Tag Archives: herbal medicine

4 Unusual Perennials to Plant This Fall

We’ve discussed what to plant this fall quite a bit on this blog. You may have seen one of our last posts about great heirlooms for the fall garden and currently be sowing or transplanting radishes, carrots, beets, cabbages, and other crops into your plot. These traditional crops often make up the backbone of the fall garden and are a good part of any food storage you put up for winter. At SESE, we also ship out some perennial plants each fall. Similar to many flower bulbs, these plants do best when planted in the autumn before your first frost.

All of these plants ship in the fall and include planting instructions. None of this information is meant to diagnose or treat any condition.

 

Goldenseal

Once common throughout eastern woodlands, goldenseal is now believed to be one of the most at-risk medicinal plants in the United States and is believed to be at high risk of extinction in many parts of its range. 

Goldenseal’s decline is largely caused by over-harvesting and habitat destruction and is on the Appendix 2 list of the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species). When you plant goldenseal in your woodlands, you’re helping to ensure this specie’s long-term survival. 

Historically, herbalists have used goldenseal to treat various ailments especially inflamed mucous membranes. It was used in gargles for sore throats, topically to treat skin irritations and infections, as an eyewash, and internally to treat UTIs, ulcers, and digestive issues.

There’s also some evidence to suggest that goldenseal has a high resistance to fungal pathogens and may help reduce disease spread in forest settings. Ginseng growers will often include it in their plantings for this reason. 

In the wild, goldenseal grows on forest slopes, open woodlands, and along streams. Plant goldenseal rhizomes in the fall in a spot that receives about 75% shade. A mature plant may be divided three to five times.

Ginseng

Like goldenseal, ginseng is disappearing from the woodlands of North America. For almost 300 years, it has been harvested and exported to Asia, often in significant quantities. One of America’s first millionaires, John Jacob Astor, made part of his fortune exporting ginseng

Herbalists highly favor wild ginseng over cultivated ginseng. Interestingly, wild ginseng shows exponentially higher levels of the compound ginsenoside, which is believed to have numerous medicinal benefits.

Traditionally, herbalists often used this plant as a “cure-all,” believing it helps the body adapt to stress. Many thought ginseng could treat various conditions, including depression, nausea, tumors, fatigue, diabetes, ulcers, and more. Read more about this herb before using it on your own.

Today, ginseng is on the Appendix 2 list of the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species), threatened by over-harvesting and habitat destruction. You can help ensure its survival by planting it in your woodlands.

Plant ginseng in the fall from seeds or roots. It thrives on northern-facing slopes in dense deciduous forest. You can harvest roots can after four to seven years. Growing in conjunction with goldenseal may help prevent disease issues.

Shallots

These perennial alliums add a bit of gourmet flair to any garden. Griselle or grey shallots are highly sought after by chefs, home cooks, and foodies. They have a distinctive rich, earthy smell and a mild, umami flavor. 

Plant shallots in the fall, like garlic. They’re easy to grow, low maintenance, and typically offer excellent yields. They produce best when you keep them weeded and watered during the spring and summer. Harvest when the tops fall over. 

Egyptian Walking Onions

Egyptian walking onions get their name from the unique way they reproduce. These onions develop bulblets on top of their stalk, which produce new, small stalks. Eventually, the bulblets and new stalks become so heavy that the onion top tips over, placing the sets against the ground and replanting themselves! The way they plant themselves gives them the appearance of walking across your garden. 

These incredible onions can be grown throughout North America, thriving in USDA zones 3 through 9. Not only are they fun to grow, but walking onions are also the ones you want if you always want to have onions. They tend not to produce much their first year, but after that will keep you in a steady supply.

Harvest bulbs in the fall and winter and harvest green onions selectively during their growing period. Plant them in an area you intend to keep them for a long time.

As gardeners, many enjoy adding another heirloom bean to our list of favorites or trying a different variety of tomatoes each year. As we try new crops, we learn and grow alongside our garden. These four unusual perennials are a great way to expand your skills as gardeners, seed savers, home cooks, and herbalists. 

Wellness Simplified! Herbalism From The Ground Up

We’re so excited to be able to carry one of our neighbor’s books! Krista and Skyler Rahm of Forrest Green Farm in Louisa County, Virginia, have just published Wellness Simplified! Herbalism From the Ground Up. Krista and Skyler designed this straightforward guide to help you connect with nature and learn to grow and use herbs in your everyday life. 

For context, I’m one of SESE’s writers and social media managers, and I had the pleasure of perusing a copy over the last week. Digging into herbalism can be tough and intimidating. I’ve dabbled in herbalism for several years and have read my fair share of herb books. Krista and Skyler have done and an incredible job of pulling together usable information in an easy-to-understand format for Wellness Simplified!. 

Gardening Basics

If you’ve read this blog often, you’ll know I believe that a productive garden starts with the soil. Krista and Skyler share my sentiments stating, “success in your garden relies on a healthy soil diet!” They’ve followed this up with crucial information about soil amendments, nutrients, and composting without sounding like a science textbook.

This first section provides several other essential gardening basics that we’re big fans of here on the SESE blog. Krista and Skyler cover the fundamentals of seed starting, transplanting, beneficial insects, companion planting, pest management, and even vermicomposting!

Herbal Preparations

From there, they delve right into harvesting and preserving herbs and recipes for herbal preparations. When you’re new to herbalism, understanding when to use different herbal preparations and even what they are can be challenging. I found this section especially helpful. 

The internet is full of herbal recipes. Bloggers will provide you with recipes for tinctures, elixirs, glycerites, and infusions, but unless you’ve taken an herbalism course, how do you know what those are, let alone how to use them appropriately. While a course may be great for those who can make the financial and time commitment, having a go-to guide on hand makes herbalism more accessible.

Krista and Skyler also provide an informative section on formulating, guiding you to go further than following others’ recipes on your herbalism journey. They’ve included a list of things to consider, like family history, dieting and eating habits, emotional feelings, and more, plus a step-by-step guide to creating a formula.

Wellness Simplified! Hibiscus Plant Profile (Photo from Forrest Green Farm)

Plant Profiles

Many herbal books offer “plant profiles,” a quick overview and historical use of herbs with no practical information. History is fun and sometimes contains valuable lessons, but it isn’t what I’m looking for in a modern herbal. Knowing that folks used fennel to ward off evil spirits in the past is great, but I want to know what I can use it for today.

The profiles in Wellness Simplified! offer the information you need to incorporate each herb into your practice. Learn how to identify, grow, harvest, and use 127 herbs from the humble lemon balm to the tropical moringa. The index in the back of the book will even help you locate plants by the problem they can treat. For example, search the index for dandruff and be taken to the page for Oregon grape!

Wellness Simplified! will be a great reference on my shelf for years to come. It’s packed with clear-cut, step-by-step information that you need to grow and use herbs. Grab the book here on the SESE shop, and check out Forrest Green Farm

Getting Started with Herbalism

Herbalism can seem like a beautiful way to connect with nature and work on your wellness, but it can also be daunting and mysterious. How do people become herbalists? Where do you go to learn to grow and use herbs? Getting started with herbalism can feel overwhelming, but there are plenty of free ways you can get started with herbalism this summer. 

Here are some of my favorite herbal resources for growing herbs, preserving herbs, crafting herbal teas and tinctures, and everything in between.

A reminder that we’re not medical professionals, and none of this information is meant to diagnose or treat a medical condition.

Read, read, read.

There are so many cheap or free resources to help you get started learning about herbalism. I highly recommend reading as much as you can before investing in a class. Blogs, articles, and books are a great way to find information about growing and using herbs. Here are some of our articles on herbalism and our favorite books and other resources.

SESE Blogs
Blogs
Books
Free Materials

You may also want to check in with your local library! They probably already have or can get local field guides and books on herbalism, foraging, and wildcrafting through interlibrary loans. herb garden (herbalism)

Start an herb garden.

The best way to learn about plants is to grow them. Check out our article, Beginners Medicine Garden. Start your medicinal herb garden with helpful herbs like lemon balm, garlic, chamomile, calendula, and echinacea. Growing these and other plants will allow you to experiment with them as you learn and grow. 

Take a class.

Classes are great for several reasons. They often go more in-depth about actually putting your herbs to use. They also allow you to connect with teachers and other budding herbalists. Additionally, they can offer a sense of accountability on your learning journey. You can’t just keep putting off reading that chapter if you’re working through a scheduled class. 

A quick note about herbalism courses: be aware that there is no federal or state-recognized herbal certification in the United States. Having certificates from different schools or courses can aid you on your herbal journey, but you don’t need to be a certified or master herbalist to practice herbalism. Nor does one of these certificates qualify you to give medical advice.

Free options
  • Handcrafted Herbalism Mini-Course from The Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine
  • Micheal Moore’s Online Lectures
Other classes, workshops, and apprenticeships
  • Online Herbal Immersion Program from The Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine (check their others too)
  • The Indigi Golden Herbal Academy 12 Month Herbal Apprenticeship for Indigenous and Indigenous Reclaiming BBIPOC Folx
  • Introductory Herbal Course from The Herbal Academy

Be careful about social media.

Social media can be a wonderful place to learn more about herbalism and get inspired by others’ gardens, recipes, and projects. However, it can also have some negative impacts. 

First, know that not everyone is careful about the information they share. Always double-check that plants and recipes are safe with a trusted before using them on yourselves or others.

Also, be aware of the human tendency to compare ourselves to others. There are some absolutely stunning herbal Instagram accounts, but know that aesthetics aren’t the most important thing about herbalism. Your garden doesn’t have to be a perfect, weed-free spiral, your teas and tinctures don’t need to be in the cutest mugs and containers, and you don’t have to have a space in your home solely dedicated to your herbal practice. It’s fine to be inspired, but it’s also important to remember that none of these things make you an herbalist.

Support other herbalists.

It would be great if we all had the time and energy to grow and craft all the herbal remedies we needed. Unfortunately, for most people, that’s not possible. Whether you can’t produce that ingredient you want because of your zone or don’t have time to make your own tincture, it’s okay to purchase herbal remedies. Just make sure you do so responsibly.

Support small, local herbalists. Look for people who care about their communities and the land. You may even find local farms that grow some herbs you’re looking for at a farmer’s market. Avoid big corporations that are looking to capitalize on your desire for wellness. 

We encourage you to get started with herbalism. While it cannot replace modern medicine, it can be an important part of your wellness routine. It’s also a great way to connect with the land and is a lot easier than you might think. Did we miss any of your favorite resources? Let us know on Facebook or Instagram!