Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

FAQS ABOUT HOW WE DO THINGS:

Q:  How do I make an account on your website?
A: Start by adding items to your cart.  At checkout, you have the option to create an account or check out as a guest. 

Q: How do I shop on your website if I already have an account?
A: Log in before making an order.  The login link is at the far upper left hand corner of the home page.  If you have trouble logging in, email us at inservice@strictlymedicinalseeds.com.

Q:  How do you process payments and is it secure?
A: We use “Authorize.net” payment portal and PayPal.  Both are considered industry standards and secure ways to process electronic payments.  We don’t store your credit card information on our website for your protection.  Your card is charged immediately when you finalize your order. This means you have to present the ccv code for the card, the billing address must match. PayPal customers have to log into your PayPal account to proceed.

Q:  Do you share my information with other websites or any other entities?
A: We’ve never done this and never will.  Your privacy is very important to us!

Q: I have a specific question about gardening, can I call you to talk?
A: Since we don’t have a call center, we welcome your gardening questions via e-mail to: <<herbseed (at) budget.net>> .

Q:  Can I get discounted wholesale prices on your seeds if I buy in bulk?
A: Actually, we are already providing packets farm-direct to the end user at a substantial discount.  Strictly Medicinal does have wholesale accounts–seed racks in stores–if you think you might qualify for this program, please contact us at wholesale@strictlymedicinalseeds.com.
We define “wholesale” differently from “discount.”  Wholesale terms are for resellers that resell our seed packets to the public.  Folks looking for a discount can look into our seed sets, seed collections and bulk purchasing discounts (such as buying 10 grams of orange calendula instead of a bunch of packets, or 6 comfrey roots instead of 1) all of which are nicely discounted.

Q: I want to order an item, but it is out of stock, what can I do?

A: We don’t offer out of stock items for pre-sale. The best thing to do is hit the “Join the Waitlist” button under the listing of the item. That way, you will automatically receive an email from us when the product is available.

Q: I ordered a goldenseal plant in April and received it in good shape.  However, in July it died.  Can I get a refund?
A:  Many folks prematurely think their plant has died when actually it is an herbaceous perennial that has gone dormant.  Often in the first year, especially if stressed, plants will go prematurely dormant.  Check the root.  We guarantee receipt of a live plant and believe it is very fair to move the responsibility on to the grower after that time, so we give replacements or refunds only for plants that expire in shipment.

Q:  What is the difference between the wording “organic” and “certified organically grown” on your website?
A:  All our organic products are certified organically grown by Oregon Tilth, so if you see the word “organic” then that means the product is certified organically grown.

Click here for more information on our commitment to growing organic seeds and plants.

Q:  Are all of your seeds and plants certified organically grown?
A:  No, but everything we grow ourselves is certified organic, and we are organically certified processors, which means we can buy organic seed from other growers and sell it as organic.  On the whole, organic is our focus, and with a very few exceptions all of our nursery plants and trees are organic, and the majority of the seed we offer is grown by us and organically certified.  Any wildcrafted or commercial seed we do carry is guaranteed to be untreated and open pollinated (in other words not a hybrid type), and definitely not GMO (genetically modified).  We carry only one  hybrid in the catalog–Russian comfrey.

Q:  Are all your seeds heirlooms?
A: There is a lot of hype around heirlooms and it is a little like pouring water into milk—the more you pour, the weaker the milk. We like to reserve the term “heirloom” for vegetable seeds that are an old-timey type that has been handed down from generation to generation, and when it fits (as with “moon and stars watermelon,” we use it. On the other hand, our medicinal herb seeds were originally derived from wild plants, not so much rediscovered in a chest in the attic.  In the case of medicinal herb seeds, the more relevant terms are: organic, open-pollinated (seed saver friendly), untreated and non-GMO. 

Q:  Do you manufacture your own tincture presses, herb drying screens and seed cleaning screens?
A: Yes, and we love this aspect of what we do.  Tools for sustainability, that’s what it’s all about!

Q:  Do you grow the dried herbs that you sell?
A:  Yes, and they are organically certified, handpicked, dried and packaged with great care.  We really love growing and selling dried herbs, although it is a very small part of what we do.  We make sure that the herbs we sell are extraordinary.  Such things as dried Hawthorn Berries, Elderberries, White Sage, etc.–all these goodies are grown and processed right here. 

Q:  I have a terrible cold.  Can you recommend something for me to take?
A:  Sorry, no, we cannot give medical advice.  We can talk about herbs and what they do, we can relate the folklore, we can site recent scientific studies, we can talk about our own experiences with herbs, but we are not licensed doctors, herbal or otherwise.  Please consult your health professional for any medical needs.

Q:  Do you offer an herbal apprenticeship program, work trades or internships?
A:  Sorry, no, our primary focus here is to grow seeds and plants and disseminate them to the people.  The “Herb Pharm Herbaculture” program is a nearby apprentice program in growing, utilizing and understanding medicinal herb farming and use of medicinal herbs in a pragmatic framework.  We recommend that program, and there are many other educational entities out there these days, as well, such as the well-respected programs at Bastyr and NCNM.

FAQS ON SHIPPING RELATED QUESTIONS:

Q: Do you offer free shipping?
A: We offer free domestic shipping via USPS on the following orders.

  • Seed packet only orders $10.00 or more
  • Tincture presses (including parts and accessories)
  • Stainless steel screens
  • All books

Q: I ordered a bunch of packets of seeds and I’m still getting charged shipping. I thought you gave free shipping on domestic seed orders over $10.00. What’s going on?
A: We offer free shipping via USPS on domestic seed packet only orders $10.00 or more. Any order with bulk seeds (1 g or more) will accrue appropriate shipping charges based on weight.

Q:  Do you ship to Canada?
A: Yes, we ship seeds and books, tincture presses, etc. to Canada, not roots or plants. Please order early—there can be delays at customs.

Q:  Do you ship to other countries?
A: International orders (no live roots or plants) are shipped via AIR MAIL only and we do not provide phytosanitary certificates. Due to new, extremely stringent regulations, we cannot successfully ship seeds to: The EU, Montenegro or Scandinavia, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Arabia, Mexico, Central and South America or Africa. We still ship with some success to: Canada, Asia, and European countries not in the EU.

Q:  I ordered books, plants and seeds on the same order. I got my seeds right away and my account says “complete.” Where are the other goods?
A: Orders containing two or more types of product (e.g. seeds and plants) will almost certainly be shipped separately. If you order seeds and plants or roots and receive only the seeds, please rest assured that the plants or roots will ship in good time.* Each shipment will generate an e-mail that gives tracking for that shipment only. The auto-text on these e-mails, and messaging on our website, may say “Order Complete,” but this only means that the part of the order you are receiving is complete. Rest assured you will receive all items in proper order.

*Please note that plants and roots are seasonal items. They’re going to be automatically back-ordered when you purchase them during off-season. Generally, we start shipping plants/roots in mid-March every spring and take a break during the heat of the summer. We then resume plant/root shipping in early fall and stop shipping in late November. The estimated shipping time is listed on the item page during off-season.

Q: How fast do you ship out orders?
A: Simple seed and book orders generally ship out in 2 to 3 days.  This means you get your stuff, on the average, 7 to 10 days after you make your order. Please make sure that you spell your e-mail correctly when you order, which will ensure that you get a tracking e-mail when the goods go out.  International orders will take longer to get to you.  If you have a specific shipping date that you would prefer, you can leave us a message at the customer comments field at checkout.

Q:  If I order Comfrey, when will it ship?
A:  Orders for Comfrey are shipped year-round, usually taking 1 to 2 weeks to ship. Sometimes winter comfrey orders will be delayed due to frozen fields.  Orders for other live roots (Goldenseal, Black Cohosh, Mayapple, Wild Yam, etc.) ship out from October to December.  Plants are shipped mid-March through July, then again early September through the end of November.  If ordering out of season, plants will be backordered and shipped in season. If you have a preferred timeframe, please let us know, we will try to comply. If you need plants quickly, let us know and we’ll try to put your order up for Monday of the next week.  That is about as fast as we can turn it around.

Q: What carrier do you use?
A: We prefer to ship everything via USPS except Screens and Tincture Presses which ship via UPS Ground.

Q:  Can I get RUSH service?
A: If you need the goods pronto, use the “ORDER COMMENTS” field at checkout and say “please ship ASAP!”  If you want to authorize a more expensive and faster shipping option (like upgrading a simple seed order to priority mail,” then also say “I authorize you to charge my card extra for priority mail shipment.”

*Please click here for more shipping related questions.

FAQS ON SEEDS AND HORTICULTURE:

Q:  How long do your seeds last in storage and how should I store them for later use?
A: In general dried medicinal herb seed (e.g. Astragalus, Echinacea, Motherwort) lasts 3 years in storage.  A few species (e.g. Chamomile, Valerian) are shorter-lived and may give reduced germination after 12 months in storage.  Store dried seeds in their paper packet in a lidded glass jar or sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator. Never, ever put our seeds in the freezer! Meanwhile, here’s what we really think:  Sow all the seeds in the packet at once (these are single serving packets) in the appropriate environment.  For best results, sow soon after receipt.  We change out our medicinal herb seed yearly to the new harvest, have a last seed in first seed out policy, and would think that if you need seed in a year’s time it would make sense to order it then, not now!

Q: What’s the difference between true comfrey and Russian comfrey?
A: True Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) is an open pollinated type that originates in Europe.  It has white to purple flowers (our type has dark purple flowers) hollow stems, prickly leaves and a dark brown to black taproot that is filled with mucilage. It makes viable seeds.  Russian Comfrey (Symphytum x uplandicum) is a hybrid cross between the Russian plant Symphytum asperrimum and Symphytum officinale.  It has pale violet flowers, makes long, broad leaves, and has a brown taproot that is filled with mucilage.  It is sterile and spreads only when its root system is disturbed or if it is dug up and propagated by root division.  Both types of comfrey are useful in herbal medicine, veterinary medicine, as an animal food, in composting, and in permaculture.  To split hairs, true comfrey is probably a little better to use in human medicine, and Russian comfrey is probably a little better to use as animal feed and in compost making.  FDA has issued warnings that these plants should not be taken internally, due to presence of Pyrrolizidine alkaloids.  Both these types of comfrey contain the cell proliferant molecule known as allantoin as well as pyrrolizidine alkaloids.  Extended use of these plants is not recommended–they are best used in human medicine as treatment for acute symptoms, not as a tonic.  And, neither type is appropriate for use during pregnancy.

Q:  I planted your Echinacea seeds and I got Purslane instead.  What’s up?
A: Please rest assured that we properly package and label our seeds.  If it was purslane seed (very tiny seeds) instead of Echinacea seed (larger, very characteristic shape) from the start, don’t you think you would have noted this during planting?  Sometimes people think we sent them the common weeds that germinate quickly after planting, but these common weed seeds were already there in the soil.  The seeds that you purposefully plant are often slower germinating flowers, but they are worth the wait! We have a 3 point GMP verification system to make sure that seeds are not mislabeled. If you truly believe you got nongermination on a packet, and the appropriate germination time has passed, just call or e-mail us and let us know, and in most cases we’ll immediately send you a free one time replacement, no questions asked. There are a few rare varieties (e.g. Mandrake) that are not guaranteed and which we will not replace.  This is noted in the catalog.  All of our seed is germ tested.  All of our seed is viable.  One of the challenges involved with carrying a lot of wild type seeds and unusual or rare plant seeds is–difficulty in germination.  So please, work on the planting method, prepare the right environment, and exercise patience and faith.  It matters.

Q:  My Ashitaba plant grew great this year but now its getting leggy and making flowers.  I never harvested the leaves.  Is my plant going to die?
A: More on how to harvest, consume, and collect seed from Ashitaba: The young plant is going to keep making leaves from the center of the crown or stalk.  As these leaves mature they begin to go yellow and die back, with new green leaves coming on from the central growth points.  The mature leaves are best harvested and used before they get rubbery.  Eat the fresh stems daily.  Eat the leaves, too, if you like.  Or, dry the leaves and make them into tea or tincture (1:4 50%A 50%W). The plant is monocarpic–it is going to grow and make leaves on an ongoing basis until it flowers, and after making its seeds, it is going to die.  If you want to keep the plant for another growing cycle, cut back the tops as they begin to bud and the plant will probably go back to vegetative production (stop making flowers).  If not allowed to make flowers, it will probably overwinter and give another burst of production the next year.  Bring in for the winter in zones 6 and colder, otherwise mulch the crown and look for emergence of new growth in spring.  If you let the plant go to flower and want to harvest seeds, be aware that the plant takes about 3 months to produce mature seeds.  Wait until the seeds start to turn brown and begin to split apart.  At this point you can harvest the umbel, dry it in the shade, and gently tease the seeds apart, freeing them from chaff.  Store in cool, dry shade (in a paper packet in a sealed glass jar in the fridge, or in a dark cabinet) for the winter, and plant in the spring.   

Q:  Why do the white sage seeds have a much different picture than the white sage plants? Is this the same plant?
A: Yes, the various pictures of white sage (Salvia apiana) do indeed reflect the plant, which will have greenish leaves when young, white leaves when older, droughted, stressed, or later in the season, and in all respects a variable leaf shape and color depending on age and season.  The one thing that does not change is the fragrance, which, to the initiated, is unmistakable.

Q:  How do you prune a Bodhi tree? I purchased a seedling from you many years ago and wondered how to prune it and actually whether to do it or not.
A: Bodhi trees are fairly resilient when they get cut back, and tend to throw multiple stems, both if cut back to the base or if pruned on the hardwood.  It can make them bushier if you judiciously make a few cuts.  It doesn’t really hurt them.  Sometimes you can even get the cuttings to root, which is pretty cool when it happens.  Sometimes Bodhi trees get top-heavy, in which case they should be staked.

Q:  Why don’t you sell Anchusa officinalis, Goat’s Rue, Poison Hemlock, Woad or White Bryony anymore?
A:  These are all listed as noxious weeds by Federal or Oregon State Department of Agriculture, and they have stepped in to disallow us from selling seeds or plants of these herbs.  We’re very sorry about that!

Q: What zone is good for planting blue lake bush beans?
A: We don’t give zone recommendations for simple summer annuals. These work well in the summer garden anywhere. Zones were invented to try to give people a clue as to whether a given perennial will overwinter or not. We used to not give zone information at all because it tends to discourage certain people living in certain places from growing plants that they actually could, lacking zonophobia, grow and enjoy. Now we give zone recommendations for perennials only, and encourage everyone to take it with a grain of salt.

Q: We got medicinal calendula seed from you a few years ago and have been collecting seed each year to replant. Is there any diminishment of potency in the flowers so long as it’s not cross pollinating with anything? I’m thinking how we need to get new seed each year for some produce. Is it not the case with calendula and how do you know what type of plant it might be a concern with?    
A:  Thanks for that well-considered question.  The problem that can occur in this situation is called inbreeding depression.  This happens when minimum population numbers of outcrossers like Calendula and a lot of other Asteraceae are not met.  You should be working with 2,000 individuals to keep the gene pool diverse.  Otherwise yes you can get diminished vigor that might equate to diminished potency of the flower. I have definitely seen this happen in Calendula, a breed that seems particularly sensitive to selective influences.   It would be a good idea for you to replenish your gene pool every couple of years with a new purchase, and that would be good for us, too!  As for the second part of your question I would be unconcerned about inbreeding depression when collecting seed of self-fertile plants like most of the Legumes or Solanacea.