Sunday, 15 May 2011

Chicken Sh1t pH

Ive experimenting with some new nutrients. Ive read in a few places about people using chicken manure - so i got some and gave it a try. To start it seemed OK. I will keep using it on the lawn and vegetable beds.

BUT. A magnolia i was rescuing died suddenly midway through opening its flowers. I was not pleased.

I added some pH test drops to rain water. The London rainwater is strongly acidic. This yellow color is the most acidic color that the kit measures indicating 6.0 or less.

I then dropped a small piece of chicken manure pellet in and observed.

As the manure pellet dissolved it made the solution strongly alkaline. The light wasn't good - but the pH is towards the high end of the scale. So in the region of 7.6 which is a substantial swing.

The lesson learnt is that i must test new additives before i put them on to avoid unexpected results.

For species that like alkaline conditions this is fine. There are plenty of trees down south grow in the chalk. I would recommend avoiding this for acid lovers like pines and magnolias / azaleas.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

citrus progress

Once the calamondon settled into its new pot and soil it went berserk. The growth tips are a mass of shoots. Once the scent had faded i removed the early blossoms. I want all the energy to go into growth.


There is also a lot of adventurous back budding. This new growth is very fragile and cant be touched. If you blow hard on it the new twigs will come off. I lost a few which were in perfect positions. Luckily i got more coming in the same place.

I am concerned about the color of the new growth. the chlorosis is really bad. Its getting fed once a week. Ive increased to twice a week, with chempak high nitro and growth technology citrus focus - both mixed over strong. The citrus focus has got seaweed and humates. I'm hoping this will improve the roots and soil. Ive also put some Mycorrhiza in the soil to improve nutrient uptake.

Last year i fed it like a madman to green it up - so i suppose as a larger plant it needs more. The citrus trees are notoriously greedy. I'm having doubts about the substrate I'm using. it did very well in akadama for the last 2 years. This biozorb doesn't seem to hold much liquid. in the small pot i could get a litre of water in without much runoff. This much larger pot saturates with 500ml so its capacity to hold nutrients is much less.

Once a week i take it onto the lawn and give it a good soaking to flush all the soil.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

crazy oak

Look at the size of that leaf. In a few years time i will have to learn how to reduce the leaf size. For now i want it to fatten up and ramify.

These shoots can grow over an inch per day. Maybe my one acorn was a freak. I shall find out as the next 4 get growing.

You can see where Ive optimistically wired the base of all these shoots to set them off in the right direction.

I'm a little off piste with these - but i guess if i get 10 flushes of growth and it doubles in size. Well what can i do?  Most seem to find them slow growing. I do hope Leonardo was right and that as i increase the ramification and twig thickness the trunk will respond similarly. So far it has grown very well - i estimate a 25% increase in girth at the base so far. The bark isn't great - or there at all - but no 4 year old tree will have good bark - that comes later.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Been busy

All the new hedgerow trees have made it through the winter and are growing strongly. So much so that the wind keeps blowing them over.

The beech's broke bud late in April and they were the last to get going.

The 4 new oaks also made it through the winter and are growing strongly now.

The mountain maple has been defoliated and has come back very well. Every single possible bud point has sprouted. I have massive back budding and a big increase in ramification. Ive also been wiring and hanging weights to improve the layout.

It was defoliated on 16 April and the photo on the right is 21days later. I have already pinched back some over enthusiastic growth.

My larger oak is going crazy this year. Its also throwing massive shoots for the last 3 nodes of every branch making it quite hard to tame. Ive got 3 grades of training wire and I'm pulling the young soft shoots into place early before the set. Its starting to take a lot of wire.

The trunk has put on quite a bit of weight already this year. Its getting 30% over strength fertiliser once a week.

The point at which the oak is cut back is important. similarly to brach cutting a pine. The last buds on the branches are the ones that will grow - so you need to select them so that the new branches head off in the right direction.

I have also been fortunate with some of the budding on my large Scots pine. Its behavior is much easier to work with than the small one. While working on developing nice dense foliage areas Ive cut back some overly long branches and in all cases Ive gotten several nice buds at the cut point.

Also some good buds all the way back into the 2 year old needles. I'm spoilt for choice here. Its behaviour is very close to the descriptions of black pines.

Daily water and lots of fertiliser. Several litres of strong high nitro fertiliser per week.

Ive been experimenting with chicken manure. The tea seems alright. But it clogs up your soil very quickly. I suspect it does strange things to the soil ph.