French Shallot, Baikal Scullcap, Ashwaganda, St Johnswort, Lemonbalm, Feverfew, Valerian, Scullcap, Motherwort, Pyrethrum
Answered by: Inge Poot
Question from: Ingrid Gaida
Posted on: December 20, 1999

We are located 20 km south of Owen Sound, Ontario, Canada. Which zone is that?

You are right on the border between zone 4 and 5.

Can I plant French shallot seeds directly in the ground as soon as the ground can be worked and harvest good-sized bulbs the same year?

It may not give enough time to grow bulbs large enough to survive the winter indoors and certainly not enough time to give a reasonable harvest. The seeds should be started indoors in February for a same year harvest.

What is the yield of bulbs from 10 gram of seed?

You should get about 2000 bulbs, since the seeds has about 85 % germination and there are 280 seeds per gram of seed.

How much yield can I expect from Baikal scullcap?

So sorry, but we have no data on that. We do know that there are about 550 seeds per gram of seed and the seed has moderate germination.

Fron ashwaganda?

Also no data, but there are 430 to 700 seeds per gram of seed and the seed has excellent germination.

I have ordered St Johnswort, lemonbalm, feverfew, valerian, scullcap, motherwort and pyrethrum seeds which will take up 150 plug trays (=30,000 plants). I do not have a greenhouse and have only limited space in our home to grow seeds in 150 plug trays.

If I would provide a cold frame with an insulated bottom of hay bales, a heating cable and doubled-up plastic film for these trays outside in a sheltered location, would that work?

I think that the bales of hay would have to be on top of the frames to do any good. For the base you would be better off to add a thick layer of fresh manure with horse manure being the hottest. Without some better cover, I do not think that your seedlings would survive January and February freezes. The heating cable will help, but if there is a power outage - not unheard of during the winter- your plants would freeze to death.

Or is it better to plant the seeds directly into the field after it has been well cultivated?

All of the plants you mention have very small seed and would have very high mortality if planted directly into the field. Also the short season remaining in your zone may result in a very poor harvest. We do not recommend it.

Can I still have a harvest the same year?

Valerian is not harvested until the second year, but with most perennials the first year harvest is non-existant to very poor, unless the plants are started early indoors.

I am growing my plants organically, but to get the organic certification for the 2.5 acres I am going to work with, I would have to wait 3 years "in transition". Which herbicide is the "safest" to keep weeds and grasses down?

The only organic weed killer available that works on SOME weeds is a soap based one available from Safers. Unfortunately it is so expensive that it is not economical for field use. The best bet is still the old-fashioned method of letting a field lie fallow in rotation, planting it with a green manure crop such as a grain or alfalfa and plowing it down two or three times per year. This eventually gets rid of any weed.

The safest non-organic weed killer is Round-up, but it would destroy your organic certification.

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