Wild Root to ‘Sang’ About

first_imgDiggers must have permission from landowners or from district ranger stations on U.S.Forest Service property. They must also plant ginseng berries wherever they dig roots. American ginseng (Panax quinquefolium L.) was discovered growing in Canada in thelate 1700s. Regarded as a great healing medicine in the Orient, it has been sold thereever since. Ginseng is native to the hardwood and mixed forests of the Orient and eastern NorthAmerica. In Georgia it’s mainly in the northern reaches, where it sometimes can befound growing wild but more often is cultivated. Because of the strong foreign market, ginseng has developed a reputation of being”poached” from owners’ lands — particularly the wild root, which brings higher prices.So if you plan to grow ginseng, keep your garden secret. Growing ginseng takes care, patience and the right environment. You can grow it fromseeds, seedlings or roots. The crop requires 5-7 years to mature from seed. Due to the wild crop’s depletion, the state has enacted laws placing limits on harvests.Ginseng harvests are limited to plants with three or more prongs and can be dug fromonly Aug. 1 to Dec. 31. The site should only get 10 percent to 25 percent sunlight. Make beds 4 feet wide.Work soil to 12 inches when planting roots. Good air circulation is also important. But this lack of proof hasn’t hampered the demand for the wild root. In fact, due to thehigh demand, it has been cultivated for years and still fetches a high price on certainmarkets. Most folks don’t keep their gardens secret. They usually want to show them off. Butmost folks don’t grow ginseng — at least not in plain sight. Ginseng’s market value is based on color, maturity, size and form. Wild rootsgenerally bring a higher price than cultivated roots. Northern U.S. plants are generallypreferred for export. Only whole roots are acceptable for sale, so they must becarefully dug and washed.center_img To reduce time to harvest, plant one-, two- or three-year-old seedlings instead of seeds.Roots are best planted in the fall but can be planted anytime from April to October. Plant scarified or partially germinated seeds in the spring. Make rows and hills about 8inches apart. Cover seeds with 1 inch of forest soil or well-rotted hickory sawdust. Parts of ginseng are used for everything from stomach pain analgesics to aphrodisiacs.After extensive research on its effects and contents, there is still little proof of itseffectiveness. To prepare for planting, break the soil to 6-8 inches and mix 1:1 with fiber-free soil. Awell-drained site, preferably on raised beds, is necessary. Keep the beds free of weeds and grasses. Cultivate only by scratching the ground witha light implement. Cover beds with a weed-free mulch 3-5 inches deep during winter.Remove the mulch before the first sprouts appear in spring. Fertilize only byincorporating leaves or old sawdust from hardwood trees. You may also apply bonemeal at one pound per square yard. Once harvested, whole roots must be dried starting at 60-80 degrees and increasing to90 degrees over several days. Spread roots on netted shelves and turn them frequently.Roots more than two inches thick will have to be dried for about six weeks. Mature roots are spindle-shaped, 2-4 inches long and 1 inch thick. Roots don’t reach amarketable size until they’re five to seven years old. Ginseng grows to about one foot high with five egg-shaped leaves. It hasgreenish-yellow flowers in clusters. The fruit is a bright crimson berry with one tothree wrinkled seeds.last_img

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