasons I did not return said book since in my opinion it did not merit publishing. The mint wine recipe she took from "Folk wines, cordials, & brandies by Jorendorf"; a book I would like to obtain! It is made from lots of mint, water, sugar (honey subs. maybe for a mead), and a packet of yeast. It takes 2-3 months to be clarified for bottling. As the annual festival of the grape is held with in walking distance of us; it seemed like a great idea to introduce folk wines there. I would post the full instructions here; however, I do not want to violate any copy rights that either author has. I bet a search on allrecipes site or similar location will turn up an example version. Since most who grow mint have it in a bountiful supply, finding new avenues for it is always a plus!
 
Marianne Cicala
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Probably shock of the temp. extremes and humidity in our nutty weather that did them in. There's a guy not too far from me that raises nothing but kiwis - I'll check on this, for the fall. Found the book, used on Amazon for $15.00. very interested. Love this link - plenty of new to me stuff thanks Cortland for doing this.
 
Cortland Satsuma
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@Marianne

You are welcome! Thank you for planning to check on the kiwis; we bought ours from the great big greenhouse, midlothian. They may not have been raised locally as we had thought; and, last summer was rather bad. I am still not sure if the roots died off from weather / soil conditions or from pestilence. Good to hear the book is back in stock; I had not looked for it in a while.
 
Cortland Satsuma
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To everyone:

Since our idea seems to be gaining some momentum; I thought I would post a list of some of our high end 75% crops (The list is from someone else, but has several items we have in our plan)

Vegetable USD Value/SF
Cilantro $ 21.20
Arugula-Roquette $ 20.92
Green Salad Mix $ 17.55
Chives $ 16.40
Dill $ 16.40
Lettuce $ 16.20
Tomato, Cherry, small & medium $ 15.57
Turnip $ 9.90
 
Marianne Cicala
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Let me know how your cilantro goes - I've thrown in the towel except for spring or fall enjoyment as this heat causes it to bolt and all you'll end up with are coriander seeds. I tried sowing every couple weeks but it ate up too much space. UGH!
 
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Recipes arn't subject to any IP protection,nso you could post that Mint Wine recipe worry free.
 
Cortland Satsuma
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@Marianne: Cilantro... Yep, same here. I will try a cooler area next season and report back if I have any success.

@Logan: IP protection of recipes... I thought they were not protected; was not certain; and, I was going to be lazy and scan it in straight from the book; however, that is protected. So here it is:

MINT WINE

1 packet reg. yeast
7 lbs sugar
3 gal H2o
3 qts cleaned mint leaves w/o stems
1 qt sterile jar
1 sterilized carboy w/ sterile utensils
sterile bottles and tops as needed

Combine 1.5 cups warm water w/ yeast; set aside in warm place to froth.
Boil 3 gal H2o and sugar until dissolved into a syrup.
Bruise mint leaves and stuff in carboy.
Pour syrup into carboy; let stand until cooled down to warm.
Add yeast mixture ans swirl.
Seal with brewer's water trap.
Store in cool dark place for 2 - 3 months, until bubbles stop.
Siphon into sterile bottles; cap; and let rest a few weeks.
(Note: in book version it is six paragraphs long)
 
J D Horn
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Though it may not fit your shorter time frame, but b/c you are smack dab in the middle of hard apple cider country, is custom growing for a local distiller an option?

Some semi-local, small family nurseries you may already know about (though none seem to carry kiwi). The revival of the old southern appple varieties fascinate me, but I've not boughtanything from either of these vendors to know how good their trees are.
http://www.oldvaapples.com/index.html
http://www.centuryfarmorchards.com/
 
Cortland Satsuma
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@ JD


Great point! We had looked into the old southern apples; still thinking about it. We need to do more research to see if we could actually be profitable on a small scale, as we do not want to switch over to an apple only orchard. My step grandparents in Oregon had an apple orchard. The amount of land they had for profitable harvests was more than we have. However, we could still consider small run sold direct from the gardens and keep. I will need to run the numbers, it may be about the same as what specialty cultivars sell per lb, if so, I will be voting for work less!
 
Marianne Cicala
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Cortland,
You may want to explore Grimes Golden and Yellow Transparent apples. They are old apples around here, trees do incredibly well and harvest is May/June. Too many of the standard trees to end up making much profit - I only pay $15 per bushel for apples in the fall, and they deliver. Arkansaw Black and Pink Lady are also nice.
 
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Didn't read the replies, but I will as soon as I can. We didn't plant these things here, but right now our income comes from what was already growing here:

I make all these things into herbal products like infused oil, salves, face creams and extracts. It's my only real income

Rose petals and hips
chickweed
plantain
red clover
mondarda
goldenrod
Juniper oil
wild lettuce
horsetail
cleavers

next up tree resins
 
Adam Klaus
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Jamie- thanks for contributing to the thread.
I make monarda honey as part of my cough syrup. All the other plants you mention grow wild here on the farm. Would you mind elaborating a bit about the specific products you make from them?

I have been practicing herbal medicine for my family for years, but just this year have started selling herbal products at the local market with good success. I make skin salve, scar salve, throat tea, cough syrup, ear drops, eye wash, muscle balm, stomach soothe, and immune boost. I would be glad to share more details on any of these if you are interested.

great thread everybody! I am trying my first batch of smoked garlic as I type, inspired by this thread.
 
Cortland Satsuma
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@Marianne


Yes, Indeed! On our list to get for apples includes: Grimes golden, Arkansas Black (as you mentioned)

Others on our wish list:

Group A Pollinators - Oldenburg, Ergemont, Gravenstein, Liberty
Group B Pollinators - Greensleeves, Redfree, Cox, Golden russet,
Group C Pollinators - Braeburn, Ellison's, Tydeman's, Sundance, Gold rush, Baldwin, Macouri
Group D pollinators - Edward VII, Court Pendu, Mother, Roxbury
 
Cortland Satsuma
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@ Jamie &
@ Adam

Thank you for your excellent contributions to this thread!

I too am curious as to Jamies methods of cultivation; as we too, have a great deal on that list growing naturally also. Some of which we have been removing to plant other items from mostly our 75% group...would not want to be tossing 25% items out! (We are keeping them in smaller quantities currently; will make more of a point of it if we have over looked their full market potential.)

 
Jamie Jackson
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Marianne Cooper wrote:Let me know how your cilantro goes - I've thrown in the towel except for spring or fall enjoyment as this heat causes it to bolt and all you'll end up with are coriander seeds. I tried sowing every couple weeks but it ate up too much space. UGH!



MmmMmmmMmm coriander, nothing wrong with that!
 
Jamie Jackson
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Trying to get labels done tonight to be ready for market tomorrow. As soon as I'm done, I'll post what I do with each plant. Not everything is on our website, but a good deal of what I sell at the farmer's market is on this link and everything just grows here wild. Just made eczema rub tonight. We don't use any sprays and looked for property for 9 months before we found a place that had been dormant for so long the fencing is crumbling and long since grown into the trees. Sage is the only thing on the product list we planted. I've found oregano , thyme and rosemary grow great in this soil and next year we'll sell something using that as well.

I've found in our area fresh cut herbs do not sell. It's possible dried herbs do so we'll be rolling that out soon.

http://missouriherbs.com/products/

Thought of another good thing for the homestead someone may have mentioned. Hard to find local herbs, like for us that would be ginseng and cohosh. I think mushrooms would be a good crop too. It'll be years before our food forest or vineyard produce enough to do anything with and the local, wild stuff is helping us limp along.
 
Jamie Jackson
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Ok labels done. What we did and I'm sure most of you permies did, was to not remove any one plant completely. If there was a big patch of something, even if I didn't know what it was or what it was for, we left it. Every time we have not been disappointed. Even the plants I don't necessarily use for medicine now, are great pest traps or are improving the soil (like frost weed and cinquefoil). Of course part of creation is destruction and in order to get our fruit trees and hugle beds in something that was there had to go. But we never take out a big established patch of anything so far. We watch each plant carefully and just this year found out we have wild cumin, that's one of the top spices we buy and I have not been able to get "regular" cumin to grow here.

Once I figure out what a plant is, I do a lot of research into it's uses. If someone tells me it's not good for anything, then I"m even more determined to find out what it's good for. We've recently discovered St. John's wort too! I usually rely on the top herbalists websites and herbal books for this because for every "weed" you have growing on your property, there is a website to tell you how to kill it.

So for the plants that grow around here, we dry them for teas or spices. We are off grid and can't do mechanized drying. So I've rigged up covered screens in the shade and suspended on the outside of the north side of the barn under a covered area. I wilt some plants and make infused oils and then make salves or face creams out of those. Sometimes I put the plants in either vodka or brandy and make an extract. Though I've found extracts don't sell well in our area, so I've started using that in the salves and creams. For our area, very rural, mostly salves and creams sell.

I think if we had fruit it would sell like hotcakes and honey is also very popular at the market, though we don't sell it.
 
Jamie Jackson
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Cortland Satsuma wrote:@ Jamie &
@ Adam

Thank you for your excellent contributions to this thread!

I too am curious as to Jamies methods of cultivation; as we too, have a great deal on that list growing naturally also. Some of which we have been removing to plant other items from mostly our 75% group...would not want to be tossing 25% items out! (We are keeping them in smaller quantities currently; will make more of a point of it if we have over looked their full market potential.)



My method of cultivation is observe established patches that are there, find out what that plant needs and give it more of that if needed (like sunlight). Or just give it space and a wide berth. We had a tiny patch of monarda when we first came here. I took out some rose bushes that were near by and that's about it. We are pretty careful how we mow open spaces so that the wildflowers will come back. We mostly just mow pathways and take out saplings from areas we don't need any more trees in.
 
Marianne Cicala
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For our area, very rural, mostly salves and creams sell.


Jamie - also being in very rural east coast, I understand the challenges of breaking ground with "new" products. I sell quite a bit of "RUBS" packaged in Shenandoah Valley for grilling, bread dipping, fish etc. Maybe packaging them together would work for you, since it sounds like you have an incredible array. around here, people are all about grilling and spicing it up is a very welcome item. The only fresh herb we are able to market are basil and rosemary (we package a bundle of them as - you got it grilling skewers)
thanks for you info!!
 
Marianne Cicala
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I have been practicing herbal medicine for my family for years, but just this year have started selling herbal products at the local market with good success. I make skin salve, scar salve, throat tea, cough syrup, ear drops, eye wash, muscle balm, stomach soothe, and immune boost. I would be glad to share more details on any of these if you are interested.



yes please Adam - I'm very interested. Also hope to give smoke garlic a go this week-end. I saved some cherry & pear tree cuttings to smoke something and I liked that idea too.
thanks!!!
 
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I would add to Renata's suggestion that many of your crops can be rough-sold to those who specialize in finished-product foodstuffs. They tend to take more time and effort (and licensing for some), but the dollar value is much higher. Fermented black garlic, for example, is a high $$ gourmet item, and chefs are clamoring for it because the process takes over a month to create the complex flavor in the garlic. Hook yourself up with the right folks, and you will have some exclusivity, and money.

Sepp mentions that several of his pears are highly prized by the schnapps producers, and his taste the best and have the best flavor. The buyers send in their own people to harvest (which isn't easy as he doesn't prune his trees), and he gets a check. Never even has to visit the orchard. At this point, his fruit has such a reputation that he probably could command the market price easily.

If you don't want to involve (or over-involve as some of us do) yourself, always think in terms of being the lord of the land - anyone can benefit from your food abundance, as long as they pay a fair price for it, and you determine what that is. I love the control of managing a product from beginning to end, but it always costs me in terms of hassle and other tangible and non-tangible inputs. Delegation works best for me now, and I spend my time connecting the dots between the niche for the product and the buyer. Not getting huge checks yet, but building these relationships sometimes take time.

Oh yeah, and for ginseng, time is important. The ginseng that commands the highest prices (at least in Traditional Chinese Medicine) is always the oldest roots, hands down. The older a root, the more chi and potency it has. I don't know if you'll have the patience to wait for that type of harvest. Good luck to you!
 
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definitely got some good ideas going here.

my first thought is mushrooms, any kind of prized edible.
though i dont know your climate, i'm sure you could find some that like it there, and its a high dollar per pound, for small space, kind of food for sure.

actually thats also part of my *someday plan*

another, though it may seem too common i think its a good one -
garlic
and especially if you braid it....
its also extremely easy to grow as long as you give it fluffy loose soil, but it does best in some rich soil

and agreed about the value added products, that will greatly increase the amount of money you can make. i like the idea of making tea blends, also part of my *someday plan*

on kiwis, i have started kiwis from seed and it was extremely easy from a fresh kiwi. i got hundred + tiny kiwi plants from a couple of kiwis. They are sensitive to light, need light to germinate, so they must be surface sown or whatever method you use for seeds that need light to start. i put them in a bowl with water, and cover with saran wrap for about a week,in a sunny spot, then pour them onto ALREADY wet soil, so they stay on the surface of the soil.

fuzzy might not work for you at all (?not warm enough, not sure, but might be too cold in winter there to grow fuzzy kiwis), and the typical kiwis sold are generally fuzzy and generally "hayward" which is "deliciosa".

but if you could get a good hardy kiwi fruit from a grower or market, its actually quite easy to get a huge amount of little kiwi sprouts...though it does require patience cause they take a long time to sprout and grow extremely slowly at first..but eventually they take off and grow extremely fast.
 
Cortland Satsuma
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@ Jamie

Would love more details on how you are processing your profitable "weeds"! You have some great information to add to the mix, thank you.
 
Cortland Satsuma
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@Jennifer: Fermented Black Garlic...

That sounds interesting! As garlic will be guilded into everything on the property it could be moved from my 75% mix to the 25%. I wonder how difficult it is to prepare? Investing a month of prep time is not an issue to us. Any good links you can post? Thanks!


On the ginseng, you are quite correct. Planing to harvest after 5 years and closer to 10 is usually best. One would only harvest sooner if there was reason to believe there was imminent threat of pestilence destruction to the crop. Per our original question, 10 years for first harvest is acceptable. We just do not want to consider crops that should be willed, lol.



 
Cortland Satsuma
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@Leila

Thanks for the idea on the kiwis! I will hunt down some hardy ones grown locally! I may be able to find them at the farmers market in richmond that Marianne mentioned prior. We are definitely doing dried herbs (medicinal, spice, and teas). We are always interested in specific species that are valuable and grow in zone 7-8.
 
Jamie Jackson
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Cortland Satsuma wrote:@ Jamie

Would love more details on how you are processing your profitable "weeds"! You have some great information to add to the mix, thank you.



Not sure what other info you are looking for? I infuse in oil, make salves and extracts and such. Not much more to tell. If you are looking for recipes, get Rosemary Gladstar's book Herbal recipes. Just keep in mind if you are going to sell creams, she doesn't use a preservative. Research natural ones. Right now I'm trying Monarda, but Rosalee uses cottonwood bud tincture. There are a million little details that I've just had to figure out along the way but big hint, BUY WATERPROOF LABELS. If you have specific questions, message me.
 
leila hamaya
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Cortland Satsuma wrote:@Leila

Thanks for the idea on the kiwis! I will hunt down some hardy ones grown locally! I may be able to find them at the farmers market in richmond that Marianne mentioned prior. We are definitely doing dried herbs (medicinal, spice, and teas). We are always interested in specific species that are valuable and grow in zone 7-8.



it may be possible for you to do fuzzy, i am not sure. if you are close to zone 8 you would be close to being able to do it... though i would imagine you have a nice summer.....like maybe if you grow a bunch and only a few adapt that would still be great, well you could try anyway =)

if you start from seed from a fruit it would only costs pennies for each plant.

but yeah definitely a hardy kiwi would like your climate better probably.....

i am also in zone 8, and am growing the fuzzy. i want to get some hardy kiwi too but havent found any except in nurseries for lots of money.
but someday i will probably have to splurge and get some nice hardy ones.
 
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