We got over and inch of rain last night. It has been a long long time over 4 weeks. I planted some Ginseng seed 3 weeks ago. I rake back the leaves then broadcast the seed and scratch them in with a garden rake, then I rake the leaves back on top. Last week I went to my spot to check on the ground moisture. The ground was very dry and some of my seeds were white and dried out on the outside. I floated a few in my water bottle and they did not sink so they are probably dead and will not germinate. I bet I lost 20% of what I planted. I usually wait until a good rain to plant seeds so I know the leaves will compact back down on the seed and hold the moisture in. Better yet if you plant when it is dry the leaves are easy to rake and move around as long as rain is in the forecast with a 70% chance or better. I am glad we got this rain and I hope it prevented anymore of my ginseng seeds from drying out. Time will tell. Leaves are great for holding moisture in obviously. However if it is dry out when you rake the leaves they do not do much good at holding moisture in when the ground is dry too. And once you rake the leaves back they are fluffy and air circulates and continues to dry the ground out. I know better but I wanted to plant. I should have waited until the rain came. Just some info if anyone is interested. The seeds are expensive and I hate the thought of losing some of them before they have had a chance to make it on their own after germinating.
That is a real run of bad luck Latt, I hate it for ya for I know you probably lost a few hundred dollars there. Im putting in fifteen lb this weekend and hope the weather cooperates for me but it is the time of year that I believe it will.
Thank goodness I had only planted 3 lbs that day. If it would have been 10 lbs then I would be really mad at myself more than I am already.
I hope this helps out any new ginseng seed planters. Broadcasting seed is a great way to get a lot of seed down and when conditions are right you get great germination. I usually wait until late Nov and early Dec to plant as we have more moisture typically than in late fall.
If you can get a rototiller in the woods you plant, that is a great way to go. Just till the top 2 or 3 inches only once you have the ginseng beds cleared off. Broadcast the seed as normal and you can really see the seeds fall down into the soil when you scratch them in with the garden rake. This is even better than broadcasting alone. Either way make sure you have enough leaves on the beds when you rake the leaves back to cover the seed beds completely. Good luck everyone.
I'm in the same boat as you are Latt. We have been in a major drought all summer long here, but I wanted to get some seeds in the ground before it froze. I kept checking the forecast for rain, but there was none on the horizon. I finally did a couple of plantings after we got some sprinkles, but until last night, it's been dry as a bone here.
I checked my seeds the other day too. Some of the ones I found on top were white as well. The gentleman I bought these seeds from said he went through similar conditions last year, but he still had pretty good germination. I'm hoping I at least get some out of the beds I did. He told me take one of the seeds and bite it in half, and if it was white on the inside the seeds was still good. When I bit mine in half, it was brown inside. I'm not too hopeful about my first two beds.
I know white dried out seeds are a sad thing to see. Your problem is probably just lack of rain. But I will share what I have found.
Back when I started out six and seven years ago in Wisconsin, my first two plantings lost alot to seeds drying out and mice and slug damage. The first years planting ended up with 20-25% surviving.
I think the biggest problem i had with dried seeds, is that too many of the seeds were left on top of the soil and not down into the soil. But I don't recall the soil being very dry. But the leves were very dry.
Since I moved to maine, I tried to make sure that the seeds were covered better with the soil. I noticed that any seeds that were left on top of the soil, by spring time most of those seeds were dried out. I think they somewhat get freezer burned between the soil and layer of leaves beneath all the snow. Our soil does not ever get very dry, except in the summer. We get an average of 33\" of rain a year, not counting the 9-10 feet of snow in the winter. This year we have gotten just over 37\" of rain so far. I wish I could send some your way.
Any way, the last four years I have used the hound dog hand cultivator and found churning up the top 1/2-3/4 inches of soil, it allowed the seed to fall a little deeper into the soil. Then after walking over every part of the bed with my boots, I would look for any seeds that are still laying on top of the soil. When I find a seed on top, I ust take my finger and poke it into the soil about 1/2\". Then if the soil does get dry on top, it's not killing as many seeds that would have been left on top of the soil to dry out. I know this is alot of extra labor on my part, but I do get about 85-90% germination. And usually the kids are the ones that poke the seeds into the ground.
I know there is that perfect combination of rain coming before and after you plant and some times the rain just wont come at the right times, so it puts the seeds at risk of drying out. But thats the chance we have to take.
Did you try cutting open any of the seeds that floated? Sometimes seeds can be dehydrated enough that they will float, but are still viable seeds. If the shell is dry but the inside is still plump, it would still float and yet still be a good seed if moiture is brought back to it.
That's some great information about the seed. I left one of the floaters in the bottle and it sunk after I checked it the next morning as I forgot it was still in my water bottle. So I hope you are right and some of those seeds that I think are dead are still alive inside the seed husk or shell and this rain will save me. I have a heavy duty tiller but I will look into the Hound dog hand tiller. Is it smaller and more mobile? I agree getting the seeds 1/2 to 1 inch below the surface is the best way to go hands down. I have had some great success broadcasting without tilling first and the weather made that happen. However it is hit and miss as I have had some not so great results. I planted 5 lbs 5 weeks ago and used the tiller and it was an extra step that didn't add that much more time to the process and I loved it. I think the tiller is the only way to go. I see that you are only tilling the very top of the soil as well just to let the seeds get down into the soil and that is important to anyone trying this. Any deeper and one would end up with woods cultivated roots verses wild simulated. Thanks for the info and I hope to put 10 or more lbs in before the snow falls and I am taking the tiller with me for sure.
That's encouraging to hear that the seed sank to the bottom. I would try splitting it open and see if it's still white and healthy looking. The embryo at one end of the seed is the part that needs to be healthy and not shriveled up.
Here is a link to the cultavator I use. Ive used it four years now.
The thing I like about it, is that the handle adjusts out to 55\". My 12 yr old son can use it very easily and the handle adjusts to fit his height. I personally don't like the idea of tilling deeper than 1-1 1/2\". But I'm kinda stuck in my way of doing things.
That's exciting to think that your seeds might just make it after all. Especially with getting some rain right Now!