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TOPIC: Soil Amendments for Best Possible Seed Producing Bed

Soil Amendments for Best Possible Seed Producing Bed 13 years 7 months ago #5579

Hey Guys,

I have a north/east facing hillside just off my back yard (about 50 yards from my back porch steps) that has a little maidenhair fern and bainberry growing on it (but had no seng).

There is some seng on down the hollow a bit just not any growing that close to this spot just off my back yard.

Last fall I transplanted 10 roots (small 2 prongs) up to that area and 9 of them came up this spring, and some came up small 3 prongs. They did fine thru this summer where we have sure had some long hot/dry spells so I think seng will probably do Ok if I plant some in that area.

I am going to plant some stratified seed in that area and on down the hollow and in several other hollows that have favorable conditions here on my property this fall/winter.

One thing I wanted to try was to establish a bed where I could transplant some big roots (nice 3's and 4's) to get me a seed producing bed going.

Last Saturday I spent a couple hours with a grubbing hoe/mattox and worked up a good sweat. I broke up a 7' wide x 12' long bed (running up/down the hill) and the area has a fairly gentle slope. I just left all of the old leaf litter in place and choped it into the dirt. Then I raked that 7' wide area up towards the center to produce a raised bed that is around 4' wide X 12' long.

I will try to get out today and take a pic of it and post it so you can see exactly what I have starting off with.

The dirt there (like most of our area) is mostly clay, but has a decent layer of that dark brown mulch from the leaf litter composting naturally over the years. There were quite a few roots and some fairly big rocks in there that I removed while breaking it up. I only removed the larger rocks and left smaller ones in there (think that is good for minerals/calcium) so I did not want to remove all of them.

I also made a trip last Saturday to the next county and picked up a couple bags of gypsum. None of our local stores had any.

I am going to work in a good dose of gypsum and we have a local garden center that has a very nice bacto potting soil mix (which I use for starting tomatoes in the spring and they love it) and it is sort of a composted peat moss mixture that is very dark/rich. I think I am going to work into that bed about 80-120 lbs of that stuff to add organic matter.

I don't mind at all putting a little $$$ into this spot - it will sort of be a special place for me to go out and see a few nice 3's and 4's (about any time I want from spring to late fall) and I also want to be able to produce my own seed for planting my place for several years to come.

I am going to make a trip down to a bluff that has a lot of that loose flaky rock (we call em shale rock chips) and get a few 5 gal buckets of that and work it into the bed.

Other things I may add include Epson Salt (good source of magnesium) and green sand which is often used by organic gardners to add multiple mineral supplements to garden soil.

Are there any other soil amendments that you would recommend for making up the ultimate ginseng growing bed ?



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Re:Soil Amendments for Best Possible Seed Producing Bed 13 years 7 months ago #5582

in my neck of the woods we have limestone out cropings. I gather up small to mediun chunks in buckets and throw them in the beds after I have planted. They to to love it.Just a thought

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Re:Soil Amendments for Best Possible Seed Producing Bed 13 years 7 months ago #5584


Why would you add anything to the soil before you get a soil test done to find out what its lacking?

Then you will know what the soil needs.

Gypsum will raise the calcium level whithout raising the PH. In total I have about 1/2 an acre planted with wild simulated plants. Only the top 1 inch of soil broke up with the Yard Weasel that has 6 Tined wheels on it. The majority of my soil showed that the calcium level was about 950 lb per acre. They should be atleast 3000 lbs per acre. So I added Gypsum to these areas to raise the calcium levels. A couple of areas had 2600 lbs per acre and I added nothing. Most of my roots seem to be doing best in the area where I did'nt add anything.

I would get the soil test first. Our Local State College does tests for $18. I just mail it to them and a week later I have the results.

I also think that the more you dig up the soil, the more they will look like Ordinary Cultivated Roots.

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Re:Soil Amendments for Best Possible Seed Producing Bed 13 years 7 months ago #5590


That flakey bluff rock that I mentioned I planned to add must be about the same as what you mentioned. I found some really good seng growing in it so I am going to add some of that.

I may also put some drywall board (gypsum board) pieces in the bed to to provide a continuous supply of gypsum (calcium). Each time it rains on it, should make a little more gypsum available.


I have sent off the soil test, but ours has to go to Nashville TN and per or Local Agg office it can take up to 2 weeks go get that back.

I do have a PH tester and the PH shows 5.8 so I should be Ok on that. Scott recommends a low ph in the 5.0 range but I have seen others recommend up in the 6.5 range.

Hopefully my 5.8 will be Ok there.

Also - I am only talking about this one seed producing bed that I am going to spruce up like this, not my entire 30 acres.

I also know what Ginseng does on this 30 acres already - it grows Ok, but does not really flourish. I have never found a 4 prong in the woods here (only on that bluff where the soil is full of those flakey rock chips).

Fairly sure that means that most of the woods soil around here is a bit lower on calcium than seng likes.

There is some maidenhair fern and bainberry so has to be some calcium present, but it may be in the 1000-2000 lbs per acre range instead of up in that 4000-5000 range where Scotts book shows seng does best.

I will know for sure when the soil test comes in but in this small 4x12' seed producing bed I figure it can't hurt to go ahead and load it up on gypsum and rock chips.

Also on the roots - I am not really worried about the roots in this bed. It is for producing seed. I am going to transplant wild roots (nice 3 or 4 prong plant roots) into this bed and space them out about 1' each.

I figure I can get around 33 plants in the bed at that spacing, and if I eventually get 30-40 berries off each one that will be (around 2000 seeds) of my own wild grown seed that I can plant here on my place.

Her is a pic of what I have got done so far:


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Re:Soil Amendments for Best Possible Seed Producing Bed 13 years 7 months ago #5614


I guess your blessed to be able to have an abundance of Free planting stock(roots).

It looks as though your soil is really dry right now. Perhaps transplant your roots after a good rain or water down the ground yourself before and after planting. Then again if you wait until the roots start going dormant( leaves turning yellow) then perhaps they won't have \"transplant Shock\".

As far as the Gypsum. You could wait until you receive the soil test back. And then broadcast the gypsum on top of the leaves(mulch)and let the rain wash it down into the soil. If the calcium is real low, like 1500 lbs per acre or lower I would also add some more on top of the leaves in the spring before the the roots emerge. Then do another soil test in the summer and compare that test to the first one and act accordingly.

I know for me, two applications of gypsum raised the calcium about 2000 lbs per acre more than what I had before.

Good luck and I look forward to the results.(soil tests) and how they grow next summer.

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Re:Soil Amendments for Best Possible Seed Producing Bed 13 years 7 months ago #5615


Yes - we are in the midst of another hot-dry spell.

No rain in almost 3 weeks now, but we have had a few nice cool mornings mixed in, but then still getting up into the 90's on most days the past couple weeks.

Good thing about this spot is I can put a couple of my longer garden hoses together and reach it for watering if conditions get extremely dry or for watering a time or two after transplanting roots.

I could also tote a 2 gal watering can down there easily and do some watering that way if needed.

I have some wheat straw that I am going to double thrash to make sure to remove all remaining seed and will mulch it good with that, and mix in some maple/poplar leaves. A good layer of mulch does wonders for keeping the soil moist.

I think I will also collect some of those larger flat bluff rock pieces and put a layer of them on top of the soil (just under the mulch) making sure they are far enough away from any roots so that it is not a problem for the top to emerge.

It is always cool/damp under a flat rock, especially one that has some mulch on top of it.

I have hunted the majority of my 30 acre spot already except one big hollow that has several nice 3 prongs in it (already been out there peaking at them) but saving that spot for me and my 8 year old son to hunt. Just waiting for one of those nice cool saturdays and for the leaves to start yellowing up a bit. That will be a excellent time for him to go on his first hunt. I told him that all we dig out of that hollow (except for a few nice 3's that we plant in that bed) he can have to dry and sell for his own. I will also get him involved in planting a few of those nice 3 prong roots in that bed.

Hopefully in the next couple of weeks we can get that hollow hunted and some of that planting done.

Today my Wife and Daughter are going shopping (13 year old daughter has to have some new fall clothes). She is growing like a weed - nearly 4 inches in the past year. Already 4 inches taller than her mother. (Takes after me / my side of the family - taller).

Since they are going out shopping, I am taking my son fishing here in a little bit. Good catfish spot where we usually bring home a few 5 pounders.

It's going to be a good day.

Hope you all have a good one!


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Re:Soil Amendments for Best Possible Seed Producing Bed 13 years 7 months ago #5619

Had a good time out fishing this morning.

Turkey Livers did the trick.

My son called this one a \"Monster\" :-)

He had some serious fun !



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Re:Soil Amendments for Best Possible Seed Producing Bed 13 years 7 months ago #5620

I also made a stop by one of my sang hunting spots where some big healthy sang grows in that rocky soil and got me 2 - 5 gal buckets of that rocky stuff right out from under a big chunk rock.

Going to spread that out over my 4 x 12' bed and work it into the top 2-3 inches of the soil.

I think I will go back and get another 10 gal of that stuff - man I know the seng loves it !

Below is a pic of what I am talking about...

There was some huge/healthy bainberry growing just out from under that rock.



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Re:Soil Amendments for Best Possible Seed Producing Bed 13 years 7 months ago #5648

I ended up going back and getting several more 5 gal buckets of that rocky soil under that chunk rock.

Ended up putting a total of 30 lbs of that on top of that 4x12 bed and worked it into the top 2-3 inches of the soil.

In Scotts book he suggest 5 lbs of gypsum per 100 sq ft.

My bed is 48 sq ft, and I added 5 lbs of gypsum.

Next Spring I will take another soil test and see how the calcium levels were affected by adding all of that rocky soil and the gypsum.

I would love to have calcium levels at 5000-6000 or more.

I am sure that rocky soil is just full of calcium and other minerals so I don't plan to add anything else to the bed at this point except for some organic matter and then some nice wild roots and mulch.

We'll see how it looks next spring/summer.


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Re:Soil Amendments for Best Possible Seed Producing Bed 13 years 7 months ago #5682


What kind of rocks are those?

The rock chips you picked up looks alot like what my woods soil is loaded with. Good soil. The rocks you have look to be granite or slate which would have very little if any calcium in it, but will have minerals. If it is Limestone it will be loaded with calcium. Which will also raise your PH level. According to Scott Persons book, a lower Ph will have less problems with disease.

Did you mix the Gypsum in the soil or top dress it?

It will be interesting to see how the roots do over the next couple of years.

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