Ginseng and Goldenseal Growing Instructions
WILD SIMULATED GINSENG GROWING INSTRUCTIONS
Ginseng is a very unique plant to grow and requires certain conditions to thrive and mature. Ginseng is always found growing in the hardwoods in its native habitat and is also found on hillsides or areas of very good drainage where standing water is not a problem. The reason for this is that ginseng can not survive in soils that are saturated with water for long periods of time. Planting on what is considered "good ginseng ground" will help aid in the survival of the ginseng plants.
Ginseng requires some type of shade source. In the woods the trees provide the shade to help protect the plants from the direct sunlight. For those that have a woods containing hardwood trees planting among these trees may be an ideal location. Looking at the underbrush growing in a woods is a good indication of the amount of sulight reaching the forest floor. A small amount of underbrush growing will usually indicate the correct amount of shade. If there is no underbrush growing there is probably too much shade and the ginseng will not grow. Thick underbrush usually indicates too much light and the ginseng will die after sprouting. For those that are interested in trying to grow ginseng in your garden or home finding the correct location may be a little more difficult. The most important thing is that the ginseng plants do not receive direct sunlight from mid morning until late afternoon (approximately 70% shade is ideal). A large tree or an overhang on the house may provide the proper shade.
Once a location has been selected the site can be prepared for planting. When planting, rake back the leaves in an area suitable for ginseng (assuming you are in the woods) and scatter the ginseng seed on the ground(mixing the seed with sand will help separate them so that they will not fall in "clumps" and possibly choke each other out). The seeds can then be raked gently into the ground or simply stepped on to press the seeds slightly into the soil. Ginseng seed should never be planted more than 1/4" deep. Once the seed has been planted the leaves should be raked back over the seed to help protect the seed from drying out and also hide the seed from rodents and other predators. Plant as late into the fall season as possible before snowfall. The ideal time is to plant when the leaves are in their highest level of falling and during a gentle fall rain. This allows the seed to remain moist and gives ti the best chance in the spring. Expect to lose at least 50% of your seed the first winter. Subsequent years, up until the time of harvest (usually 10 or more years down the road) will take your available original plants down to about 1 in 20. The loss of doing things this way will be more than compensated by the fact that wild simulated ginseng commands the same price as wild ginseng which is about 30 times as much as the cultivated root, (if you can find a market for the cutlivated!) and that you will be planting seeds which the plants bear the third year after planting. As the years pass, your plants will become more and more hardy and acclimated to your particular location.
The first year the seedling plants will usually have three leaves and be approximately 1" tall. Weeding may be necessary during the first several years. The mulch should be left on to help control the weeds and also provide protection for the roots during subsequent winters. Each Fall the leaves falling from the trees will once again blanket the plants and add an extra layer of protection for the upcoming winter.
Over the next several years the plants will "slowly" grow and begin to mature. Ginseng planted in the woods often takes 10 years or more to reach mature size.
GOLDENSEAL GROWING INSTRUCTIONS
Goldenseal is a native perennial and occurs over the same range and under the same wooded conditions as ginseng. The cultural requirements for Goldenseal are the same as for ginseng and it is often grown under the same wooded conditions or shade structure. (Please see Ginseng Growing Instructions for more information on growing conditions.)
Goldenseal plants emerge in early spring from buds on perennial rootstocks. Goldenseal is propagated by seed, rhizome divisions, or rootlet cuttings. Similar to ginseng, goldenseal seed requires stratification before it will germinate. However, goldenseal seeds will germinate the following spring after harvest unlike ginseng which takes about 18 months to germinate.
Goldenseal rootlets or seed should be planted in a similar fashion to the way ginseng is planted. When planting small amounts the leaves can be raked back and the soil worked slightly. The seeds can be planted about 1/4"-1/2" deep and the rootlets can be covered with about 3/4"-1" of soil. A fine rotted hardwood leaf mulch can then be placed back over the planted area. One thing that we have noticed when growing goldenseal is that goldenseal has a toughter time coming through the mulch than ginseng does. This has led us to loosen the mulch or remove some of the mulch in spring prior to the plants sprouting to help the plants emerge easier. Roolets can be planted in 8" rows spaced 8" apart. Seed can be planted in 3" rows spaced 3" apart.
When planting larger areas of goldenseal the soil can be tilled and formed into beds similar to ginseng. A straw or sawdust mulch can also be used. It will usually require about 3-5 years for goldenseal to mature.
The tops of goldenseal can also be harvested and dried for sale. They should be harvested and dried in the fall when they are still green. The goldenseal roots can be harvested after the plants go dormant in the fall.
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