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TOPIC: growing in high pH

growing in high pH 4 years 4 months ago #22829

Hi guys,
I'm looking at buying a piece of land to grow ginseng on that's good in many ways. Its got organic rich soil, big poplars, soil calcium levels > 4000 ppa, and a lush understory of spicebush, black cohosh, sweet cicely, and wild ginger. One of the things holding me back is the site's high pH. I've measured it a few times and at a few spots, and its consistently 6.9 - 7.11 despite being underlain by granite. There is no limestone within at least 100 miles. Two questions: 1) do any of you have experience growing in soils with pH this high? I understand from Dr. Persons book that this possibly makes the plants more susceptible to disease, although I've seen here some amazing pictures of ginseng growing wild on limestone soils. 2) any explanation for why the soil has a pH that high? As far as I know, this area has always been wooded with no reason to lime or otherwise amend the soil. There is very sparse wild ginseng growing (like 2 plants total), and none of the traditional calcium loving indicator plants like maidenhair fern that I know of. What do y'all make of this?

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Re:growing in high pH 4 years 4 months ago #22830

vafiddler,
I have found that rich loamy soil in my areas are typically high in Calcium due to Limestone glacier deposits. Consequently PH is typically high at 6.5 to 7 and Calcium can exceed 6,500 PPA. I have found that ginseng does very well in areas like this. However, PH levels of 5.5 with calcium over 5,000 PPA do exist but are few and far between. So I guess we have to settle for what is available for purchase and what mother nature has to offer. I would not hesitate to plant in an area such as yours. However, I know some would disagree. Spicebush is one of my favorite indicator plants for a good growing area. I find ginseng growing in areas associated with spicebush often and my plantings do well in areas that are void of ginseng but loaded with spicebush.
Good luck buddy.
Latt

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Re:growing in high pH 4 years 4 months ago #22831

You could always grow truffles, they like high pH and are worth more than Ginseng and grow much faster once you get them going. Although even your pH may be too low for that.

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Re:growing in high pH 4 years 4 months ago #22832

Although you have not described the lay of the land, I can assume from the high PH levels on this property that it has higher mountains mainly to the West and probably higher mountains mainly to the East, has somewhat poor drainage and suffers a Rain Shadow effect. Although this property receives a fair amount of moisture in the form of some runoff, fog and overrunning Stratus type clouds, it actually receives less precipitation than the surrounding slopes mainly to the West and East. The lack of appreciable precipitation and probably poor drainage due to a heavy underlament of granite, the Alkalines and Calcium are unable to leach off the property due to lack of good runoff or drainage.

You could try irrigating the property and opening up drainage in the form of holes drilled with an Auger as well as ensuring that there is drainage off of the property in the form of a ditch or creek bed. With a good but simple irrigation system and drainage created as explained, the costs of such a venture could be kept lower than one would think and should work to lower the high PH in the soil. However, this may or may not be feasible due to the location and lack of a nearby water source (i.e. if it is far from roads and from any streams with good flows of water).


Frank

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Re:growing in high pH 4 years 4 months ago #22833

Thanks for the responses so far. Frank, this site has absolutely no problems with precip or drainage.

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Re:growing in high pH 4 years 4 months ago #22846

vafiddler wrote:

Thanks for the responses so far. Frank, this site has absolutely no problems with precip or drainage.


Has the property been subject to a wildfire in the last 5 to 10 years? With acceptable precipitation and drainage on the property, then wood ashes or an underlayment of Limestone of which you are unaware or both, are generally the only things that could explain the high PH levels. The addition of some good clean top soil that has not been subject to the burning of trees and downed logs should bring down the PH levels somewhat. It might be best to create hills from the above in which to plant and to keep the effects of the high PH soil from interfering with Ginseng plant growth. Hopefully without any wildfires, the original soil's PH levels will come down in a few years.


Frank

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Re:growing in high pH 4 years 4 months ago #22848

Black Truffles now that is a topic that is interesting. Very profitable if soil conditions are correct and you can expect harvests every year after they begin to grow on your tree roots. This is less thought about than any other mushroom I believe. Just like ginseng if your have 5-10 years you will see nice returns.

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Re:growing in high pH 4 years 4 months ago #22849

WVwhitewolf wrote:

Black Truffles now that is a topic that is interesting. Very profitable if soil conditions are correct and you can expect harvests every year after they begin to grow on your tree roots. This is less thought about than any other mushroom I believe. Just like ginseng if your have 5-10 years you will see nice returns.


X2! I am with you on this one! Not having any land to plant and tend Ginseng, I am stuck with a few parcels of land owned by relatives and National Forest Land. However, with Ginseng Poachers and Ginseng poaching being rampant here, one needs to plant something that many of the thugs would hopefully have no idea as to what they are and cannot see since they grow below ground. I am thinking that Black Truffles are the ticket and the grounds are perfect for them as many of the National Forest Lands nearby are subject to prescribed burns every 10 years or less and are sometimes subject to wildfires which keep PH levels very high. The question is, can Black Truffles survive in a fairly harsh winter environment where temperatures can dip to -10 below zero or colder at times and heavy snows? I am hoping that someone with knowledge of growing Black Truffles can answer this question! WVwhitewolf...I would imagine that you would want this answer to this question since you live in a State with similar and sometimes worse weather conditions.


Frank

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Re:growing in high pH 4 years 4 months ago #22851

Although, I haven't grown any truffles yet I've looked into it quite a bit and they can be pretty hardy. Getting down to -10 in the winter shouldn't be too much of an issue.

I've got some ideas to inoculate mature trees with truffles that I'll test out when ever I get some free time (harhar). Since the 5 to 10 year lag time in truffle production is waiting for the inoculated trees to grow big enough to produce truffles.

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Re:growing in high pH 4 years 4 months ago #22852

Truffles are grwn generally grown in an orchard/plantation setting. Without rechecking my facts, I believe they inoculate the roots of specific Oak species, maybe english oak, with the fungus, which then grows in symbiosis with the tree. NC Cooperative Extension has been doing some research on the subject and there are a few Black Perigord producers in North Carolina. All in all from what I have heard and researched there have been more failures than success stories. I think one of the main problems is that the fungus can tend to fizzle out after a few years and don't become fully established. I think the current research is looking to address that issue. Given that the cultivation method generally requires the planting of inoculated tree seedlings I doubt this would be something that you could produce on National Forest lands. Actually you don't need forestland at all, you would just start a orchard/plantation in a field/open site. I'd suggest checking into the North Carolina Research. Virginia Cooperative Extension may have some research on the subject as well for growing in the Eastern U.S.

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