We do not use synthetic-pesticides or -manure. Deweeding , the management of plants which grow in the wrong place, and at the wrong time, acquires the majority of the time and energy spent in the cultivation of medicinal plants.
As early as possible in spring a ‘false’ seedbed is prepared to start the germination of weeds and enable the subsequent harrowing. Also at this early stage the exact placement of the herb-beds is determined by way of the tracks of the tractor. So herbs are planted/sown in uncompacted soil.
Seeding and planting
The large diversity in species like annual-, 2-, 3-years and perennial plants results in different ways of establishing a culture. Some are sown directly e.g. red coneflower and marigold, others need careful sowing in a greenhouse. These plants, like st. john's wort, are sown in trays filled with an organic potting-mix. The seeds are supplied by several companies and if available, organic seed is used or otherwise non-chemically treated seed. We also harvest our own seed e.g. from three echinacea species, valerian, grindelia, verbascum and astragalus.
Depending on the strength and height of the crop, different methods are used to keep the crop clean of weeds. Harrows and a weedburner are used before the crop has emerged above the soil surface. Later a tractor-driven hoe is used often in combination with a longteeth harrow. Sometimes even a one-wheel hoe with discs instead of knifes is applied at each crop row to accurately deweed. Mulch is applied around trees and shrubs e.g. ginkgo, hawthorn and hamamelis.
Tender crops are harvested by hand e.g. lavender, st john's wort, marigold flowers and hawthorn berries. The larger areas with crops such as red coneflower, hyssop and feverfew, are harvested mechanically.This can be as a whole herb (harvesting machine cuts and harvests), ready bound sheaves (using a selfbinder machine) or as a finely cut crop (shredder-type harvester) to enable quick processing into extracts.