Sunday, March 4, 2018

Pictures from around the orchard and rooting hardwood cuttings

Saplings cut from the barn foundation.  Nearly all of them are Staghorn Sumac

More saplings.  These are just a little too big to chip so I decided to attempt sheet composting them whole.

The feathery tops were removed and the poles laid on the ground between the fence and a row of asparagus.  I will cover them with leaves and wood chips as I collect them.
Hope springs eternal.  I am looking for a perennial ground cover to grow underneath my orchard trees.  Ideally, it would be edible and able to out compete nettles and motherswort.  This is Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana) and the attraction is that the leafy canopy tops out at about 15", low enough to not shade trees.  It also starts growth early in the spring which will help suppress competition from "weeds"

A pot full of gooseberry cuttings.  I did not use any rooting hormones on these.  Hormones are perishable and I am not good at keeping a fresh supply on hand.  Besides, I have never had difficulty rooting Ribes.
The best set of instructions I have found for rooting hardwood cuttings can be found on Lon Rombough's site, Bunchgrapes.  These instructions also work well for roses.

There are several methods to callus cuttings, according to your situation. While rooting hormone isn't absolutely necessary, it can hasten callusing and increase the number of roots. A very good product for the purpose is Dip 'N' Grow (see sources) used at medium strength.

Method 1. Small amounts of cuttings can be callused by wrapping them in moist paper or sphagnum in a black plastic bag. This is the way your cuttings arrive, so if they have been stored properly, they are ready to callus. Put them in a warm area that stays constantly at 80-85F. The top of a refrigerator is a good place as the waste heat from the condenser collects there. Callusing should occur in one to two weeks. Buds may push and produce white sprouts, but this isn't harmful, though care should be taken to avoid breakage as the cutting must use energy to grow more shoots. Plant as soon as the cuttings are callused and roots start to appear.

Method 2. Plant the cuttings in a pot of a mix of 3 parts perlite to 1 part peat, by volume. Set the pot on a heat mat set to 85 F (25 C), in a cool area, or even outdoors in a protected area. This heats the root zone and encourages callusing, but the top of the cuttings, being in cool air, will not push buds as readily. The idea is to get roots before buds push too much so there is an existing root system to support the new growth when it appears. Rooting occurs in one to two weeks in most cases. See sources for a company that sells heat mats.

Method 3. Plant the cuttings in a one gallon black pot of the 3:1 perlitepeat mix and set it in a sunny location where the pot can be warmed by the sun. The pot should be no larger than one gallon as the warming effect of the sun will penetrate a larger pot too slowly. Avoid excess watering as that will cool the mix and slow rooting. This is a slower method, often taking as much as a month, and the buds will often start to grow before the roots are formed, but it works well enough for home use.


  1. Interesting how much 'heat' they want to get the roots started...

  2. I use White Clover in my orchard. I don't eat it but everything else does and you can eat them.


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