2024 Summer/Fall Planting:

* Ginseng Seed: Accepting orders for pre-set shipping dates
* Ginseng Rootlets: Pre-orders accepted for fall shipment in October

The Case for Caution and Moderation

To accelerate growth, many growers work fertilizer into their soil as they prepare their beds. Others don't, because they know that the use of fertilizer can lower the resemblance of their roots to wild roots (making them less valuable per pound) and because they believe that accelerated growth will make their plants more susceptible to disease. This difference of opinion on the benefits of fertilization had existed since the beginning of American ginseng farming back in the early 1900's. Fortunately, if you have good rich woods dirt, whether you fertilize or not is unlikely to be critical to your success.

Wild ginseng grows where trees and weeds compete for the available soil nutrients and where the soil is deficient in nitrogen because it is "locked up" in the decomposition of leaves and woody tissue. It is not surprising, then fertilizing already moderately fertile soil does not greatly help a plant that is accustomed to going without.

I do encourage you to experiment initially with whatever fertilizer (chemical or organic) you've had success with in your vegetable garden. I've had fertilizer test plots in some beds since my second year's planting, weight or plant health. I continue to be interested, however, because some growers swear by their fertilizers and because it stands to reason that my soil is not perfect for ginseng and adding exactly the right combination of nutrients should help.

If you know your soil won't grow vegetables well or is deficient in some nutrients (especially if you're growing in open fields under artificial shade), then your ginseng will probably benefit from the proper fertilizer. It is know that moderate levels of nitrogen, magnesium, phosphorous, and calcium (already present in most fertile soils) benefit ginseng root growth. For example, fertilizer-especially nitrates-applied in dry weather (without irrigation) will result in heavy concentrations of sodium (Na, salt) at the root level. The salt will attract water out of the growing plant, thereby stressing it and making it susceptible to secondary blight infection. An excess of commercial fertilizer or lime can raise the soil pH too high, and a high pH is associated with ginseng root rot.

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