A Deeper Look at Forest Roots – Richo’s Blog

Sandy loam, a substance created by the breakdown of minerals (rock) mixed with the breakdown of carbon (tree or grass detritus). Sandy loam is what we all want because it is the best all-around substrate for growing the plants we love the most: Goldenseal, Ginseng, Black and Blue Cohosh, Wild Yam, Twinleaf, Bloodroot, Stoneroot…

Shade gardens can be equally effective places to plant forest roots. However, what is gained by way of ready access, clear paths and easy watering may be lost because the soil is not appropriate. Think about sandy loam. Composed of sand and humus, this may be produced by mixing sand from the quarry and compost from the compost heap. On a micro-scale, one could use chicken grit and a bag of compost from the feed-and-seed, mixed together and mulched with rotted leaves, peat or coir. But if going for a larger scale, it makes sense to order in a truckload of sand and to produce compost on-site with locally available materials. Plan ahead — well-rested soils work better than freshly mixed soils. Good compost takes time. Layer green materials (like fresh leaves or grass clippings) with brown materials (like dead leaves or straw) and throw in some kitchen scraps to get things heating up quickly. Turn the compost several times over the course of a season. Black gold.

Now, look at your rootstock. The root is a classic root-rhizome structure, with a bulky rhizome (storage structure) subtended by feeder roots and with a nascent bud or several buds poking out and up. Snip off any rotted portions. It is better to cut back overlong roots than to smash them into the hole at planting. Roots should be trained down and out. Rhizomes generally go parallel with the ground surface. Buds point forward and up. Always tamp the soil around the root to give it a sense of place. Cover the root with mulch. The bud should be protected by at least 2 inches of mulch. Water if rain is not falling. The most successful forest gardeners are planting dormant roots in the fall for emergence in the spring. Don’t worry, in the spring, the bud will elongate into a stem, and if the root is firmly situated, the plant will surely find the way to the light. During dormancy, that is from fall transplant up until spring growth, one might think the roots are just sitting there, but actually, they are alive and actively producing feeder roots. This becomes a foundation for the next year’s growth, and is the reason you can’t really successfully transplant in the spring — the root must have a chance to dig in before growing.

Black and Blue Cohosh Forest Sandy loam, a substance created by the breakdown of minerals (rock) mixed with the breakdown of carbon (tree or grass detritus). Sandy loam is what we all want, because…

Source: A Deeper Look at Forest Roots – Richo’s Blog