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Best spots for roots plants ?

 
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Hello ! I am getting more and more into medicinal plants, and it seems that quite a lot of them are grown for their roots. There are two problems I am trying to solve there.

First, what would be the best spots for optimal roots ? Would hugelkultur be a no-no, or might they be interesting ? I saw a thread discussing how some air pockets in the hugelkultur led to root "explosion" (as in a lot of them). Would this happen for bigger, better medicinal roots ? The plants I am talking about are anything from Valerian, Burdock,  Licorice, Ashwagandhas (Withania Somnifera; which can be grown as an annual so it's not a big problem), Astragalus, Codonopsis Pilosula... but more common ones like the good 'ol dandelion, or maybe even jerusalem artichokes, or potatoes (which are not full-on medicinal, but still root crops so an answer for them interest me too).

For some of these (especially the annuals), I am planing to put them in bio-intensive beds, so they'll have soil with good compost, and softened enough so that the root can go deep.

Last question: some of the medicinal plants I plan to plant (say that quickly 10 times in a row) have a harvest that range from the same year to 3 or more years. The thing is, I am still learning about gardening, what my soil is like, how some of  these plants work, etc, so I might plant one that take 5 years before it's interesting to harvest, but next year I might change the layout of the garden, meaning that this plant would get in the way... some can be moved, but if we're talking about plants that can have half a meter roots, then I'm not going to be able to move them. What would you do in order to minimize the impact on future layouts ? Planting in pots would be a solution for a few plants, but definitely not for all of them (too much work !).

Thanks.
 
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Maybe researching beforehand how big the roots get for each plant and whether they can be transplanted might help your decision on where to plant them.

Also researching how big the plants get might be a big help.  When I planted my rosemary I was thinking of this cute kitchen herb. The instruction said to plant allowing 3 feet on each side.  Three feet on each side was not enough space for the big shrub that I have.

Think about having to dig those roots up when deciding where to plant.  The spot will need to have easy access as not to disturb other plants.

Just a few thoughts.
 
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We are growing codonopsis and dandelion along with lots of other culinary and medicinal herbs in a hugel bed and they are doing very well.  I haven't pulled the codonopsis yet but the dandelion get big in one season and the ones I've pulled have long healthy roots (up to 6"). My hugel bed has a base layer of big logs, then small logs, dirt, wood chips then topsoil. The small logs are fairly near the surface in some areas (2-3" deep) but that doesn't seem to be an issue.

We used the wood chips on top to help fill in gaps along with the dirt. The first year this bed was in production I pulled a plant that was doing much better than those around it. The root system was huge and some wood chips came up with it since the roots were wrapped around the chips, which had fungi growing and breaking them down.

The culinary herbs are going crazy. My lemon thyme plant is about 3 feet across and always busy with pollinators. The raspberry is insane and has spread 6 feet in every direction, so next year they get moved around the property so they don't take over more than they have already.

Maybe try it out with ashwagandha and dandelion first before starting the ones that don't mature for several years. In my research, most of them do not like to be moved once they are established. Or plant some in the hugel bed and some in a bed with deeper soil. That would be a really useful experiment.
 
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For root medicines, there are some plants like licorice, where you remove a root (a licorice stick) but leave the plant in place.

For others, you have to take up the whole plant at the end of the season and kill the plant.

Your strategy should have differences for those, as well as the probable climate situation when you harvest the roots.

Some places have lots of rain during that time.  Others, dry and hot. It is much easier to access roots when there is moisture in the roots.

John S
PDX OR
 
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Anne Miller wrote:Maybe researching beforehand how big the roots get for each plant and whether they can be transplanted might help your decision on where to plant them.

Also researching how big the plants get might be a big help.  When I planted my rosemary I was thinking of this cute kitchen herb. The instruction said to plant allowing 3 feet on each side.  Three feet on each side was not enough space for the big shrub that I have.

Think about having to dig those roots up when deciding where to plant.  The spot will need to have easy access as not to disturb other plants.

Just a few thoughts.



Indeed, there's a rosemary bush that was already here when I started leasing, it's not a cute little baby.

That's going to be quite a lot of work for researching all these roots, but I guess I don't have much choice. If you happen to have resources that already has some of these info I'm all ears.

Robin Katz wrote:We are growing codonopsis and dandelion along with lots of other culinary and medicinal herbs in a hugel bed and they are doing very well.  I haven't pulled the codonopsis yet but the dandelion get big in one season and the ones I've pulled have long healthy roots (up to 6"). My hugel bed has a base layer of big logs, then small logs, dirt, wood chips then topsoil. The small logs are fairly near the surface in some areas (2-3" deep) but that doesn't seem to be an issue.

We used the wood chips on top to help fill in gaps along with the dirt. The first year this bed was in production I pulled a plant that was doing much better than those around it. The root system was huge and some wood chips came up with it since the roots were wrapped around the chips, which had fungi growing and breaking them down.

The culinary herbs are going crazy. My lemon thyme plant is about 3 feet across and always busy with pollinators. The raspberry is insane and has spread 6 feet in every direction, so next year they get moved around the property so they don't take over more than they have already.

Maybe try it out with ashwagandha and dandelion first before starting the ones that don't mature for several years. In my research, most of them do not like to be moved once they are established. Or plant some in the hugel bed and some in a bed with deeper soil. That would be a really useful experiment.



That's good news then ! I guessed hugel would be nice, as the soil would be loose, and be set to loosen up over time, but with all the solid material in it, I was afraid it'd block roots from forming wells. I guess, as long as having nice straight root is not the goal, it shouldn't be an issue ?

Anyway, I plan to use double-dig beds at least for ashwagandhas, and other root crops that can be farmed as annuals. But if I decide to put a spot for longer lived roots, yes, making the soil as loose as possible will clearly be a goal. Thanks for the feedback !

John Suavecito wrote:For root medicines, there are some plants like licorice, where you remove a root (a licorice stick) but leave the plant in place.

For others, you have to take up the whole plant at the end of the season and kill the plant.

Your strategy should have differences for those, as well as the probable climate situation when you harvest the roots.

Some places have lots of rain during that time.  Others, dry and hot. It is much easier to access roots when there is moisture in the roots.

John S
PDX OR



Any idea if you can remove only a few stick of licorice for all licorices plants ? I'm sowing Glycyrrhiza glabra and Glycyrrhiza yunnanensis, so if I can let all of the plants live while still harvesting it, that would be wonderful !

It's a good point, I didn't remember there was plants that could have their root harvested and still grow back; ironically, I didn't think about this at all despite having cornfrey that just LOVES to have its root split.

Do you know other plants that can have part of the roots harvested without issues ? The only one I can think of right now that I plan to plant is Salvia miltiorrhiza (Danshen), but if there's other like this, it would make for a wonderful medicinal garden.
 
Anne Miller
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I have two very good herb books but I do not know if either of them gives the size of the roots.

John has offered some great knowledge also and some that I did not know.

If I were in your position I would decide on which herbs I wanted first.  Then I would ask on the forum how big the roots get, how the roots are harvested, all or part of the root, and can it be transplanted.

Maybe start with two or three herbs, and ask the forum about one herb at a time.
 
John Suavecito
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Once glabra gets big enough , usually 3-4 years, people normally take sticks/roots off every year. I imagine the same for yunnanensis. Many plants can be divided, androots taken. Horseradish, for example. I've divided grapes and blueberries too.
John s
Pdx or
 
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