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.
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