I just got finished placing a video on my website from where I have been planting ginseng rootlets for about three weeks. I did not go into deep detail on the video because I felt like we could probably talk about specifics on the board. My intentions at the house were to loosen up the soil and get Gypsum and Bonemeal down into the ground where the roots would come into contact with the necessary minerals needed. I also was hoping to loosen the soil up some as well. Even though this video only shows a small section, I have actually planted many long rows of Wild Tennessee Ginseng as well as more Northern varieties. Almost all of these rootlets were planted in spots where bad germination from planted seeds showed up this year. I sure would like to hear of other methods that some of you have tried and been successful with.
Looks good Hugh. The only thing I would suggest you consider is planting the rootlets a little deeper. I've found worked up soil compacted around the rootlets and left them sticking out of the ground in the past by planting too shallow. I currently plant rootlets about 3\" deep. However, I don't tamp down and water as you do.
My normal method is to use a tiller to loosen up the dirt in the bed. I make mounded rows similar to my seedbeds, and start at one end of the bed and make furrows across the bed, place the roots, then cover them with the dirt from the next furrow down the line. I try to get the back wall of the furrow about 45 degrees and lay the rootlets bud up against that back wall. That way, when I pull dirt from on down the bed to cover them, I'm making the next furrow at the same time.
Thanks for taking a look and for your comments. I can certainly agree with you about planting depth. The first ones that I planted did exactly what you described and I had to continually keep covering them. I even had to take a few of them up and replant them deeper, so I would admonish anyone who is about to plant rootlets to dig a little deeper hole or furrow so that you have plenty of planting depth. Your method sounds interesting and I'd like to see it. I have wondered many times how someone uses a tiller in the woods without getting serious kick back from rocks or roots. My method of planting in the mountains is completely different than at home and requires about 1/5 of the amount of time and work. I've got lots more to plant this coming week.
*nod* I get a lot of questions about tilling in the woods. Why I wrote a whole chapter about it ...ummm....in another place available someplace else
Basically, I went with the Bronco size tiller (one up from the baby I think) of the Troy Bilt line of rear tined tillers. Rear tine is a must and I've always had Troy Bilts and wouldn't have anything else really.
This tiller is light enough that I can pick it up and put it in the truck (though not as easily as it was a few years ago ) and it cuts about 14 inches or so. Because of the softness of woodland dirt in normal weather conditions, I only make the depth about 2 inches and it will sink in a little deeper and give me a bed that is maybe 4-6 inches deep if I go over it enough times.
I just basically go over bigger roots and rocks. Smaller roots I chop out with a madock and stones I can get out I do, otherwise I leave them. The rear tine forward-rotation is a must in the woods. That way, as long as you don't try to force the tines down into the dirt, the back just bounces up when it hits something. A reverse rotation would catch on everything I think.
I tried the small Mantis type tillers and they take forever. This little tiller is the best $500 I spent for my growing business.
Here is a link to the Troy Bilt page for the Bronco. I should also note that this is the smallest one they make that has a reverse...which is huge in the woods when you find yourself right up against a tree.
when planting rootlets I find the Mantis tiller to be the easiest. It is light and one tank fulL of gas will due you half the day. Depending on the soil conditions you can rotate the tines for cultivate or till, till being deeper. It's also excellent for planting seed.
Here are a couple pictures of some ginseng I took the other day.
The first is what I commonly see. It has a high percentage of smaller stuff -too high. This particular batch was well taken care of, and handled correctly. Not too clean nor too dirty. As you can see, it has a lower percentage of damaged roots. This lot would be discounted slightly because of the high percentage of small roots and absence of large roots all together.
The second is essentially the same, but is worth more because of the larger average size of the roots. This is fairly typical of some parts of the state, like along the Ohio River and the eastern portions. Certainly folks who pay attention and do not dig smaller roots (regardless of the size of the top) can dig this quality (and better too) in other places around the state. I just bought some the other day from north central Ohio that looked better than this lot. Typically, the stuff I see from around here are smaller and more stringy. But, guys who steward their ginseng patches are doing much, much better than that.
Guy, toward the end of the year, I might have paid in the neighborhood of $730 for the top because there was just no large roots in it at all and the presence of long thin roots.
I would have been around $760 for the bottome lot, because again, there was a high percentage of smaller stuff.
Now, take a look at the two roots on the left hand corners of the $5 bill in the bottom picture. They are a little smallish, but I would have paid nearly $800/lb for a lot that all had character like those two roots with some bigger stuff in it.