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Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)
Growing Conditions: Valerian likes to grow in partial shade but can tolerate growing in full sun in cooler climates. It loves fertile, moist, nitrogen-rich soil. Droughty conditions often stunt its growth and force the plant into early dormancy or worse. At KoruKai Herb Farm we make sure a decent layer of mulch is on the bed and water the area with a soaker hose on really hot days. A deep soak once a week throughout the dry, hot summer seems be the best for them.
Planting: Plant seedlings into your prepared garden bed with lots of compost and well-rotted manure. Space plants 35cm apart and mulch around the seedlings, Make sure the growing tips are above soil line and free of mulch to prevent rotting. Water well at planting time and then not until the dry summer arrives.
Medicinal uses: Valerian root is an effective and safe nervine sedative herb for most people. It is not habit forming as most narcotic sleep medications can be. Valerian is also useful as a mild anxiolytic (reduces anxiety) and antidepressant. It is one of the most popular and well-known herbal remedies in the Western world, which lends credence to speculation that most of us can use more sleep and less anxiety. Valerian is also reported to be an effective analgesic.
Harvesting: We have found that the most potent roots are harvested in early spring (end July / early August) of the second or third year of growth, before the roots start putting their energy into leaf and stalk formation. Autumn is often too early and the roots are not thick enough. The roots resemble masses of thick, fleshy linguine pasta at the time of harvest. Later in the growing season they are much thinner and much less potent.
We harvest the roots with a trenching spade and lift the whole root ball out of the soil for processing.
Processing and Drying: Soil can become compacted in the central crown of the valerian rhizomes where the rootlets begin to branch off. It is helpful to quarter the rhizomes before washing. The roots are relatively soft and can be chopped easily. Wash thoroughly and then chop the roots before drying. They dry with good airflow at 32 – 43 degrees Celsius in 3-4 days, longer if temperature is lower. Aim to get them dry within one week to prevent mould. Once fully dry (roots should snap when you break them and not bend) store in a paper in a dry place until needed. Can be stored for 2 years under optimum conditions (dry and cool) or turned into a tincture, which keeps for many years. Mill them in a food processor before using.
Herbal preparation: Internal use. Can be used as a tea (decoction) or turned into a tincture.
|Ingredients||life plant material to plant into your garden|