Friday, 24 April 2009


The two captured Field Maples seem to have survived their first week of captivity. I still mist them with extremely dilute fertiliser whenever i walk by. They do still look a little droopy - but this is expected at this stage. I do hope that they perk up in the next few weeks.

The Oak is going well and has thrown gigantic new growth from the apex - currently 8cm and still going strong. It has also added a few millimeters to the diameter of the base of the trunk. If i am lucky i will get quite a bit more growth out of it this season. That top shoot has grown that 8cm since the 16th - today being the 24th - so during peak growth its doing 1cm per day. Wonder how long it can sustain that?

Over winter i may cut the Oak back a few nodes at the apex and train the top shoot as the new apex again. All depends on how thick it is and what the growth rate is this season.

The plan for the Oak is to reach a height of about 70cm once fully developed in an informal upright style. This will take a while.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Acer Campestre ( Field Maple )

A while a go i tried to grow some Field Maples from seed i gathered in a local park. i carefully collected these seeds and stored them all winter. i had them in with the tomatoes in the seed propagator - the tomatoes are looking great but there is no sign of little maples. i emptied out the seed trays and the seeds were still there - completely inert in the soil. I'll do some more research and try again next year.

Today was a lovely day in London - warm and sunny - if a little windy - so i decided that we should go for a stroll in the local park. there's a lovely path along a river through the woodlands that i like to walk along. and there in the mud on the side of the path - about to be slaughter by the municipal mower were a few maple hatching's. nature had succeeded where i had failed. i guess a squirrel had tucked them away there as a snack and forgotten about them. i tugged gingerly at them and the came cleanly out of the mud. problem solved - here were the two field maples i had been craving to fill up my collection. maybe one day i will get lucky and pull a big one out of an old hedge - but for now i am satisfied.

My personal preference is to grow my own plants from nursery material or gathered seeds. It doesn't lead to instant gratification - but you do become a good grower. I would like to gather a good hawthorn from an old hedge sometime - but that's another project for another day.

Luckily i had some John Innes No.2 soil based compost and a few pots handy. I was using this soil for the garlic and pumpkin crops this year - but its nice soil and its got some grit in it too - not just compost - so i will use it for the little maples too.

With a young plant like this its important to get it into some moist soil ASAP as once those cells get dry and die they never come back.

I'm misting them as often as i see them to keep them going during the trauma of being uprooted and moved. Until the roots have grown into the new soil they will get all their moisture from the misting. Ive added a very weak solution of foliar feed to the misting water - in this case some 30% strength miracle_gro.

Commercial growers of cuttings use a constant misting system in greenhouses. I cant seem to find out what they put in their water - but i assume the plants need some nutrients as they grow a root system.

This leads me to wonder again about the effectiveness of maxicrop. Opinions are divided on sea-based nutrients as a foliar feed - but there is some support for it as well. Id like to see some tests of the effectiveness performed as a controlled experiment on a large number of plants. Foliar feeds of seaweed based nutrients are commonly used in agriculture and their uptake is reasonably well understood.

But I'm so keen on these young plants that I'll throw everything into the fight to keep them going - so i will be applying a dilute foliar feed over the next few weeks as they establish themselves and setup a root system in their new environment.

Addendum - i did add a sprinkling of bone meal to the soil as well to help with the root growing process.

Saturday, 18 April 2009


Ive had a few problem plants, and this had led me to wonder what is causing this. Is it a nutrient problem or is there some unseen enemy that is attacking my plants?

The main symptom is a yellowing of the leaves and a loss of vigor. There are no visible insects on the plants - no scale or aphids. They are fertilised weekly with chempak.

I have 3 of these miniature pomegranates. The one pictured is particularely badly affected.

I suspect blackfly - because i can see them flying around the pots - not on the leaves though - but around the pot and soil.

My citrus also has some sticky residue on the leaves with no pests visible and this seems to be a symptom of blackfly. Ive searched the net and cant find an article on blackfly - all the articles seem to be cover greenfly, blackfly and aphids.

I dug up some soil that i was trying to grow some Chestnuts in and saw little white grubs in the soil - and there were blackflies buzzing around the pots.

I have sprayed all of them with Bayer Provado. Last year i had some scale and aphids and this product seem to sort them out very effectively. The label says that it does provide protection for some time after application as well.

As a check that it isn't a nutrient problem i have put some maxicrop on one of them.

I hope that this will go someway to restoring the plants to full strength.

Friday, 17 April 2009


Fertilisers used sofar this season.

miracid = miracle grow for azalea , camellia and rhododendron. i use this occasionally for the mugo pines and various fruit trees.

bonemeal - makes those roots jive. i add a little to the soil during repotting. potentially can make the soil a little alkaline when it decomposes.

chempak - high nitro ( no.2 ) - early season. i put this on everything. ( even the pitcher plant )
chempak - low nitro ( no.8 ) - mid to late season.

in theory chempak has all the other trace elements too - so i need nothing else - well thats what the package says.

ive wondered whether some form of biological fertiliser is needed too. i read about bio_gold and the various hard cakes that are used. opinions do seem to be divided over whats best - with good results being produced but those for and against.

maxicrop seaweed extract - this i am not sure about. it seems popular with gardeners and many hydroponics stores sell it too - but there is the controversial court case in New Zealand where they lost the case - where it was alleged to be useless. i have put some on one plant and im waiting to see how it behaves first.

if you are interested - this is where i began my research.
wikipedia stub.

some others that i have bought but not used.
bonsai fertiliser - generic balanced fertiliser.
citrus summer - i have a calamondin. and we need the little oranges for our gin & tonics. cant seem to find the exact nutritional requirements for citrus. buts its doing fine without it.
citrus winter - looks like low nitro from the label.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

English Oak - Part4

The little tree is coming on well with about 1mm of girth added to the base of the trunk.

I hadnt expected it so early on in the season - but the second flush of growth has begun. I'm glad that the apex is the strongest growth point at this stage as well.

I'm keeping this one on the chempak high nitro for another few weeks as im looking for a lot of growth this season.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

plants left behind.

Here is a photo of one of my oaks that i left behind in Australia when i move back to Europe. Its been in the ground for 3 years. Although the growth rate of Oaks is slow they are still capable of a few feet per year.

This young tree has survived drought and extreme cold. In fact it seems to have thrived in those conditions.

ah - back in those days i used to grow Morton Bay figs.

English Oak - part3

Here is another image a week later of the little oak.

Its doing very well - Im hoping the buds are going to form some nice small branches where they are.

Oaks usually have a second round of growth later in the season so I hope these branches will be in good shape by the end of the season as well.

With the amount of foliage and new branches I'm hoping it will put on some good girth on the bottom as well.

At the moment its on a weekly dilute ( about 75% strength ) feed of Chempak high nitro ( 25+15+15 ).

As you can see im using some normal aluminium wire to shape the heavy branches - but on the light delicate shoots im using lead soldering wire to encourage them in the right direction.