Click HERE for pictures of 2015 roots from readers.
Odd Ginseng Roots
Soon the digging season for ginseng will begin here in Arkansas. For those doing a bit of searching online for a picture of a ginseng root, here’s a one of an interesting root design. This one has two necks and two root portions, but only one bud. The one pictured below is from last year.
Sometimes the roots will get damaged and begin growing a different direction. Sometimes there’s a rock in the way. There’s no telling why a ginseng root will take the shape it does, but the wild ones are often quite tricky when digging because of the way they reach in unexpected directions.
A few things distinguish a ginseng root from other roots. One is the neck with bud scars. Each year the stem leaves a scar when it dies back in fall. The bud for next year is already in place and waiting for spring. On the root portion you can see concentric rings where dirt collects and stains.
Those rings are a defining thing to look for, as are the bud scars on the neck. Judging from the scars, the root pictured above is probably more than 15 years old. I don’t have the root here to examine now, and it’s sometimes harder to see when they’re dried, but it’s likely older than that. The stem swaps sides each year, so there’s a scar on either side of the neck.
Here in the Ozarks, at least in our area in northwest Arkansas, most of the berries have already fallen. The leaves are beginning to turn yellow and with all the rain we’ve had, some of the plants have actually died back already. They should come back next year. Some of mine were probably washed out in the flooding we had during June. Those might find new root in new locations if they washed high enough ashore in a good place.
My seeds should arrive in early October and then I’ll be in the woods daily planting new stock. In April next year I should have a lot of new seedlings to bring to the Huntsville Farmer’s Market. I have some new locations I want to test, too, so I’ll be planting some in places I haven’t tried before.
Mired in a To-Do List
I haven’t been making many posts lately to my blog.
Lately it seems I’ve been busier than normal and I haven’t even been out to take my usual slew of photos.
Almost all of the priority items on my to-do list have been indoor things, like catching up on business ledgers. And posting a daily dose of short story to my list members who like fiction.
I’ve also been working on a novel. I tend to go quiet on the blog sometimes when I’m working on fiction projects but I might start posting a few excerpts from the novel here and there.
Then, too, the ragweed is blooming now. It’s the one plant that really doesn’t get along well with me.
So I do tend to stay indoors until the worst of the pollen has drifted away.
But I’m getting antsy to be outdoors.
Being indoors so much is beginning to make me a bit stir crazy.
Predator and Prey, or the hunter and the hunted is a common theme throughout my fiction writing. No Qualms, one of my short stories (free at most retailers) is about about a predator/prey relationship. Symbiosis, my first finished novel, not published yet, deals with predator/prey relationships and the balance of energy among life on earth, sometimes symbolic and often outright. Many of my flash fiction stories (I have twitterfiction and 100-word flash stories) are also dealing with this same dynamic. This is a strong theme that runs through most of my fiction and is strongly influenced by life in the wild Ozarks where we live. My first published novel, First Hunt, also has a predator and prey theme to it. I guess it's just part of my nature.
Wild Ozark is 160 acres of beautiful wild Ozark mountains. I call what I do "nature farming" because the land produces, all by itself, the shagbark hickory trees, ferns, moss, ground-fall botanicals, and the perfect habitats for growing and stewarding American ginseng. I'm co-creating with Nature - all of the things I use to make the Fairy Gardens and Forest Folk, the bark we harvest for Burnt Kettle's shagbark hickory syrup, are produced by nature without my input. This land is my muse for inspiration when it comes to my writing, drawing, and photography. It's truly a Nature Farm.
About the voice behind this blog, Madison Woods
I'm a creative old soul living way off the beaten path with my husband in the wild Ozark Mountains. Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, I write books and stories. My rural fantasy fiction, written under the pen name, Ima Erthwitch, usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks.