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.

Does anyone remember horehound candy?


When I was young I remember eating this strange hard candy. A few of my elderly newspaper customers usually had it around. Whenever I had a cough, this one lady always gave me some. You’re supposed to suck on the … Continue reading

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Broomsedge is a native grass indicative of infertile soils


We know we are approaching fall when we begin noticing clumps of tall fluffy grass called broomsedge (Andropogon virginicus). It’s not really a sedge at all. It’s a warm-season perennial grass. Some folks call it broom sage, which is incorrect. … Continue reading

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Fixing low spots in a lawn is not a one size fits all


After a rain it seems like all the imperfections show up in our lawns. Fixing them usually requires patience and the remedy varies depending upon soil type, time of year and grass species. Repair options can be gradual. This is … Continue reading

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Solving plant problems requires knowing what the enemy is


A couple weeks ago somebody brought me a Ziploc bag full of blueish gray bugs with orange stripes and spots on them. He told me they were killing his crape myrtles. Many of the leaves were falling prematurely. He also … Continue reading

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Evening primrose is a stunning native wildflower


Everyone has seen those tall weeds with long narrow leaves and covered with cup-shaped yellow flowers. Sometimes they can grow to be five feet tall. For foragers and herbalists, it has a bounty of uses. The plant in question is … Continue reading

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Four o’clock flowers are beautiful and hard to remove


When I was in graduate school I lived in a hillside apartment that had beautiful four o’clock flowers in the front yard. They came in different colors, mostly bright pink to magenta, and they self-seeded themselves every year. I liked … Continue reading

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Sericea lespedeza has good points as well as bad ones


Most of our land is not prime farmland. Some places have problems with soil moisture, fertility or erodibility. We can’t grow row crops anywhere we want, and we usually can’t afford to fertilize places that may not provide a return … Continue reading

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