Friday, November 12, 2010

Planting Ginseng

Yesterday we planted our first crop of 'wild' Ginseng. Since we have such beautiful woods here, we wanted to take advantage of the perfect growing conditions. You see, we happen to live in an area where ginseng grows wild. I've seen it growing here in my woods and while out trail riding. It's not hard to miss with the pretty leaves and bright red berries. Western Pennsylvania has some of the best and most natural growing conditions for Ginseng. Why not take advantage of those perfect natural growing conditions? The mountains and hills around us provide good soil, great drainage and perfect weather!

We chose a shady spot with good drainage and prepared the soil. First we raked back the leaves into piles. We pulled the few weeds that were growing there. We chose an area without too much undergrowth. (a lot of undergrowth would indicate that too much sunlight reaches the forest floor which would kill the delicate Ginseng plants) Then we lightly raked the soil to loosen it up a little for the seed. 

How to plant and grow Ginseng

We scattered about 100 seeds on the prepared ground then tossed a little forest dirt on top of them and tamped it down. Then came a layer of shredded dried leaves. 
How to plant and grow Ginseng

Last we raked the original leaves back over the area and tamped them down also. 
How to plant and grow Ginseng

If you don't know where to look, you won't even be able to find it! Until it grows that is! Now we wait.....7 years! We may plant another crop on one of the slopes closer to the water this year. It would be awful if the first crop didn't take and since you can't always be 100% certain you got what you paid for (and I can't for the life of me figure out how to tell stratified seed from un-stratified seed) we're considering using a second seller and planting a second crop. 

Truthfully, we're hoping to not have to wait the full 7 years. I've read that it can be ready in as few as 4, however we're not willing to use commercial fertilizers or pesticides. Some of the crops will be planted in areas the Guineas already like to hang out. Natural pest killer, natural fertilizer. Will it work? No idea. I will certainly let you know!


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