September 10, 2017
There are a lot of resources on herb growing on the internet but less so in print. Here are the best books I have found on the topic. They are all in my library and I consult all of them.
Herbal Harvest: Commercial Organic Production of Quality Dried Herbs.
Greg Whitten, 1999, Blooming Books, Hawthorn, Victoria. Australia. 556 pages.
Whitten’s herb farming experience is from Tasmania. We owe a debt of gratitude to Greg for sharing his herb growing experience. This is a big book packed with useful information. The book is little known in the United States. Hard to obtain. I recommend it highly.
Organic Medicinal Herb Growing.
By Jeff and Melanie Carpenter, Zack Woods Herb Farm. Hyde Park, Vermont. 2015. The single, best book on the topic written from an American perspective. Easy to obtain. Every herb grower and would-be herb grower should read it.
The Chinese Medicinal Herb Farm. A Cultivator’s Guide to Small-Scale Organic Herb Production. Peg Schafer. 2011. Chelsea Green Press. 312 pages. One of the only books on the topic written from an organic, US perspective from a California farmer. Valuable.
Growing 101 Herbs That Heal
Tammi Hartung. 2000. A commercial viewpoint from a Colorado grower.
by Richo Cech, Horizon Herbs, Williams, Oregon, 2002. The 2nd edition is now available from Strictly Medicinal Seeds for $24.95 plus shipping.
The Medicinal Herb Grower: A Guide for Cultivating Plants that Heal.
by Richo Cech, Horizon Herbs, Williams, Oregon, 2002. 159 pages. General growng information. He does not give a species by species list. Useful nonetheless. Horizon Herbs is now Strictly Medicinal seed company. Self published. The bindings on all his books go bad very quickly (if you use them).
Medicinal Herbs in the Garden, Field and Marketplace. Lee Sturdivant and Tim Blakley. 1999. San Juan Naturals, Friday Harbor, Washington. 323 pages. Small farm and business opportunities for herb growers in North America. Gives growing information, yields and prices. The price information is outdated but there is lots of good info for herb growers. They cover 75 of the main herbs.
Cultivation of Medicinal and Aromatic Crops. A.A. Farooqi and B.S. Sreeramu. 2001. Universities Press, Hyderabad, India. 518 pages. 36 of India’s most important herb crops and 27 crops for essential oils. History, Importance, Present Status and Future Prospects of Medicinal Crops. Based on commercial herb farming in India. Subtropical to temperate species. Practical info on soil, climate, land preparation, cultivation, planting, manuring, irrigation, interculture, mulching, pests and disease control (mostly chemical pesticides), harvesting, drying and yield. Helpful book for farmers.
55 Chinese Herbs to Cultivate in the Pacific West. By Prasert Ngamsiripol and Mercy Yule, Seattle, WA, NorthWest Asian Medicinal Herb Network, 2015.
Covers a lot of the Asian herbs not covered in “The Chinese Medicinal Herb Farm”.
Good herb specific growing and harvesting information but typically only provides less than 1 page of information per herb.
Other useful herb books
The Encyclopedia of Herbs & Their Uses. Deni Bown. Dorling Kindersley, London. Revised edition 2001. 389 pages, large format. This is my main herb reference. Over 1,000 herbs covered, worldwide. 1500 photos. The info is relatively abbreviated but for each species she covers cultivation, propagation, harvest times (hard info to come by), hardiness, parts used, properties and medicinal uses. Very good information. I’ve rarely, if ever, found any of her information that was suspect. This book has been published under a number of titles.
Medicinal Plants of the World. Ben-Erik van Wyk and Michael Wink. 2004. Timber Press. 480 pages. Tropical to temperate. A huge compendium of species. Color photos of all species. Description, origin, parts used, uses and properties, preparation and dosage, active ingredients, pharmacological effects, and notes. It gives the common names in Chinese, English, French, German, Spanish, and Italian.
Western Medicinal Plants and Herbs. Steven Foster and Christopher Hobbs. A Peterson Field Guide. 2002. Mainly ID, a bit on uses and warnings. The main value of this book is it is a great, comprehensive checklist to find out what is medicinal. They don’t leave many things out.
Fruits & Nuts: A comprehensive guide to the cultivation, uses and health benefits of over 300 food-producing plants. Susanna Lyle. Tropical to temperate but weighted to the temperate. 2006. Timber Press. 480 pages, large format. A real coffee-table book. Particularly exciting is that they give the health benefits of each tree and shrub. A major reference on fruits. A great reference is you want to grow trees and shrubs that have both edible and medicinal products. Gives good info on propagation growing, etc.
American Medicinal Plants
Chrales Millspaugh. This is a 1974 Dover reprint of an 1892 publication. Although this is an old book, I like to consult it when researching American herbs.