Sunday, 22 April 2012

First Copper Beech

I decided to start working on one of the hedgerow beech trees that i bought 2 years ago - as the beech buds were all swelling up nicely. There were bought bare root - so i am certain that the roots can be taken back a long way. This image is after 2 years in some nice soil - living out on the lawn with regular water and fertiliser. I was a little surprised at the generous amount of root that had developed. It was pot bound after 2 years. 

This one is the least interesting of the trunks so i decided to use it first as a learning experience for working with beech trees. From most angles its about 2" thick somewhat above the ground level.

I removed all the long circling roots and blasted out most of the old soil with water. There were a few problematic thick roots which i cut back a little. That root to the left was just too far up to be kept and was later removed.

The soil mix used to grow this was quite good and i think i will use something close to it again in the future. Lots of coarse sand and horticultural grit - with plenty of perlite. The 3 beech trees grew on very well in this and created fantastic root systems full of fine feeder roots - hence the good growth rate of the trunks.

I created a soil mix based a bit on the work from the last few years. Pure biosorb was a bit hard to grow in. It required a lot of fertiliser and water. It is still primarily biosorb - but i have added finely graded fuji grit and akadama. There is also a heavy helping of pine bark in there. The soil mix is generously inoculated with rootgrow. I will begin fertilizing very soon with fish emulsion ( gave it a good drenching today ).

This beech will be kept under glass until it is in rude health.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Oak progress

This is my first Oak - discovered coming up amongst the tomato plants in the vegetable patch about 6 years ago - the work of a forgetful squirrel.

The next 4 Oaks are growing in containers out back - also from acorns. Nice little trunks on them already. I think i shall try for larger containers for them this year.

I think the warm March got it going a little early and a few late frosts really hurt it. I became concerned and brought it in under glass to help it out a little as we have had a few -4 ( friday 4 april  according to a local weather station ) nights lately. Under the more comfortable circumstance it has begun growing energetically.

I have done some light wiring - but they new shoots are very delicate and the leaves are brittle and will crack and break easily. I find the Oak is a bit easier to wire when its hardened off a little.

I have some black slime growing on the soil surface ( i call it pot snot ) so i will remove some of the top layer. There is also a lot of moss and it makes it hard to water.

This oak is rather pot bound now. The roots and soil are quite rot free so they will have to soldier on for another year. The soil mix is finely graded Akadama and fuji grit - and the Oak has loved it. The Oak is subjectively easier to grow than pines and is more tolerant of watering and fertilizer.

Here is the little Oak today. Once mother nature gives the signal it is one of the fastest growing trees i have ever seen.

There are probably 10 times as many growth points this year. I am hoping that this first flush of leaves will be smaller than last years.

A lot of wire is going to be used to tame this one.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Spring cleaning

Just a pretty picture of a Quince flower I took on a nice sunny day in the garden. Good enough for use as wallpaper even. I timed the shot to get it at a point when the sun was directly on the branch - but the background was in shadow - to get the high contrast. Simply nice direct sunlight and crisp focus.

I've tuned the layout of my blog for 1280 pixel width. I don't think many people are using less than that any more. Some older articles may have their layout disturbed.

Looks like the work situation will be better - so i will be able to come home every night. My dear wife has had to water for me for the last summer while i was away - did a damn fine job too.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Some thoughts on maple pruning

Sometimes when pruning a Japanese maple you can get some undesirable results. This one is the most annoying one where the two terminal buds both grow forwards parallel to each other.


Its a hard situation to recover from and usually you end up just having to cut back behind the bad node. If you allow the buds to grow on these parallel branches the foliage collides and makes an unsightly mess. Fixing this afterwards with wire is difficult as opening that join up to 90 degrees mostly results in splitting.

My aim with pruning this way is to set up the tree for good ramification after mid season defoliation or for the following years growth. Im trying to plan my growth more on my trees so taking care with the pruning is becoming very important. Selecting the correct point to cut back to so that the new growth goes where it is wanted is the prize.

It comes down to the timing of the final pre-defoliation cut backs. Sometimes I get over zealous and cut back too early. The soft stalk isn't woody ( lignified ) and dies right back to the node creating this problem. The node needs to have some wood between the buds to fork nicely.

I now don't bother with bud pinching or cutting back too early as I get these ugly nodes. Once the branches have hardened off I cut back a little - I try to leave at least 3 nodes on the branch early in the season. Sometimes when the tree is over zealous I do cut back big chunks. I certainly don't do any of the bud plucking with tweezers.

Usually the first growth branches will terminate with one of the ugly nodes when it runs out of puff. Its important to remove all these ugly terminal buds. Hopefully there are 4 or 5 nodes behind it to work with.

I can already see the new buds forming at the base of the current leaves - I'm going to wait a while longer until they are pushing out. When I cut I leave a nice long piece of stalk in front of those buds. This stalk can be trimmed back during the winter when its completely dead.

Hopefully I end up with a nice open V when the branch splits. The image below contains a nicely split branch - almost 90 degrees.There is a neat piece of dead stalk left that can be trimmed back later.