Growing Ginseng Hydroponically
Ginseng cultivation is a fairly new to the world of hydroponics, but some growers from around the world have developed various methods to accomplish it. One of the biggest reasons to do this is ginseng's rather long development time; ginseng often requires four years of growth before the root can be harvested. Researcher Thomas Li uses a method that is organic and will reduce ginseng's growing time before harvest to two years.
Acquire seeds from ginseng berries or from a gardening store. It is better if the seeds have been slightly aged (by perhaps three months) at 60 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer. If you get the seeds from berries, make sure they are washed.
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.
Fertigate (that is, irrigate with water containing the nutrient solution) weekly with a nutrient solution. Li used 0.5 g per liter of Mermaid's Organic Fish Fertilizer and 0.5 g per liter of Acadian Sea Weed Extract. Irrigate the plants with water between fertigation periods in order to keep the plant moist.
Irrigate with water only (that is, do not fertigate) 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 fertigation 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.
- Ginseng seeds
- Plastic storage bags (such as Ziplock)
- Peat moss
- Forestry sand
- Root trainers
- Hydroponic irrigation system
- Nutrient solution