I grew 2 short rows of ashwaganda (Withania somnifera) at the request of a local chocolatier friend who uses the herb powdered in his chocolate bars. This is an Indian herb, very commonly used in Aruvedic medicine, that whose optimum growing conditions are warmer and drier than our Appalachian climate offers. My personal philosophy lends itself to want to focus on growing things that are more perfectly adapted to our climate, but I figured I would slap up two terraces on my south facing hill and try this herb as an annual. I began digging the roots Sunday morning, quickly but carefully unearthing what ended up being surprisingly large roots for a single season's growth. I worked until it started raining miserably, and I will resume the harvest when the weather clears.
Ashwaganda means "horse smell," and from this experience, I can tell you it is aptly named. The aroma of the fresh roots is potent, hopefully indicative of the medicine. This root is a renowned tonic, supposedly endowing energy, stamina, potency and stronger immunity upon its recipients. A traditional preparation is an infusion in warm milk with honey. Living just over the hill from some primo milk cows and around the mountain from several beekeepers, I am excited to try it out this winter on myself.