Thursday, November 8, 2012
Growing Ginseng Hydroponically
Ginseng cultivation is a still new to the world of hydroponics, but growers from around the world have developed various methods to adapt this favorite woodland herb. The biggest reasons for this is ginseng's relatively long development time. Ginseng usually requires five years of growth before the root can be harvested. Researcher Thomas Li uses a method that is organic and will reduce ginseng's seed through harvest time to two years.
Acquire small black trash bags and ginseng seeds from a reliable source. Stratification is necessary for the seeds to germinate. If you are using ginseng berries just follow along with the instructions. If you have stratified seed you can skip step 3 in the process.
Fill the plastic bag or bags halfway with sand. Add a few ginseng seeds to each bag.
Place the bags in the refrigerator or freezer at 35 F. Keep them there for four months. This process is called stratification, and mimics what the seed would experience in its ideal natural environment--that is, being buried in soil over the fall and winter. You should keep the bag in a visible location so that you will remember to take the next steps in planting the ginseng seeds.
Make a growing media mix of 50 percent peat moss, 30 percent perlite, and 20 percent forestry sand. Fill root trainers (one for every three or four seeds) with one inch of small gravel and 7 to 8 inches of the growing media.
Bury three or four ginseng seeds in the growing media of each root trainer. Place the root trainers in a hydroponic irrigation system in a cool, shaded area. Ginseng requires a lot of shade, so if you are using artificial light use a low wattage. Keep the temperature between 68 and 72 F.
Irrigate weekly with a nutrient solution. Li used 0.5 g per liter of Organic Fish Fertilizer and 0.5 g per liter of Sea Weed Extract. Irrigate the plants with water between nutrient periods in order to keep the plant moist.
Irrigate with water only on every fourth week. This will wash away any nutrient solution residue from the plants.
Put the seedlings back into cold (35 to 40 F) storage after 20 weeks of growing. This will cause them to enter into a dormant state and will speed their maturation. Keep them in this state for 14 weeks.
Return the plants to the greenhouse for the remainder of the season, and resume normal nutrient feeding and irrigation. Repeat the cold storage process in the second year of the plants' growth. After two years, you will be able to harvest your ginseng.