The Fall Harvest of our Gifts
American Ginseng is one of the gifts! My husband carefully teaches each of us about this wonderful gift from God. Stewardship is serious business for the natural gifts here. American Ginseng is slow growing and requires diligent stewardship to increase it over time. The canopy can't be too thick or it won't multiply like it should, or too open and dry. So my husband takes note of trees that are in someway damaged that can be dropped to open the canopy enough to make it germinate and grow little ones. We came up on a few areas where the soil was optimal, the stewardship efforts had been optimized and the sunlight was just right to have a large plant, then cascading down the slope a medium plant and successively younger plants on down. That was really cool to see.
The age of a plant is pretty easy to tell by the leaf scars. We are careful to only dig 10 year old or older roots (as per the law in Tennessee) and to disperse the seed in a lateral line where the original plant was dug. The tops of younger plants are pinched off to keep for a tonic tea- and to protect the young roots from anyone who might not respect property lines. Good stewardship demands diligence and it is satisfying to see the fruit of that diligence aver time.
The nuts are falling too. Beach, Hickory, and Black Walnut. We gather them up by the bucket full! I save and dry the black walnut hulls for a natural brown dye. Then we crack the hard nuts and keep them in the freezer to add to special holiday treats.
The American Persimmon is another fall gift. It makes delicious bread and muffins. It is best just after the first touch of frost. They become sweeter and in a good year we can collect tons of the meaty fruits.