Hey Guys its me again. So I'm looking to grow some ginseng on some hills with pretty dense hardwood trees and good shade, very rich soil. However the oak trees present the biggest problem as it's about 50% oak. I'd like to know if any one has an experience on how to mulch the leaves to get them good to spread over the seeds? I know you can buy the smaller wood chippers, but someone said they shred the leaves into almost a powder, which i thought probably isn't ideal. Any experience on this subject or ideas would be appreciated! Thanks for making this such a great place to post questions!
I grow my ginseng in what I guess to be a 50% oak and 50% walnut forest. The oaks there are really old and I would say there trunk diameter is bigger than 60in. It really makes for good air flow because they offer such a high leaf canopy. However, the leaves make for terrible mulch in my opinion. They form a mat that can get soggy and small plants can't push through them. They are also supposed to make you soil really acidic but that has not been the case for me as my soil has tested at 5.9ph and 3000+ ppa of calcium.
When I plant I wait for the majority of my my oak leaves to fall in later autumn. Then I mulch them with my mulching lawn mower that turns them into very small fragments (so small I really don't notice them.) I come in and plant scratching up the soil with a garden rake or sometimes a modified version of the Hankins Method. After which I mulch with wheat or oat straw. Its not an ideal situation but I have had good results doing this.
I have grown goldenseal rhizome cuttings under oak leaves that I did not mulch with the mower. They came through the leaves with no problems but they were mature plants. I hope that as my ginseng plants mature they too will be strong enough to push through the unmulched leaves but time will tell.
I would say 60-70% oaks (mostly chestnut (we call them mountain oaks), white, red, black and post oaks)... then the other 30-40% is Hickory, Poplar, Maple, Ash, Persimmon, Sourwood, doogwood, beach, cedar, and lots of others in smaller percentages...
I have had good luck with standard rake and scatter methods... without doing anything special to the oak leaves. I regularly get good germination and a high percentage of nice 3 leafers that manage to make it thru.