And I’m putting companion plants in the side pockets of those strawberry jars with a ginseng plant on top. This is an experiment, but I hope it works and the plants like growing in them because I think it would be a great market item if they do well.
Today’s main goal was transplanting the goldenseal that I dug yesterday into pots so I can bring them to market. The tops aren’t showing above-ground anywhere yet, but the unfurling is quietly beginning beneath the dead leaf cover. If you’re planting them in the ground, the steps are the same, just skip the pot.
Fill the pot 2/3 full.
Spread out the roots on top of the soil. If it’s a large rhizome, the root should be mostly horizontal with the bud pointing skyward.
Cover the roots but leave the bud exposed. When you’re done with this step, cover the pot and bud with crumbled dead leaves.
Here’s some of my other posts to do with goldenseal and other herbs:
Other Plants Sprouting and Unfurling or Blooming in the Nursery
The blue cohosh seeds appear to have sprouted, at least, and the bloodroot is already up and blooming. And the Dutchmen’s Breeches are blooming, too. It’s too bad these won’t be still in bloom by the time the market starts. I’ll have to print and laminate a picture of them so people can know what to expect if they’ve never seen them before. The bloodroot might still be in bloom, but maybe not.
I created a couple of pages about ginseng on the site today that you might find interesting. Since they don’t post automatically to the social media or go out to subscriber’s inboxes, I thought I should also post them here:
Arnold is a spring chicken. He hatched from an egg, along with his three nestlings way back in October (I think). The clutch of eggs that had hatched shortly before his fell prey to a large black rat snake. You might remember my FB post about that. It takes about six months from hatch to first egg or crow.
We weren’t sure whether Arnold was a he or a she, but had our suspicions. Yesterday he crowed for the first time and confirmed his identity. Oddly, this was a joyful occasion here at Wild Ozark. It was pretty exciting to witness the coming of age of a rooster.
Arnold, the new rooster kid on the block.
The day before, one of his nestlings laid her first egg and that was a sweet find too. A hen’s first egg is about half the size of a full-sized egg. The first egg a mature hen lays in spring, if she pauses for a winter break, is also smaller than usual, but not as small as the very first egg she lays in her life.
A new hen’s first egg as compared to a mature hen’s egg.
I don’t normally name the chickens. “Arnold” is Rob’s doing. I don’t even name our cats and had to come up with something for one of them at the last minute last year when I brought her to the clinic to be spayed. I guess the dogs and horses should feel lucky to have names. I’m not sure why I don’t name the other animals in my life.
Hopefully this new roo won’t have the same problem with danger discrimination the old roo used to have. I have literally knocked the old one out three times. He kept jumping on me and the grandkids, hurt me pretty badly on the wrist with his spurs once. So I swung my trusty walking stick and took care of him. I thought I’d killed him the first time I knocked him out, but he woke up several hours later, much contrite. Nowadays he gives wide berth when I walk through the flock and I’m glad I didn’t have to really kill him because he’s a good roo otherwise.
Some of the other hens and the old rooster in our flock.
Ever wondered how much an author makes per book or product through Amazon? Royalties aren’t bad for books and e-books. I get 70% on the ones that are listed exclusively through Amazon if the price is over $2.99, and 35% for those I want to be available anywhere else. So, for example, Sustainable Ginseng is listed at $2.99 (e-book). I get 35% royalties on that title, which leaves me $1.05 per e-book sold after fees are subtracted.
But publishing a DVD with them using my own ISBN (the identifier for a book that will designate Wild Ozark as the publisher instead of Amazon) is another story entirely unless I charge double what I’d intended for the DVD.
Here’s the story on that.
The Original Plan
So I thought I would offer those DVD’s I’ve been working on for $10. That’s a fair price with a fair profit margin after subtracting the cost of supplies, postage, and the time I put into it. Figured I’d do business with Amazon as I usually do with my e-books and print titles. I always want to broaden my reach. Boy I got a huge surprise when I visited Createspace to see into the details.
If I publish them for $10, then I’ll see about $0.50 on each sale. There’s a $4.95 charge for each one and then they take an additional 45% cut of the sale price. YIKES!
I understand the $4.95 surcharge. They have to cover their expenses, because they POD and package them to ship. But there’s no way I can make a living on those wages! I had to come up with a solution.
So here’s the plan.
I’m going to sell them each for $20. Both the USB and the DVD. I’ll have to use this price at my website too, or it’ll seem to be a drastic undercut to Amazon’s prices. But subscribers to my newsletter will get a coupon that puts the cost of them right back down to the original $10 for a DVD and $12 for the USB if ordered from the Wild Ozark shop.
If you want to sign up for the newsletter now, there’s a link on the side-bar under the cover image for the DVD.
If you’re a current subscriber considering purchasing this product, be sure to let me know so I can get the coupon to you. New subscribers will get it on the confirmation email after signing up.
Here’s the video trailer I have over at YouTube to advertise the DVD/USB:
I woke before dawn and dragged myself downstairs to get back to work where I’d left off with some last minute edits on the DVD near midnight last night. As the coffee brewed and my eyelids gained motivation to remain open I noticed it was becoming a very beautiful morning in the Ozarks.
The PawPaw tree is a ginseng companion plant, or ginseng indicator plant. It often grows where ginseng grows, but is also often found in areas with more sunlight. Here at Wild Ozark it is a fairly good indicator of great ginseng habitat, but it also grows prolifically on the edge between forest and field, marking places where the forest beyond the boundary has proper habitat.
The photo below is a PawPaw flower bud. It is a frame in the American Ginseng & Companions slide-show. Later in the season the flower will open completely and the color will be a deep burgundy red.
“There’s a “between” space where the ginseng habitat and the surrounding ecosystems meet. It’s the boundary between one kind of place and another, like a doorway or threshold. The ginseng habitat and the surrounding hardwood forest, the forest and the field, or that transition space where mountains meet the ocean, plains, or desert sands — all liminal spaces of a physical sort that speak to the soul of those who enjoy crossing and lingering along such lines.” – QUOTE FROM AMERICAN GINSENG & COMPANIONS
The sounds of spring fills the night air now. Spring Peepers are calling!
The only visible signs of spring so far as I can see are the bits of wild onion grass growing with a bit more spright than usual. And the chickweed is making my garden look like it already needs to be weeded.
Soon, though, the early bloomers of the ginseng habitat will begin blooming. Every year I go to the woods to watch for them. If you’d like to see them too, I have a USB full of photographs of ginseng and the companion plants, starting with those that bloom in early spring and ending with ripe fruits on the ginseng. It’s $12 with free shipping (unless you want Priority delivery). I’m out of stock right now, but am still taking orders. It’ll only be about two weeks before they’re ready to put in the mail.
A 30-minute Windows Media Movie, PDF, and Kindle e-book files on USB.
Here’s some of the images from the first chapter (Before the Unfurling) of the slide-show:
Although it’s illegal to dig ginseng right now, it’s almost time to start watching for the unfurling!
Ginseng begins to come up here in the Ozarks in late April. Before that, though, many of the companions that live in the same habitat will bloom. Some of the earliest bloomers include bloodroot. If you want to know how ginseng looks in early spring as it unfurls, there’s a picture of one at the bottom of the page about my book “American Ginseng & Companions“.
Legal season for digging for ginseng is Sept. 1 through Dec. 1. Here’s a PDF from the Arkansas State Plant Board about the rules regarding ginseng harvest and sales. If you have the proper habitat, I encourage you to plant wild-simulated ginseng using seeds from as local as possible a source.
Start Broad – Find Habitat
It’s good to know the companions because ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) can be a difficult plant to spot. If you’re out looking for ginseng, you’ll know to look harder if you’ve already spotted the companions. The plant seems to show itself to some but not to others. I’ve spoken to many people who have never found it on their own even though they stood side-by-side with someone else who could point it out to them. I’m that way when it comes to hunting morel mushrooms. I cannot find them, even if I look exactly in the right kinds of spots. According to people who find them, morels have their own kinds of companion plants (and trees). During spring morel hunts, my friends come back with bags of gathered morels and I stand there empty-handed. Not so with ginseng. I can find that one!
Finding the clues: Ginseng Companion Plants
In one of my other posts about ginseng, I talked about choosing the best site to plant. Those tips can also help you find ginseng if you’re hunting it. And here’s a post that might help explain why you’re not finding it.
♥ Ginseng indicator plants, also called companion plants, are those plants, shrubs and trees that like to grow in the same sort of environment as ginseng. They keep the same company because they require the same habitat.
When I first go out to the woods, even in a place I know has ginseng, I have a difficult time spotting the first ginseng plant. They have a way of growing that makes them hard to see, but once you’ve found the first one it’s easier to find more. I think the first one somehow trains the eyes to see that form. It’s like this every time I go out. I have to find one first, then the rest become easier to see.
See how the ginseng plant has a horizontal form?
If you’re scouting woods for likely places to either plant or find it, here are a few of the companion plants you’ll want to keep an eye out for. They’re much easier to find than ginseng itself. Look for goldenseal, black cohosh, pawpaw trees, American spikenard, virginia snakeroot, bloodroot, blue cohosh and wild ginger. We sell many of these companions and ginseng for helping people re-establish habitats.
Photos of the companions
Here’s some of the ones I see most often around here in the Ozarks:
There’s also lots of photos on this blog if you’d like to just browse around a bit. Click on the icon below to get all of the posts that mention ginseng.
Before I could finish this article, I had to hike out to one of my favorite spots to get a few more photos. And before I could download the photos I had to take a shower with dishwashing liquid because I encountered poison ivy. I’m not terribly reactive to it, but when I go out for photos, I am often right down on the ground so I can get close up shots of things that are also close to the ground. There’s a lot of poison ivy on the ground in my favorite spot. And ticks too. Since many confuse this plant with ginseng, I wrote a short article and made a poster about the ginseng look alikes. It’s a downloadable item: Ginseng Look Alikes ID Guide, $1.50.
Poison ivy is NOT an indicator plant. In fact, if you see too much of it, it’s an indicator that there is probably too much sunlight in that location.
And such was the case with my favorite spot until recently. However, it wasn’t always like that. Before the ice storm of 2009, there was dense shade in that little holler. During the ice storm many of the trees fell and tops were snapped off, which then let in much more sunlight than had been there prior. And that’s what allowed the poison ivy to grow so densely there. It has taken nearly five years for the forest to recover to a point where the shade has returned to proper density. In the meantime, the ginseng suffered but it didn’t die except in the spots where a tree opened a gap to direct sunlight for too many hours per day. Most of the ginseng companion plants can tolerate more sunlight than ginseng. Maidenhair and Christmas ferns can tolerate more shade than can ginseng. But the ivy can also tolerate shade and thus it is still there even as the tree’s limbs have stretched to fill in the canopy. If we avoid more ice storms, it’ll eventually fade back toward the brighter areas and leave the deep shade alone. With a little help from the companions, you’ll be able to find suitable habitat for one of our greatest natural treasures, wild American Ginseng. The knowledge you gain will help you become a better conservationist if you choose to grow your own “virtually wild” ginseng rather than dig the wild.
Practice Ethical Hunting and Harvesting, and Consider Growing Your Own
♥ Ginseng has a specific season when it’s legal to harvest, and specific practices that will help ensure the plant continues to exist in the wild.
Please follow the laws of your state regarding how and when to harvest. For the state of Arkansas, those rules are here (it’s a PDF file). I also go over specific practices to help the plant survive in my book Sustainable Ginseng. You might wonder why someone who conserves the wild ginseng wants to hunt it. When I find wild ginseng, I don’t dig it. I record where I found it and observe the habitat, photograph the plants and environment. Then I use the information I gather to become more successful at growing it. From the plants I’ve seeded on our property, I also plant the ripe berries and redistribute them to places I want to establish new colonies. (Never gather all of the seeds of a plant, and never dig without planting the seeds.) To know where to plant, it helps to know the preferred habitat of ginseng. My hope is that you’ll become interested in growing wild-simulated ginseng, and for that you’ll need to know the kinds of places ginseng likes to grow.
♥ Wild-simulated, or virtually wild, is simply the practice of planting seeds and allowing them to grow naturally.
No tilling, no fertilizing, no weeding (except perhaps in the beginning to clear out underbrush). Then in 7-10 years, begin a sustainable plan for harvesting. That plan would include taking no more than 50% of the seed-bearing plants from each colony, and always replanting the seeds from those plants in the original area.
If you have questions, please leave a comment or use the Contact link in the menu to get in touch. I’m always happy to help if I can.
If you found this post useful, please share by posting the link to Facebook, Twitter or your favorite social center. If you want to stay posted on what’s going on with Wild Ozark, sign up for my monthly newsletter. Next year I’ll start doing slide show presentations around the area and those will be announced through the list as well. You will not receive my regular blog posts through this announcement list.
Traffic is always crazy when there’s snow in the Ozarks. We had to go into Fayetteville this morning. It was raining and I knew the colder weather was coming in, but we figured we should be able to get there and back before the roads started icing. Halfway there I noticed ice building up on the mirrors. Not a good sign. Soon the roads were covered with slippery sleet. Got the urgent errand done and had to take an alternate route home because the little car wouldn’t get up the big sleet covered hill. Finally reached our county road and made it across the low-water bridges with a few inches of water over them. Whew! What a trip. We only saw one vehicle in the ditch. Someone going to fast most likely.
Here’s some pictures from the ongoing Ozark Blizzard of March 2015. The horses are NOT happy about this.
March Snow in the Ozarks
A couple of hours later…
The Next Day
This little storm I hope is Winter’s Last Stand for this year. These photos were taken the day after the previous ones. Temps started out this morning around 15*F. Now, at 1400 it is about 42*F and the next days through the weekend and into next week are going to warm up even more. So the snow won’t be here long. Maybe spring will finally get a turn with Mother Nature.
I’ve started putting my flash fiction stories and the photo prompts that inspired them to my Writing website as podcasts. If any of you who are writers want to use the photos I post and create your own stories, feel free & to link to your post in the comments to my stories. I’ll be posting the podcasts to Pinterest as I get around to it and having been inspired by another writer friend of mine, have created an open/shared board called “Ozark-Inspired Podcasts“. If any of you want to make audio recordings of your stories and join it, let me know. This board isn’t limited to fiction, but only needs to be Ozark inspired or written by Ozark authors. To join, comment on one of the pins and let me know. I’d love to get a variety of audio pins from Ozark influenced authors.
Madison Woods Stories
My stories are all somehow influenced by my life here in the Ozarks, but are usually not “about” the Ozarks. Eventually I’ll add some audio of my non-fiction articles to the Pinterest board, the Nature Journal essays and some of the ones that are about the plants and things more directly Ozark related.