I just thought I would throw this out and see what everyone thought. I'm not a lazy man, but by golly, I'm all for technology making my life easier. I'm thinking about this auger to see if it won't speed up the seed planting process.
My thinking was that I would still have to get my site cleared like before, but the next steps are where the equipment comes in. I could first take my leaf blower and clear all the leaves off my patch. This is so much easier than raking by hand. Then I could do one of two things. If I wanted to plant in rows, I could stretch some string between two stakes and have my seed distance marked on the string. I could then take the auger and make my holes along that string. I drop the seed in the holes, cover them over, and step on them to pack them down.
The other thing I could do is section my plot off in grids. Depending on the size of each grid, I could drill all the holes necessary to plant the right amount of seeds in each square. I drop the seeds in and pack the holes with my boot.
This is why I think it's a time saver. I spent so much time cultivating the soil in the plots I planted, but when you think about it, what percentage of that cultivated soil are you using to plant? Not very much. I think this will save labor by just working up the soil exactly where you want to plant. To keep the depth consistently where you want it, all you would need to do is measure on the auger you preferred depth and paint right above it.
One last benefit of this system is that I would feel comfortable using my leaf blower to cover the plot back over. I would think with the seeds being buried, there's virtually no chance of them being blown away.
I would love to hear your guys thoughts on this subject. Heck, I may just try it for something to do.
I am sure the auger would work nicely for making a hole but in a bed say 4'x50' if you did a 4x6\" spacing that is around 1200 holes to drill, then you have to put 1 seed in each hole, then cover each individual seed/hole with dirt.
The planting stick thing has a blade on the end for making the hole, then a pipe/tube you can drop the seed down into the hole with. Should accomplish about the same thing you were going to do with the auger.
Should eliminate most of the bending over too.
You could still blow the leaves off then back on with your leaf blower if you want, but to me that part of the job is not all that difficult and I don't mind using a regular ole leaf rake for that.
It is the cultivation part that is hard on me and my old back. One part of the rake/scatter method that I do like is after you get the soil worked up you just drop the seed best you can over the entire surface and don't have to be specific about where they land.
Just do your best to space them out like you want.
That makes it go much faster than making 1 hole, placing 1 seed, covering that hole would.
If I had some kind of power tool to help with the cultivation part, the rest of that method is Ok with me. Not too much work at all.
In Scott's book on page 86, he shows a budget for planting 12.5 lbs of seeds on 1/2 an acre of land. He says: 25 hrs time for preparation work + planting the seeds. He must work pretty fast. But he's been doing it for years.
Then he shows that it takes 350 hrs to harvest the roots off that 1/2 acre. That's roughly 15x the amount of time it takes to prep and plant. If it takes us, say two days to plant 1 lb of seeds. Then will it take us 15x the amount of time to dig the roots? That would be about 30 days to dig up the roots from the 1 lb of seeds.
And might I add that there is no power tool that I know of that will dig roots from a Wild simulated garden. Not only that, but we will all be, say 7-10 years older when we harvest. Will we be physically able to do that? I hope I will!
Just a thought.
Added: So hours wise, the planting process is the easy part according to Scott's book. Harvesting is where the majority of the labor takes place. But it's also the when we will \"Reap what we have sown\". And thats the fun part!
Classicfur, that's an interesting point you bring up. My thinking is the planting part is the most difficult. It's a lot of work getting the area prepped and planted. Even though harvesting may take more time than planting, that will be the fun part. I don't even know if I'll get ginseng to come up, so harvesting has been the furthest thing from my mind. It sounds like Scott is under the assumption that you will harvest every plant at the same time. If I do enjoy success, I don't know if I'll dig a little to supplement the wild ginseng I dig, or I will wait until there is a price spike and dig it all at once. You bring up some excellent points, Classicfur. It would be my kind of problem to have!
I'm going to give the auger a shot. I ordered it this morning. I have attached a picture of the plot I started working on. I'm going to break it up into 4'x4' sections. That means I'll need 80 seeds per section (5 per square foot). I'm starting to lay off the sections. As I make a section, I'm going through it getting all the sticks I didn't get with my blower, plus I'm giving it a thourough weeding. All I'm waiting on is some rain to come through and I'll be set. If this doesn't work, all I'm out is the cost of the seeds. I don't factor in my time.
On Scott saying it would take 350 hrs to harvest that 1/2 acre, He means that it would take 350 hrs whether you harvest it all at one time or spread the harvesting out over 2,3 or 4 years. 350 hrs combined to harvest the 1/2 acre. And he actually says that when you go to harvest, some areas will have roots/plants that grew real well and other areas will have roots/plants that did'nt grow as well or as quickly. So the first year he harvests the best plants and leave the smaller plants for another year or two. Also if you dig up roots that are too small, to replant them for another couple of years. But the harvesting time takes about 15x as much time as prep and planting does.
I know for me it takes about 6-12 hrs to prep enough area for planting 1 lb of seed. If you have Scotts book you will notice in pictures of areas he preps, he does not rake back the leaves at all. Just remove dead branches, loose rocks and saplings that are not necessary. As far as weeding, there should not be much weeds if any. Scott says that weeds are a sign of too much sunlight in that area. And you should choose another area to grow. And if you have any Herbacious plants or Ginseng's companion plants, those should be left alone or thinned out if there are too many.
It appears that your soil is dug up. But perhaps that's because it's so dry. As far as picking out sticks. The only sticks that should be removed are the one that are perhaps the size of your thumb or larger. Also when you put the leaves back over your planted seeds, you should leave all the twigs and smallers stick that are in the leaves. That helps your mulch from compacing as much, also adds air and nutrients to the mulch and makes it easier for the small seedlings to make their way through the mulch.
Most of my areas have been very easy to prepare. I have removed some medium sized trees to allow the proper sunlight. And that does take more time. I do not remove plant or tree roots, but I sometimes just will plant the seeds 10\" away from larger tree roots. If you look at pictures of Scott planting his seeds, you will see roots that he has left them alone.
From digging up afew of each year roots(1-4 yr olds) at the end of the season I have found that by leaving roots and rocks in the soil causes the ginseng roots to grow around those things and that gives it the wild twisty look.
I do think that - rake off/cultivate/scatter/rake on - is going to be the way to go.
The only part I would like to improve on is the work involved in the cultivation process.
I tried using a stirrup hoe and the garden weasel last time around and that combination worked nicely as far as working up the soil a bit but still was hard work. Breaking the woods type soil with roots and rocks is just not going to be easy no matter how you do it with hand tools.
Heck breaking nice garden soil (without roots and rocks) is not easy with hand tools. It is dang hard work.
That is why most gardners have tillers or have some work up their spot with a tractor.
That is the only part of the rake/scatter method that I would like to improve on if possible. It sure would be nice to crank up some type of power tool and get all of that bed surface worked up about 1\" deep in about 1/4 the time without really breaking a sweat or straining the old back.
If I do decide to get a mini cultivator I may try out one of the sthil products - we do have a dealer here in town for those, and I do need one for the garden anyway.
If I do get one I will sure get out in the woods and give it a try and may video that and upload to youtube so you guys can check it out.
On the auger thing.
When I did my first planting using the Hankins Method I dug 4 - 100' trenches 1\" deep with a grubbing hoe.
Talk about some work !
I think if I were going to do that method again (doubt it seriously), that using the auger would have been just as good, possibly better way to get that done.
But now if cultivating and dropping seeds on top works out OK, no need to do all of that digging with a hoe or auger.
I will know for sure next spring, have comparison beds side by side in the woods with both methods.
I believe if you follow scotts method. It's rake off, quickly Scratch it with the rake again to give the soil a little texure, scatter, rake on. All that is necessary is to loosen the very top layer of soil so the seeds can make better contact with the soil. Thats how Scott describes his method. And thats the diffrence in making the job easy or difficult.
You can cultivate as deep as you wish, but according to Scotts method it is not neccessary. Just Scratch the surface of the soil. I have had success also with just lightly loosening the surface of the soil. It's easy this way.
Thanks again for the info. I'm right on track with a lot of Scott's suggestions. You're right when you say the soil looks dry. It's dry as a bone on top. I would mention though, that this patch is probably some of my top dirt for growing ginseng. You can't see it in the picture, but behind that rotten stump, there is a very small spring down over a slight hill. When you get within 3 or 4 feet of the run off, that dirt is good and black and moist. Some of my best wild ginseng grows in this area.
When I say I was going to give the plot a good weeding, there's not many weeds at all. I meant it more as a general term. That is getting all of the small saplings, the few weeds that are there, plus the few clumps of grass that have grown. Overall, it's a pretty clean bed. The saplings are the thickest thing in there. I'm right on track with the sticks too. Anything of decent size comes out. If it's what I call a twig, I just let it lay. Same with blowing the leaves back on. I'm not too concerned with smaller sticks finding there way back in.
One thing I'm not going to do is remove the ginseng's companion plants. You can see in the picture there a few ferns in there. I was planning on chopping those out, but based on your recommendation, I'm going to leave them in and plant around them. Also, there are some roots in there. I don't know what Scott said about planting right next to them, but in previous plantings, I had no qualms about getting seeds close to them. I figured if they grow next to roots in nature, they'll do the same planted.
I have about two and half hours in the bed so far. I figure another hour and half to two hours and it will be ready for planting. I'm going to try my auger to see if I like it better than scattering. I just think about my previous plantings where I scattered. I stepped on every square inch of the plot to make sure I didn't miss a seed. That took a lot of time. With an auger, you have a certain number of small holes, and that is all you need to pack down. I think that will save me a lot of time.
Thanks again for your input. I always welcome the chance to kick it around with you.