}

July 13, 2011

Organic Home-Grown Opium

PAPAVER SOMNIFERUM - PAEONIFLORUM GROUP IS A  SELECTION OF THE OPIUM POPPY WITH HIGHLY DOUBLE FLOWERS, IT IS ALSO SOMETIMES SOLD AS P. LACINIATUM - IT'S A STRIKING ANNUAL FOR THE JUNE AND JULY GARDEN WITH TALL STEMS AND BEAUTIFUL, TENDER FLOWERS THAT LOOK LIKE NOTHING ELSE ON EARTH.
 Morphine anyone? I've grown Opium poppies since I was a kid, but sadly, I never liked drugs, so apparently my crops are always wasted. Rarely seen in modern gardens, this poppy was a common heirloom plant in classic cottage borders at the turn of the century ( the 1899-1900 one, not the last one). The Opium Poppy has a long and rich history, with some historians tracing cultivation of the species back to 4000 BC, perhaps no other garden plant has such a history so important to medicine and trade. I always wondered where modern medicine gets its poppy grown morphine and codeine from, for I could not imagine vase fields of Papaver somniferum growing in Oregon for Morphine.

Most of the narcotic material used in modern medicine today comes from India and Turkey, where policies are established between the US government and those countries. Apparently Afghanistan is proposing a program where it may produce some medicinal opium similar to the deals struck with India and Turkey, with will help promote the economy in that country where the poppy is native. Regardless of what we all thinks about this plant and the politics related to it, there is hardly a plant more essential to human medicine than the this species of poppy.
THINKING THAT YOU MIGHT BE INTERESTED IN GROWING YOUR OWN HOME-GROW ORGANIC MORPHINE? THINK AGAIN - YOU WOULD NEED A FEW HUNDRED PLANTS, AND ENOUGH MONEY TO PAY FOR A VERY GOOD LAWYER. A FEW PLANTS IN A HOME GARDEN IS OK THOUGH, JUST DON'T PLANT AN ACRE OF IT AND THEN START HARVESTING IT.

 The buds and stems on P. somniferum are graceful and very tender. A strong breeze can cause an entire stand of seedlings to collapse, and a dog passing through the garden can ruin an entire bed with nothing stronger than a tail wag.

We has Chris Chadwell , of the Sino-Himalayan Plant Association staying with us again this past weekend, with his son Matthew who has just graduated college. We were planning our trip with him to the Himalaya next summer, and in the scramble and prep for  house guests, I forgot that our other good friend Kris Fenderson was hosting his biannual garden tour at his famous and fabulous garden in New Hampshire. The poppies reminded me first, because we had admired a bed of them there, when we were there two years ago. His single species with their pink, nodding buds remained in our minds.
PAPAVER SEEDS ARE INDEED THE SAME SEED YOU FIND ON YOUR BAGELS, ON ROLLS AND IN POPPY SEED MUFFINS. IT'S TRUE THAT EVEN A FEW SEEDS IN A MUFFIN CAN CAUSE YOU TO FAIL A DRUG TEST.

Sowing seed is easy, but P. somniferum is not an easy plant to grow, so I won't kid you. It prefers cool, damp springs and summers, and is absolutely despises being disturbed once seed is sown, sow thinly, directly into the garden  can careful thin once you see seedlings with true leaves. The broader the area you sow in, the better chance you will have in getting a good crop. This year I made the mistake of sowing seed along side a row of Kohlrabi, and by the time I realized the mistake, it was too late, so I just carefully looked for seedlings, and then pulled out the Kohlrabi. Sowing in a prepared bed is best, so that you can keep weeds at a minimum, and watering the tender seedlings is easier. Once you have plants, there will be plenty of self-sown seedlings, just be careful when weeding, the seedlings remain small for many weeks, but you will learn to identify them from the weeds. I prefer to pick the highly ornamental seed pods in the fall, and then sow the seed in early spring in lightly tilled soil. ( you can order seed like I did this year, from Thompson & Morgan).

1 comment :

  1. Anonymous6:23 AM

    I enjoy your blog. I live in Massachusetts and would love to see the Kris Fenderson garden when he opens it to the public next. I believe it will be in two years - so long to wait. How does a regular old gardener find out about fabulous not to be missed garden tours? Any suggestions. This could be a great time to start a website like Ravellry for knitters only it would relate to gardening. That way if someone is hosting a garden tour, or plant sale more people might attend. Now that I think of it this must already exist on the net somewhere.

    Cheers,

    Jan (dannjan1025@msn.com)

    ReplyDelete

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