Life of a Forest Farmer-in the Spring

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By Margaret Bloomquist, NC Alternative Crops and Organics Program, Department of Horticultural Science, NC State University on May 1, 2017.

Reviewed by Jeanine Davis on May 3, 2022.

The ups and down of the thermometer had us out in February, every week, checking beds for reemergence, germination, invasive sprouts ~ anything? Fast forward to March and we’re creating new beds for this seasons planting and propagating, but all too careful not to disturb the growth just beneath the surface for existing beds. There is much below the surface, must be… I planted seeds and transplanted rescued natives there for the past 5 years. There must be something poking their heads up soon… Right?!

Oh, the anticipation. The worry. The excitement.

Then….. Mid-March walks at 2,500 ft in Southern Appalachia, a couple bloodroot! Just a few with their brilliant white ephemeral flowers, the palm shaped leaf wraps its lobes snug around the blossom bud, and stem at emergence.

young plants emerging in the woods in April

Nettles! Trillium! Ramps!
looks like a trout lily emerging

Ramps! They’ve reseeded and bulbil led their way to spread the plots out even further. They smell – and taste – wonderful. When harvesting, take one leaf from each mature plant.

Lots of ramps
Satisfaction. Happiness. Conservation. New growth and a beautiful season ahead.
Fast forward to mid-April. There must be more bloodroot than the select few.
April early bloomers meet late spring bloomers… and seedlings!! This is the gold right here, ramp seeds planted 2 ½ years ago (fall), bloodroot seeded last year, May 2016 ~ germination. I think this will be a great bloodroot year after-all.
bloodroot seedlings
bloodroot seedling in a hand
ramp seedlings
Goldenseal transplanted out of season (July 2016 rescue), and ginseng unfolding beautifully (below).
Young goldenseal and ginseng emerging
Young goldenseal emerging
goldenseal unfurling its leaves
young ginseng and other plants in the woods
My heart, and forest plots are full.
Now for the dirty work.
Keep a lookout for our next Life as a Forest Farmer entry ~ Invasive Plants & Organizing Beautiful Chaos.
Please be in touch via for upcoming Woodland Stewards gatherings and opportunities for Beginning Forest Farmers in Western North Carolina.
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