Winterberry Farm Primitives

This blog is now devoted to gardening with native plants with a focus on those species native to the east coast of the United States. With an MS in Agricultural Science from the University of Delaware and my love of native plants, I hope to help folks see the beauty and necessity of using native plants in your garden instead of exotic plants. Did you know that our native song birds and native insects are disappearing as our local environments continue to change?
For those who come to this page to see my 'Winterberry Farm Primitives' blog can now be found at where I will post new additions to my online antiques shop at and discuss various subjects about primitive antiques.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Research, Research, Research and a great old jug!

Time flies when you are buried under with research! Half of my research rhizomes came in and I am working to get them tagged, weighed and placed in the hydroponic troughs as quickly as possible!
Hi everyone!
I can't believe it has been 10 days since my last post! It has been crazy here in 'research world' and it is just beginning! I have half of my research plants and I am waiting for the second half to come in so the entire experiment can begin. I have 1280 rhizomes that must go into their troughs and pots within the next 2 weeks and it is crazy time! The rhizomes must be cut, weighed, tagged and placed in their respective positions as quickly as possible to reduce the possibility of any dessication or loss of fresh weight. After a week in a 5C refrigerator, where their metabolic processes are slowed down, they are put into their tagged spots for the experiment and then I can relax a bit and begin collecting data while waiting to see the results. The ultimate goal is to be able to produce rhizomes that would be considered 3-5 years old in about 2-3 months using vegetatively propagated 'rhizome pieces'. This is accomplished by cutting the rhizomes into sections with only one bud and ending up with rhizomes containing 6-9 buds in that 2-3 month period. The first small experiment blew away my initial hypothesis and I had rhizomes in the 2-3 month period of the experiment that, if grown in the wild, would be considered 8-9 year old plants. This then becomes a viable commercial plan to grow these plants quickly and under controlled conditions so 1.wild populations are preserved and 2.the important compounds in the rhizomes can be optimized. The rhizomes of Actaea racemosa (black cohosh) are now being studied as compounds that can combat and kill prostate and breast cancer cells in humans. This finding is beginning to endanger the wild populations of this wonderful native medicinal plant and anything that can save the wild populations while growing rhizomes for this important cancer work is something I want to be involved in and work on. The use of hydroponics in this work is something I came up with when I was the head scientist in charge of growing plants in hydroponics for a biotech company. I was responsible for not only growing all of the plants but for deciding what to grow and when. I was able to grow over 350 different species of plants, 98% of which had never been grown successfully in hydroponics. Unfortunately, the company began to implode with internal strife and eventually had to close, but my experiences there led me to this degree and the experiments I am working on now. Doing something that has never been done before is crazy and time consuming and a gamble but it is also fun and exciting. (The pic at the top of this post is of an Actaea racemosa plant in my backyard.)
As for the 'great old jug' in the title of this blog, I am taking the day off today to pick up an A.P. Donaghho jug that I put on layaway last month. I will post pics of this great old jug as soon as we get back!
More later today!!!!

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