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Capstone project to help re-treeing!

 
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Hi folks!  Y'all were so helpful when I had a hugelkultur project that I thought I'd post again for my capstone
There is a project in my city to plant cottonwoods and willows along a river, in order to cool the river down, since the temps are very high and stressing the fish and there's almost no shade.  My capstone project is about enhancing that re-treeing project since the success of their saplings is low.
I'm interested in anything from companion plants to composting techniques to mulching techniques to important riverside ecosystem considerations.... I've got a vermiculture started in my apartment and I'm taking cuttings from adult cottonwoods and trying to root them in potting soil (did the dilute honey/acv dip).  I was wondering if anyone had any particular insight into this type of project, whether it's a book or article or an old traditional way of doing things?  I've never tried to root cuttings before and never tried a vermiculture either.  
Thanks so much for your time <3
 
pollinator
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Cottonwood (poplar, Aspen) and willow are very easy to root! Start with cuttings from the newest branches, and the smallest trees. In the spring when the ground is muddy you can cut the end at an angle and stick them into the ground and most will grow- that easy! For now, you can root them in wet sand or even just a container of water. You don’t need potting soil, or any rooting compound or dip either. In fact willow roots so well many people boil willow wood and use that water as a rooting compound for other cuttings. As long as a cutting has a bud or two it will root and leaf out and grow. Willow loves wet soil, and does well on river banks even in poor soil. It’s also great at metabolizing (I know, wrong word!) toxins in soil.
 
Starlie Scarborough
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Hey, thanks Julie!  
I had taken cuttings from larger trees because I wasn't sure I could identify small trees with all the leaves off.   I checked the cuttings this morning and nothing has happened yet.  It's been almosyt two weeks, I've been keeping them in potting soil with a bag over to contain moisture--but I moved a few over to a glass vase.  Tomorrow I'll grab some more.  Do you know how long cottonwoods usually take to root?  That's really cool about willow boiling--if I have any, I'll grab some
 
Julie Reed
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My experience is that you can break a foot long pencil sized branch tip off a 1-2” diameter tree, scrape some bark off the lower couple inches, stick that broken end in a bottle of water on a sunny windowsill and in about 2 weeks have a mass of roots and a couple leaves popping out (typical elementary school project). Also as mentioned in my previous comment, cutting them at an angle and sticking them in a hole in the mud in spring. I’ve never used potting soil or a bag so not sure how that would work out. Anything in the aspen or willow family is essentially a weed tree, and they grow that prolifically and easily. As long as you are using small branches (less than 1/4” diameter) they should root easily and quickly. I’d skip the potting soil and just use water, wet sand or wrap them in a wet paper towel that you can keep wet. They thrive on moisture. Leave the top part exposed to air, no bag, and in the sun. Hope that helps!
 
Starlie Scarborough
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Thank you Ms Reed!!  I'm feeling less anxious already
 
Julie Reed
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I decided to start some about 10 days ago to be able to share some pics with you. I went for a walk and broke off some branches. It was 10 above zero outside. I grabbed about 40, here’s a few- First 2 pics are from today, second 2 from the 3rd or 4th. As you can see, I didn’t even scrape all the stems, it’s really not critical to do. Hope you are having success with yours!
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