Pictures of my "woodsgrown" ginseng...
Note on the pictures above...
All of the pictures above where taken on May 12th, 2009.
All of the plants you see above come from the same stock of seeds and roots that I sell on my website. I have been selling these seeds and roots going on 4 years. It has been my experience (with my seeds and roots) that approximately 80% of the seeds and 60% of the roots will successfully sprout the following year if you properly plant them.
I have been growing ginseng most of my life, and I've found that no matter where you get your seeds from, you can expect 25% of your plants to still be alive after 10 years. Some of the various reasons 75% of your plants will die are as follows (root-rot, fungus, pests, moles, theives, turkeys, draughts, ect). For example: if you plant 1,000 seeds in the fall, you can expect to have about 250 plants to harvest 10 years later. That's actually not too bad, considering 250 woodsgrown plants should fetch anywhere from $500 to $900.
How to grow ginseng
Ginseng can be planted in any hardwood forest or backyard that is mostly shade. Plant seeds or roots in the Fall from Sept. 1st through February and it will sprout up in the spring. It can grow in any soil except southern Florida. Ginseng will not grow in a open field like corn or soy beans. It needs about 80% shade and the rotten leaves makes the perfect place.
Seeds can be planted individually throughout the woods, which is nature's way. The closer it grows in its natural environment, the more it has the characteristics of wild ginseng. When planted under lath sheds or other artificial shade, the roots are heavier in weight, are shaped differently, and they grow faster. The Chinese do not value the artificial shade grown roots as highly as the natural grown wild ginseng, but the roots being usually twice as heavy means that you get twice as many pounds and it sells for about 1/4 of the price per pound of the wild or less. The plant is the same in either case, but the difference in value comes in how it is grown.
Another method being used more extensively the last few years is to find a well shaded place in the woods and rake all the leaves to the side and broadcasting the seed lightly, then rake it in a little and cover it with mulch or use the leaves that you raked to the side, but donít use OAK leaves because they are too big and tough for the new plants to come up through. This method is much less time consuming than planting in rows. When planting in larger amounts it is best to grub out the brush where you are going to plant.
When planting in rows, plant the rows 8 to 10 inches apart and the seeds about 4 to 6 inches apart in the rows. Plant seeds 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep. As soon as planted, seeds should be covered with woods dirt. Seeds must never be left to get dry or they won't grow. After being planted and covered, then cover them with about a 1inch of mulch so the plant can come up through in the spring. That should be all you have to do to keep it growing, the next fall should take care of the mulching its self from the leaves falling if you picked a good natural forest area. Rotted leaves are best for mulch, never use straw or hay. It has too many other seeds in it that will grow like grass, weeds, and clover seeds. Mulch helps prevent heaving by frost and keeps ground from drying out and baking. It is good to leave some mulch on all the time. When planted throughout the forest, this is usually taken care of by nature by the leaves falling in the fall. Growing it commercially is good too, but involves quite a lot of expense, time, etc., but is profitable if one wants to make a business of growing it but remember you will only get a fraction of the price of wild-stimulated ginseng.
If you decide to grow ginseng in your backyard, pots, or in the woods keep it in a mostly shady area. Plant the seeds and cover it with about 1 inches of rotten leaves or mulch. Plant the seeds in the fall and they will sprout up in the spring. If you plant seeds in small plastic trays or peat trays you can transplant them when they become a couple of inches high. When planting in pots, use pots that are at least 8 inches deep and use only plastic not the clay pots. Clay pots seem to dry out more easily than plastic.
Be sure that your seng patch has at least 80% to 90% shade cover. If too much sun gets through, your patch will get choked out by grass and/or weeds... I spent alot of time clearing out this patch and building up the quality of the soil (and also planted 10,000 seeds), only to have the weeds choke out my ginseng. (TOO MUCH SUN)