I don't think Hardings seng could be certified organic.
He told me that he did not know of anyone that was actually selling seng certified as organic and he did not think you could actually successfully grow seng without spraying chemicals.
He told me he sprays Captan pre-emergance and then sprayed with other chemical protectants regularly (in spring after each significant rain) and best I remember he mentioned Maneb as one of those.
After talking to Larry I was sort of down a bit, because he basically told me that you could not grow seng without spraying chemicals to control the diseases.
But now Larry also told me he did not do soil test, did not check calcium levels, did not add gypsum, he did not know what the PH of his soil was and that he plants it thick and makes use of all available space.
Who knows his place may not have calcium or phosphorus levels high enough, or PH low enough to grow healthy seng without disease problems, especially at the seeding rate he uses and with large beds, densly populated.
I was sure tempted to go out and buy some captan and spray my beds after talking to him but decided against that.
If I do spray anything on my seng beds - I have made up my mind that it will be something certified organic.
I know for sure that organic methods work and work well if used properly. For example I never use chemical fertilizers or pesticides on my garden and I grow excellent healthy garden plants each year, corn, tomatoes, squash, onions, lettuce, peas, okra, etc and use nothing but my own compost, bone meal, blood meal, epson salt and proper plant spacing.
Giving the plants enough room is very important to their overall health.
When you plant too close and they get crouded that brings on stress and when plants get stressed then all kinds of other problems come on, insect pets and other diseases attack.
Hey I looked around online this morning and found an nice Homeowner Fungicide Guide and it list both chemical (Captan, Maneb, many others) and Organic options too and also mentions pesticide options too.
I think that the way Harding plants his seng so close together, that he has no choice but to spray. From the pics on Hardings site, I see no difference in his plantings compared to cultivated artificial shade plantings, except harding has trees for shade. They both plant their seng very close together.
If you space out your seeds 4-5 per sq ft as recommended in Persons book, I feel that you have a far better chance of not having diseased plants that require spraying.
Here is a list of pests and diseases with the recommended chemicals to use on Ginseng. They do not list much for organic treatments except Azoxystrobin.
It's all very interesting. I wondered about that intensive planting that Larry does, as well, and about the spraying.
I was planning on doing the wholly organic thing with my patches as well. I'm glad to hear tht there are others that are taking that approach successfully, such as ClassicFur and TNHunter. I really didn't want to have a significant investment in chemical sprays a'tall.
However, I will not hesitate to spray some if needed.
Good post, all I can add is that for ya'll that haven't been out to Larry's, it's worth the trip. When I stopped through he was generous with his knowledge, happy to show me and my buddy around his spread and he hooked us up because we came by in-person with cash. On top of that he's full of great stories and it's a beautiful part of the country for a road trip.
One more thing, based on what I'd seen out at the Harding farm and what Larry had mentioned about disease, I've always planted my patches with the plants spaced further apart. I remember he mentioned that the lack of air flow and ventilation promotes blight and disease when you plant close together. He showed me a big patch by his barn that was not only wiped out from blight but he said sang would never grow there again. What I gathered from the visit was that if you are going to do this for a living, you want to space plants closely for profit's sake but you will need to spray and monitor your patches daily. If you want to do this as a hobby, space the plants farther apart. Just my impression though.
I'd like to see Larry's farm, I'm sure it would be an education on what the big operation is like, as well as details about sang growing. He seems like a pretty nice guy on the phone.
I'd also like to see other successful operations, however not too sure when that'll happen. Paticularilly, Scott Person's place since he wrote the \"bible\" on it. However I understand that he doesn't have a large growing operation going now.
Hmmm... intensive planting for $$$-making, or less intensive plantings for hobby?
I visited his website and do see a Organic Certification mentioned there for Ginseng and Goldenseal.
He did tell me that he sprays every year except for the last year (year of harvest). He also said that in that last year when he does not spray he does not collect the berries from those plants because they will be diseased.
I don't see how any crop that takes multiple years to mature, could be sprayed with chemicals for multiple years, then not sprayed in the last year and then harvested as certified organic.
Don't seem right to me.
If he is using copper based fungicides that stuff can build up in the soil to dangerous levels (copper is a heavy metal) and toxic to animals including humans.
In Scotts book he mentions spraying if the plants are touching each other. I guess this is for woods cultivated, but blight could still be a problem in wild simulated plantings. I think it would be a good idea to keep some chemicals on hand in case there is a problem.