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Zen Master

Horsetail Project

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I could not find much growing here in Maryland, so last summer I planted a patch of Horsetail (Equisetum hyemale - var. robustum) in our backyard near the drain spouts.   This variety grows up to 6 feet tall.   It wintered well and has robust new shoots - a nice size for woodworking.  The first several new shoots were eaten by a naughty vole (since diseased...)

Horsetail 1.jpg

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Hi JIm,

I got a cluster of it from this place in Kentucky for about $10 through the mail.  They assured me it would do well here and so far so good.  After its first winter it is spreading nicely.  You can also take cuttings and they will root quickly in water.   I did plant it near a downspout to keep it moist during the summer as it likes water..

  http://briansbotanicals.net

There are a few scattered stands around Maryland, but I don't think any of them are the robustum variety which grows bigger.

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I have found some growing in the woods near me in a sandy area next to a stream. Can I dig some up and transplant it to my property? What is the best way to do this? I pulled one up from the sandy soil and it had a lot of root structure attached. My second question may not be on target for this subject; how to use the plant for sanding/burnishing plates. I took some that was dried up and put it in a coffee grinder to make powder. I don't  think the dust was healthy to breath. I have tried holding a bunch in my hand and using it like that to sand plates.  I also tried slitting a section open and attaching it to the back of a felt pad which had adhesive on it. It made a kind of sanding block. Any ideas will help.

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Hey Jim, If you want equisetum I can easily send some. I thought I did send some with roots, but maybe I never did, only sent some stalks without roots...?

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Greg:

 

Cut your equisetum sections, making them into open tubes, and soak them in water overnight. In the morning split them vertically and press them in a heavy book for two weeks. Don't use anything too heavy, as you want to preserve the ridges. After two weeks (or maybe less) tape them flat, ridges down, to a board or something using a good high tack tape. Burnish the tape into the waxy surface. Cut them off with a razor blade after another few days. Use like sandpaper. Don't rush the processing if you want them flat.

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2 hours ago, Greg Sigworth said:

I have found some growing in the woods near me in a sandy area next to a stream. Can I dig some up and transplant it to my property? What is the best way to do this? I pulled one up from the sandy soil and it had a lot of root structure attached. My second question may not be on target for this subject; how to use the plant for sanding/burnishing plates. I took some that was dried up and put it in a coffee grinder to make powder. I don't  think the dust was healthy to breath. I have tried holding a bunch in my hand and using it like that to sand plates.  I also tried slitting a section open and attaching it to the back of a felt pad which had adhesive on it. It made a kind of sanding block. Any ideas will help.

Greg,

I saved this propagation instruction when I was tromping around looking for some wild plants to transplant.  Sadly, I've forgotten the source.  Good luck.

Rhizome Propagation

Growers can propagate wild horsetail by collecting rhizome sections, a process that does not harm mature plants. Horsetail plants produce the best rhizomes for propagation in the spring. Lengths of these underground stems, typically about 6 inches, with healthy shoots emerging from their joints produce the healthiest new plants. If left to themselves, horsetail rhizomes tend to produce roots and aerial shoots on their own.

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59 minutes ago, not telling said:

Hey Jim, did that equisetum I sent to you a year ago take? 

I actually talked you out of sending them to me because I was busy planting a dye plant garden at the time.  I fenced the area off keeping the new plants well protected from deer.  The local rabbits were so impressed with my fence building they had to take a closer look.  They were very delighted that I provided them wonderful snacks to eat while admiring the fence.  They nibbled all my plants to the ground. <_<

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Howdy fellow Marylanders!  They carry horsetail at Valley View Farms in Cockeysville in the water plants section.  I planted some last year sometime and it's been taking it's time to get established.  The neighborhood rabbits seem to like it and I keep seeing a large groundhog in the yard who may be responsible for the slow spread as well. 
The type I have grows to three feet or so.  Last fall I came across a bunch while camping in the redwoods that was much taller than me, probably around 6ft.  At the time I attributed the large size to the prehistoric surroundings.  It was like using a courser grit than what I'm used to.  I believe you get a smoother finish with the smaller stuff. 
 

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I know the place. I’ll check them out when our new reality resets. I got my dye plants from Putnam Hill nursery near Bel Air. A real Mom and Pop business, except Pop is a wood sculpture (sculpturist?).  Nice shop right on the nursery grounds. 

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Horsetail wants to grow in watery muck, where the water is moving -- just not so much as to disturb the plant or the muck.

World wide, the slower patches in and around a stream are likely to have it naturally.

I find mine around town in Santa Barbara, in the stream beds.

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Hi all, very nice to read about horsetail planting and growing, obviously not always possible to find the right ones in the neighborhood. I did a write-up of my preparation for the British BVMA magazine some years ago. You can see it here: 

http://nowakviolins.co.uk/article-horsetail.html

Best wishes to all, Steffen Nowak, Violin maker, Bristol

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Dorian Barnes, a Huston based maker,  sells processed equisetium that I find superior to any other method I have tried.

 

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Thank you everyone for all of the ideas and information!  The last batch I got in N. California when we were visiting.  I have also heard stories that it is quite invasive on the west coast once it takes hold. From what I was reading some species of Equisetum are indicators of the mineral content of the soil in which they grow. That might explain does not seem to volunteer as much in Maryland.  Apparently there are subtropical varieties which will grow 10 - 20 feet high in zone 8.  I bet there is a hefty diameter on those stalks.

I am still learning about this plant and hope my batch continues to do well.  I also took some cuttings from the original plant. It grew roots quickly and I planted them - I would imagine it will take some for them to grow rhizomes. Still have yet to see the main plant produce strobilus – maybe this fall.

 

P. S. Marylanders: There might be an exception to the Maryland horsetail famine. Just a few weeks ago I heard there was a huge stand of horsetail at the Monocacy Aqueduct near Dickerson, Maryland. I am going to check this out over the summer.

 

Stay safe and healthy!

horsetail.jpg

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Where I get the horsetail, a sandy bit of runoff into the Kansas River, I bet less than 3% pop out a strobilus. I catch them if I can. I hardly ever see them, and if I do they are tiny. Maybe I should harvest less aggressively...hmm...

But I believe you have pictured equisetum arvense, field horsetail, and you harvested and planted equisetum hyemale.

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48 minutes ago, not telling said:

 

But I believe you have pictured equisetum arvense, field horsetail, and you harvested and planted equisetum hyemale.

Yes you are correct - I could only find a picture of field horsetail that showed all of the parts.   A long time ago in my search for horsetail I ordered some from Kremer.   They sent field horsetail.  The leaves made a real mess on the wood.

I imagine the strobilus start with really small plants?

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and if you plant some in your garden... and it takes hold... you will have a supply forever and enough for everyone on maestronet!

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9 minutes ago, Mat Roop said:

and if you plant some in your garden... and it takes hold... you will have a supply forever and enough for everyone on maestronet!

And your spouse will bury you in it........................

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2 hours ago, Zen Master said:

Yes you are correct - I could only find a picture of field horsetail that showed all of the parts.   A long time ago in my search for horsetail I ordered some from Kremer.   They sent field horsetail.  The leaves made a real mess on the wood.

I imagine the strobilus start with really small plants?

Oh yeah, we ordered some off Kremer too 10+ years ago and it came in the right variety, but dry and shredded. Ok, what does anyone do with that? Tea? That's what I did. Totally useless for violin work. But then, I have had the fun of learning about it when I had to figure out how to find it and make a useful preparation.

I think I've only seen those strobilus parts on the bigger plants. But not very prominently, and only a few of them in our supply. I'm not sure why that is. All of the female plants should have one, right? Jim probably knows. I think he is a botanist. University of Google can only get you so much information about certain obscure topics, and equisetum is one of those things. I wish I knew more about this amazing plant.

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9 hours ago, not telling said:

Oh yeah, we ordered some off Kremer too 10+ years ago and it came in the right variety, but dry and shredded. Ok, what does anyone do with that? Tea? That's what I did. Totally useless for violin work. But then, I have had the fun of learning about it when I had to figure out how to find it and make a useful preparation. 

I think I've only seen those strobilus parts on the bigger plants. But not very prominently, and only a few of them in our supply. I'm not sure why that is. All of the female plants should have one, right? Jim probably knows. I think he is a botanist. University of Google can only get you so much information about certain obscure topics, and equisetum is one of those things. I wish I knew more about this amazing plant.

I've still go several bags of the useless Kremer stuff - medicinal tea sounds good!    I am looking forward to learning more and seeing how this batch in backyard does. It is an amazing plant - cool to think dinosaurs munched on it.   It would be interesting to so see some of the really big subtropical varieties.   I'll post an update in the fall. 

 

9 hours ago, Mat Roop said:

and if you plant some in your garden... and it takes hold... you will have a supply forever and enough for everyone on maestronet!

I must admit I am having mischievous thoughts of being sort of a horsetail Johnny Appleseed.  Planting it around town at lakes and streams since it does not seem to do that  on its own in Maryland.

 

9 hours ago, Jeff White said:

And your spouse will bury you in it........................

Uh Oh.  I did plant it in the flower garden....

 

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