I emailed Kelly and here is what I asked her, and her response.
I bought some Plant Helper(flowable) back in November of last year. Me and a few growers from the Wildgrown Ginseng forum are wondering what the best ways to apply the plant helper to our ginseng beds in the woods.
We are mostly concerned with beds that were seeded last fall and will be germinating this spring. These beds have a covering of leaves about 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick. To protect the seedlings from Damping Off and other diseases, would it be o.k. to apply(spray) plant helper on top of the leaves, or would it be better to rake the leaves aside and spray the soil? We are hoping in not having to rake all the leaves off our ginseng beds in order to spray with plant helper. But what's best for a first application?
Also, would it be a good idea to spray the soil when we sow the seeds in the fall before we rake the leaves back onto the beds?
We have a few growers that are interested in plant helper, but would like to know how to apply it.
Any advice you can give us, would be great!
Ideally it would be good to spray the soil but I think if you drench the leaves enough it should penetrate them and get down to the soil, wouldn't you think?
Please yes by all means spray the soil when you plant. This will give you a first line of defense against the pathogens. Getting as much of the Trichderma in the soil as possible can only be a good thing, building up the colonies will only be advantagous.
Remember we also have the Granular formulation that may aslo work for getting through the leaves. I hoped this helped, please let me kinow if you have any questions or problems and let me know how Plant Helper is working out for you.
TN, what you said about applying before a rain sounds like it wouyld work well.
Thanks for sending that email and sharing the repsonse from here.
It sounds like she it not really sure about that.
But on their website where they gave the detail of the test on ginseng - they cast the seed then covered with straw (assume they did that in the fall), then in the spring before seedlings emerged they applied the product one time, then about a month later they applied it again.
It did not mention removing the straw before spraying so I expect they just sprayed it right on top of the straw. No doubt after teh seedlings were up they did not attempt to remove the straw and spray the soil direct.
I bet it will be fine to just apply it on top of the leaves, or perhaps first thin your leaves out (down to about 1\" lose cover) and then apply the product.
I personally would not feel good about raking all of the leaf litter off because seeds (seedlings - probably more advanced in sprouting) are just under there and I would not want to disturbe them.
I am sure this is one of those things it will just take a bit of time and experience with to get it down right.
I think spraying on top of straw would allow most of it to reach the soil compared to spraying on top of the leaves would leave alot of the spray puddled on top of the leaves.
I personally don't like the idea of raking the leaves off the beds. But with my seeds that are planted close to the area I previously had damping off problems, I think it's best to do it that way. I would feel more at ease if I had applied plant helper at the time I planted the seeds. For the rest of my newly planted beds I think I will just spray a heavier dose as Kelly suggested on top of the leaves. I'm not to concerned with these other beds so much, since they are in areas where previously planted seeds had 80% or higher germination rate.
I will definately spray the soil when I plant seeds again. This way there will be some protection on the soil come spring time, then spray on top of the leaves in the spring.
Hey guys, I am going to fluff up the leaves carefully as to not damage any seedlings that may be sprouting and then spray before it rains. I know the active ingredient in Plant Helper survives in the dry medium that it is mixed with in packaging so I am thinking it will survive on dry leaves too. But I like the idea of spraying before a rain so the rain can wash it down into the soil.
I would like to spray as soon as the snow melts so I do not have to worry about damaging any sprouting sang. I figure I have until early April to get this done.
On an side note, last weekend it was 20 degrees in East Central Ohio with about 4 inches of snow on the ground in the woods. I took the shovel and scooped the snow off to get to the surface of the soil in the woods I planted in. I had previously posted that I dug up 15 1-year rootlets. The shovel went right into the ground with no trouble. As you know the snow insulates the soil and I am sure snow cover is a good thing during the cold winter for ginseng. I would have suspected the ground to be a bit more frozen but it wasn't.
I know ginseng farmers use clean straw often and they do not remove it before the seedlings emerge in the spring. They lay it down really thick in the fall after planting and just let it go. One grower puts it down at least 8'' thick. He told me it decomposes and does better than leaves in his opinion. He said the straw needs to be free of weed seeds and disease and he is very particular where he buys his straw.
He said he likes the way the ginseng seedlings make their way up through the gaps between the woven straw. I am sure it would be important to get the straw put on correctly to avoid clumping or matting.
I have never used it personally but I would not be opposed to it if it is good quality straw.
On a second side note, I have always been interested in mulching the leaves before doing the rake and scatter method. However I have never done this before in the woods. I think it would be helpful to run a lawn mower over the leaves and ruff cut them. I am sure the blades would take a pounding on all of the twigs and branches but as long as the big stuff is picked up it might be OK.
One could either bag them or just ruff cut them where they lay. An old self propelled mulching push mower would be a good tool to achieve this. You could run it up and down the bed mulching the leaves in the bed prior to the rake and scatter method. Then the seedling would have a great chance at pushing their way through the leaf litter the following spring and I bet the mulched leaves would hold moisture really well too. I am going to try this this coming fall before I plant. I have an old self propelled mulching mower that is ready to be sacrificed for ginseng planting and I think I can get it in and out of the woods.
I have about a four week window when the ground has started to thaw out and the four to five weeks later the seeds actually start growing out of the soil. From what I have obseved over the years, my soil is very compact and tight after five months of snow pack sitting on top of the soil. It's pretty easy for me to carefully remove the leaves without disturbing any of the seeds.
But with your soil, I've heard you say it's soft and easy to work after a snow. It would probably be difficult for you to remove the leaves without disturbing the seeds. And you definatly don't want to be stirring the seeds up after they have been carefully covered with the right amount of soil when you planted the seeds.
So like you said. For you it's probably best to remove excess leaves so you have about 1\" of mulch and then spray a heavy dose on top of the leaves.
Your probably fine even if you did'nt apply anything. I know mine were coming up great for years without any problems and not applying anything. But once you experience an area not coming up, you will go to great measures to make sure it does'nt happen again. Fortunately my losses have been small compared to how much I have growing.
I like the idea of using straw. The biggest problem with using straw for wild simulated is it puts a big red flag up. It's like putting a BIG sign on your seng beds saying \"IT'S PLANTED HERE! Leaves are more discrete.
If you do use straw, make sure it's straw and not hay. I know someone that thought hay was the same as straw and ended up with so many weeds coming up that it took him years to get it under control.
I have tried mulching my leaves with a lawn mower and found to get good germination with that method. But for the past four years I have just used whole leaves 1\" thick and have had 80% or higher germination rate. Its not worth my time to shred the leaves when I get that high of germination rate. But shredded leaves do work well.
You are right about plant helper. Even if dried out, it would not kill the spores. Kelly said you cant kill it, even if it freezes. It's an amazing stuff. I look forward to some positive results.
Are you spraying plant helper on first year seedlings and on two yr olds? I know you said you treated some of your seeds before planting. Did you also spray the soil after planting those seeds? Also, will you be spraying on those beds with treated seeds in the spring or just the beds that have untreated seeds?
I am going to wait until mid to late April to spray my one and two yr olds.
Im getting excited for the growth season to begin! I bet your excited too!
I have only treated the last 10 lbs of seed I bought thus far. I have not sprayed in the woods yet. I plan on spraying everything which includes my 1, 2 and 3 year old planting beds. These beds make up 80 % of what I have planted. I am going to leave the 4 year and older plants alone for now but I wouldn't be surprised if I change my mind down the road.
I am excited to see the sea of green. Nothing like it for sure when you are standing there looking at thousands of ginseng babies. I can only imagine what it looks like when they get older.