The Q&A Archives: Growing Ginseng

Question: Send me the instructions on starting ginseng. I'm only 74 so I still have time.

Answer: Whew! Here goes! Good luck!

The soil that Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) is grown in must be fairly light and well fertilized with woods earth, rotted leaves or fine bone meal, with the bone meal applied at the rate of one pound to each square yard. Seed is planted in spring as early as the soil can be worked to advantage. It is placed 6 inches apart each way in the permanent beds or two by six inches in seedbeds, and the seedlings are transplanted to stand six to eight inches apart when two years old. The roots of ginseng plants, especially in woodland, are sometimes damaged by mice. Protection from these rodents may be necessary. The beds should at all times be kept free from weeds and grass and the surface of the soil slightly stirred whenever it shows signs of caking. A winter mulch should be applied when freezing weather begins and removed early in spring.

The root should be collected only in autumn, when it will be plumpest after drying.

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