I plant the same way fellas. I leave it up to mother nature. No fertilizer, fungicides etc. I know the outcome will be in the 10 to 20% survival rate after 10 years. I have seen it done the other way and it is impressive with 70% survival rates. But I like most of you are not willing to sacrifice quality and quantity for larger yields with possible chemical build up in the roots from applying chemical sprays to my seng patches. I have thought about doing this for a seed bed or two intended only for seed production. But I am still on the fence about it.
I have applied Plant Helper one time in the spring on beds with seeds that had not germinated yet. I raked most of the leaves off, but did not disturb the soil at all. Then I sprayed Plant Helper and raked the leaves back on.
Once roots have started to grow, you don't want to be raking the leaves off of your beds, even when the roots have gone dormant for the season. Especially on seedlings and younger roots, raking leaves off of the beds could break off the growth bud for next seasons growth. Also you take the chance of stirring up some kind of disease.
Over the past five years I have been applying gypsum on a \"as Needed Basis\". When tests show areas that have calcium levels below 2000 ppa.
When I do apply gypsum, I use the pelletized kind. Over the years I have tried the powder kind and the pelletized kind. I found that the powdered gypsum is messy and can not be applied while the tops are still standing. The pelletized gypsum can be applied anytime, broadcasting it on top of the leaves(mulch) and will bounce off of the tops and land down in the leaves. The raine will wash the gypsum down into the soil.
For ones that have not tried the pelletized gypsum, you don't know what your missing.
On my beds in the hollow where my calcium tested at 1400 ppa, when I planted my seed there - after raking the bed clean and raking up the soil well, I dropped my seed, then put on Gypsum. Then rake the dirt/mulch and leaves back on and walk it all down to make sure the seeds get good soil contact.
I did that in the fall when planting, then in the spring (Febuary timeframe) I put down more Gypsum.
Scotts book I think he recommened putting down Gypsum as the tops were dieing back in the fall, then again in the spring before tops are up.
Of course you are supposed to do soil test to confirm you still need to boost the calcium before applying more.
I think if your calcium is sort of boarderline OK like mine was at 1400 ppa, just needs a small boost up into the 2000+ range, then it might be Ok to just put on Gypsum one time a year - like in January/Feb.
It takes a little while for organic fertilizers (broadcast on top) to get down into the soil and break down to become available to the plants, so putting them down a month or two before tops emerge should work nicely. That way when the tops do emerge and the seng is doing most of it's growth (spring / early summer) the fertilizer is ready and most available.
In the case of a plant like ginseng where the top dies back in October/November and the root remains dormant over the winter, I am not sure how much a fall application of fertilizer actually helps.
On my plantings where I am applying Gypsum I am going to just put down Gypsum one time late winter (like Mid Feb) and by the time my tops start showing up (early April) and the root starts growing again in the spring and early summer the available calcium should be at it's peak for those months.
The only Gypsum that I have been able to find (at a reasonable price) around her is a pulverized, fine powder type. It is easy to cast by hand, but does not work all that well from a hand crank spreader. The peleted type like Classicfur has found I agree would be better. You could load that up in a hand crank spreader and cast it easily.
PS - a Note on Gypsum for those of you that may not know.
Not all Gypsum is \"Natural Mined\" organic product.
Some is \"Synthetic\" Gypsum and is basically a bi-product of TVA Electric Generation plants (polution control for coal fired electric generators).
It can also come from a source of recycled gypsum board (drywall board).
The Synthetic and Re-Cycled stuff will most likely not be certified organic even though it may be approved for ag use.
If you want a organic product in the end, you best look for a Gypsum product that is from source (natural mined) and check to see if it is certified organic.
Thanks fellas your answers cleared up a lot for me. The biggies were; not raking back in an established patch (for disease and fungus concerns) and using the pelletized gypsum which is thankfully, what I have on hand. Also, doing perodic soil testing. Given my original soil tests, I am sure that I will be needing late Winter, or early Spring treatment.
Yes TN, I am treating with the gypsum immediately after sowing, and before raking back over. I am 100% committed to using organic gypsum. Since I didn't research that very well, I bought the Epsoma brand for this first planting. It is expensive, but I didn't immediately find other organic brands that might be a bit easier on the wallet. I did the math, and I do have enough to treat this first planting. Maybe by next Spring, prior to emergence, I'll have found another brand that is less expensive, and yet still organic.
One plus that I think I do have going for me; is that I have some excellent mulch from 90% - 100% shredded maple leaves. I have lots of maples, and I recently raked and ran those thru my \"Earthquake\" shredder. (nice machine). That mulch will be the first layer on my seeded and gypsumed beds. Then, I'll rake what I cleared off back over that mulch.
Collect about 1 cup of soil from the area you intend to plant. I get samples from 4-6 spots on the hillside I am going to plant and mix it together and take 1 cup from that.
You need to rake off the top 1/2 of soil or so (that composted leaf layer on top) and then collect dirt from the next 3-4 inches.
Here in TN we can mail that in to a site that does the testing and sends us back the results. It cost 7.00 for a basic soil test here in TN and you get back plenty of details for ginseng needs, PH, N P K, Mg, Ca, etc.
No doubt the exact process and cost varies by State so you would need to check with yours.
My boy and I got out this evening and planted about 1/4 lb of seed.
It was a absolutely bueatiful day and we did some (wild style) planting this evening.
We basically just walked over one of our big hillsides and looked for MHF (Maidenhair Fern) and where we found it, we just planted places here and there.
I was planting with my sharpshooter shovel with pvc pipe for seed delivery and he was using a little garden trowell and after about 20 minutes he said \"Dad I want to try using your shovel\" and well I let him try it out.
He liked it a lot better than that little hand trowell (have to bend over a lot to use it) and WELL - I did not get my shovel back the rest of the time we planted.
I messed up and swapped with him a little while and then he did not want to change back !
I am going to have to get me another one of those sharpshooter shovels now that he knows what it is like to plant without having to bend over all the time.
For Ca levels below 2000, Scott Persons recommends 10 lbs per 100 sq ft, which he feels is conservative. The gypsum I get from Southern States comes in a 40 lb bag which is handy because it works out to exactly 1/4 bag if you're planting in 5x40 ft rows. I put it down on top of the leaves last February and my soil tests taken this summer went from 1100 to 2000 ppa.
Now I'm putting it directly on the soil surface at the time of seeding, but haven't yet done a repeat soil test. The sites I'm working most with are already at 2000, but I'm putting more on anyway. I'm hoping to keep them at at least 3000 ppa. But why stop there? Has anybody tried to build their Ca levels even higher? I keep thinking back to that Smoky Mountains NP study where the most healthy ginseng stands were at something like 4000-6000 ppa. Those levels would be pretty expensive to try and maintain, but do you think there is any other reason to not build Ca higher than 2000 ppa? Scott Persons/Bob Beyfuss/Andy Hankins all recommend boosting Ca to 2000, but don't mention going higher.