News from the herb field: October

Tuesday 11 October 2016

Our Wwoofers have left, and the autumn so far has been lovely - with a great Elder berry and Hawthorn berry harvest. Hear the latest from our herb field manager Sarah Weston.

Firstly, a big thank you to all of our wonderful wwoofers for all their hard work and help this year. For now, all of our wwoofers have left, but we will have some again in April 2017.

There is still lots of harvesting of the aerial parts of the plants happening at the moment. We had a great Elder berry harvest and hawthorn berry harvest this year.

The root harvesting will start at the end of October and go on through until February so get your fresh root orders in now so as not to be disappointed! Roots available will be Comfrey, Horseradish, Culvers root, Elecampane, Marshmallow, Pokeroot and Chinese Rhubarb (Rheum).

The root harvesting time is also a propagation time. When I harvest the roots I keep some aside to divide and make new beds from as this is slightly quicker then growing them from seed. All the root crops need to be in the ground for at least 3 years before we can harvest them.

It's also the time of year for seed collecting. We try to make the herb field as self-sufficient as possible so seed collecting every year is very important. I try to collect seed from everything we grow but occasionally I also buy some seed as sometimes it's good to get a new gene pool in or if some plants aren't doing very well then I like to try them again from new seed. I like to leave the seed heads not only for us to be able to collect them but also for the birds as they love them - especially the Elecampane.

There is of course still weeding to do and it's good to keep on top of it and now they aren't growing back as fast which is great! I will be pruning the Elders in the next couple of weeks, clearing all the annual beds and getting them ready for what will be planted into them next.