We are a short 3 weeks away from spring and with it comes the return of the green landscape for many. On this year long journey of getting to know your herbal ally, watching your ally's life cycle is a wonderful way to become intimately familiar with your ally.
While you may have your ally growing in your garden or nearby in the yard, woods or another wild area, do you really know what the sprouts of your ally look like? This challenge is a way to really get to know your ally from his birth.
If you are unsure about how to grow your ally, research through various resources to find out growing instructions. There are many wonderful books on growing plants out there and most seed packets will come with instructions on the best way to start your seeds.
Planting the Future: Saving Our Medicinal Herbs by Rosemary Gladstar http://books.google.com/books?id=ndk42wxMBzUC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Planting+the+Future:+Saving+Our+Medicinal+Herbs&hl=en&src=bmrr&ei=pKVqTbLdLYH_8AbP0J3gCw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CDAQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false)
The Medicinal Herb Grower - Volume I by Richo Cech http://www.horizonherbs.com/product.asp?specific=2319
Often herbal seed companies list great growing instructions. Try finding your herb at one of these sites:
If you haven't purchased your seeds yet, now's the time to do it! Thyme Garden, Horizon Herbs, Richters and Johnny's are all great sources to purchase your seeds. I have purchased from all in the past and have been happy with the results.
Start your seeds. You don't need an elaborate greenhouse or set up to get started, a simple clay pot will do. If you have compost, use that to fill your pot, if not either dig up some nice soil from your own garden or go to a local garden center and pick up a bag of compost mix. You may wish to mix that with sand, peat or other mediums based on your plant's needs.
Watch for your seeds to sprout, which should happen in about 7-10 days or longer depending on your ally. As they start to sprout, pay attention to the size, shape, color and height of your sprouts. Sketch them daily in your notebook, observing any physical changes that occur over the course of days. Be sure to list:
1. size, color and shape of cotyledon leaves
2. size of emerging sprout
3. height of sprout
4. how many days it takes for true leaves to appear
5. what true leaves look like and how they differ or are the same as the mature leaves that appear later
6. list any similarities or differences to the plant as you know it as a mature plant
7. record anything that will remind you of what the sprout looks like so you can find it in the future
This exercise may take a few weeks or more to complete. Try to sketch it every day in the beginning as you notice changes and every 2-3 days as the plant grows larger and changes in appearance or starts to bloom.
If you have your ally growing in your yard, be sure to observe any growth that has occurred. If you have newly emerging growth, compare and contrast this growth with your seedlings.
How are your previous challenges going? Have you tested your vinegar(s) and tincture(s) lately? They should be getting pretty strong now. We will be revisiting them soon!