Author Archives: tedmanzer

About tedmanzer

I grew up in Old Town Maine and got a B.S. at the University of Maine in Plant Sciences/ minor in Botany. From there I moved to West Virginia and earned a M.S. in Agronomy at WVU. I also met my wife there. She grew up in rural WV as the daughter of tenant farmers who raised cattle and hogs. Their lifestyle at times was one of subsistence and I learned a lot from them. I've always been a foraging buff, but combining my formal botanical knowledge with their practical 'Foxfire-type' background opened up my eyes a little more. I now teach agriculture to high school students at Northeastern High School in Elizabeth City, NC. My wife teaches with me and we make a great team. I also write a weekly nature/foraging column for the local paper (dailyadvance.com). I also have written several Christian nature/adventure novels that I plan to publish eventually. One is a five book family saga I call the 'Forgotten Virtues' series. In the first book, Never Alone, a young boy comes of age after his father dies in a plane crash, and he has to make it alone. Never Alone is now available in paperback, Kindle and Nook. The second book, Strange Courage, takes Carl from his High School graduation to his recovery from a nasty divorce. The third book, Second Chances, takes Carl from his ex-wife's death and the custody of his son to his heroic death at age 59. The fourth book, Promises Kept, depicts how his grandchildren react and adjust to his death. In the final book, Grandfather's Way, his youngest and most timid granddaughter emerges from the shadow of her overachieving family and accomplishes more in four months than most do in a lifetime. I use many foraging references with a lot of the plants I profile in these articles in those books.

Sunflowers are a symbol of summer


We don’t grow many sunflowers commercially in this part of the country, but they are one of our most recognizable flowers. Many folks grow them on a small scale. There are so many reasons to grow sunflowers. They are beautiful, … Continue reading

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Rhinoceros beetles are menacing looking but completely harmless


Occasionally, someone will bring in a large curious-looking insect for me to identify. Males have a big horn-like structure on their heads. Females have no horns. These insects are in the group called scarab beetles. Their major colors are greenish … Continue reading

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Burning fields is an old practice that still continues


When I first moved to North Carolina, I was surprised farmers were still allowed to burn wheat fields, especially in places where neighborhoods were close. That was twenty-some years ago. Even in the mid-90s, there was a growing group of … Continue reading

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Mulching can benefit vegetable gardens too.


Last week I discussed how mulches are used on our landscape beds. Vegetable gardens can also benefit from a good mulching now and then. Often, our goals will determine the type of material used. In spring, we can speed up … Continue reading

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How do we decide about landscape mulching?


Most people spread a layer of mulch around their landscape beds. Some even mulch vegetable gardens. With so many types to choose from, it’s often a confusing situation. The main reasons we mulch are to conserve water, suppress weeds and … Continue reading

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Controversy about GMO crops never seems to go away


We’re all familiar with the term GMO, and many have already made up their minds about these crops. Unfortunately, most people don’t really know how they were developed or how they are different from any other commodity. That doesn’t stop … Continue reading

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Jimsonweed is another poisonous plant in the potato family


Last week I wrote about angel trumpet, an ornamental plant in the potato family. Jimsonweed (Datura stramonium) is a very close relative and a weedy plant some people think is attractive enough to be used that way. In fact, numerous … Continue reading

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