I'm looking for some practical help regarding growing black locust from seed. Actually mine is R. neomexicana but I would say that's close enough
The thing is that I managed to germinate quite some seed using the near-boliing water + soaking treatment. I put the sprouted seed into large pots and what with all the springtime moving between various locations one of the pots got forgotten in a dark place. The little trees did grow but became badly stretched; let's say 4 inches from soil level to the first leaves, very thin, can hardly support their own weight.
My question: is it OK to plant them deeply, burying them almost to the leaves (like one would do with a tomato for example) or is that a bad idea for the robinia family?
(Another one of the pots managed to be outdoors when a late frost came. It actually took that in stride and is in good shape. I was amazed because I've often seen the damage late frosts do to grown black locust trees. Good job little guys.)
tel jetson wrote:after reading Ben Law's The Woodland Way, I decided to try out a traditional forestry practice called "shredding". I'm not very familiar with this practice, but it involves removing the branches, leaves, and tops of living trees toward the end of summer. the leaves still have plenty of protein in them at this point and, depending on species, make good food for critters.
so, having previously read about trials of black locust hay, I tried this out on a small stand of black locust this weekend. I left the branches laying in the sun for a day, then cut the leaves off and piled them in the hay loft. our goats love the dried leaves. I'm hoping that I gathered enough to get them through the winter without buying in hay.
it was a lot of work, but I think it will be easier next year, as the branches that grow back will be smaller. after a few years of this, I'll start harvesting the stout poles that will result. I'll use them for round wood building and firewood. new stems will sprout from roots and the whole thing should keep humming along indefinitely.
This shredding exercise is a very interesting concept when you consider that if forces the tree to self prune its root system. In a Nitrogen fixing tree, this means subsurface Nitrogen release. It's like extreme chop and drop.
I've been searching on this and have not yet found an answer.
I'm reading some old USDA guides on growing black locust. They claim that black locusts growing in soils with a dearth of the right rhizobial species (i.e. suppressed root nodule formation) were much more susceptible to the locust borer and it's damage.
I'm planting black locust started from seed as nursery trees in an apple orchard I'm starting this year. The closest black locust I've seen is about three miles away. I can find zero information on which species of rhizobia play nice with black locust and no one sells a "black locust inoculant."
Whatever those species of rhizobia are, I doubt they're flourishing where I'm planting because nothing is flourishing there, not even the weeds :) Who knows if there's ever been any black locust on the land. The only one I know of (three miles away) is there because someone intentionally planted it.
Does anyone have any experience with this? I'd love to give my trees the best chance against the borers I can because the borer is here, but wheel bugs are not.
Tom DeCoste wrote:I ordinarily sell lots of black locust seedlings. This is the last year I will have them. My state has banned them starting next year. Maine is such a large state with significant differences in growing zones from south to north. I wish they had excluded the northern parts of the state,at least. If anyone is interested. In bundles of ten, they are pretty inexpensive. https://jiovi.com/collections/plants-for-permaculture-gardens-all/products/black-locust-robinia-pseudoacacia?variant=13796421315
Tom, this ban really, really does stink. Down here in southern Maine black locust has fully naturalized. When you consider that we're just outside of it's native range and with climate change there's no way it wouldn't have spread here naturally anyway (and that some of our native tree species are starting to perform less well here and will need to move north) then you really have to question the logic. It seems to mostly be emotionally driven by ideas of how things are "supposed to be". Big question is, how the heck do you fight unreasonable bans like this? These plants that were banned have now spread to the point where people spreading them has nothing to do with how they disperse. Nature is spreading then at rates orders of magnitude greater. I can't buy a black locust or an autumn olive even though they are all around me and literally billions of their seeds are being dispersed every year. Anyone have any ideas on how to eliminate ineffective bans like this?
Martin Bernal wrote:I got about 6000 seeds in mail a few months ago. how close can I plant Black Locust trees together when planting into a new swale?? I do plan on chop an drop and copice them later. are there any issues with planting them closely together in a swale. I don't have money to buy other the many different variety of trees at this time, but I want to get something in the ground.
I've found various guidelines online. These have been the most helpful website write-ups:
Here's a great, old USDA write up on the matter by a fellow named William Mattoon:
I actually had to capture the text out of that and turn it into a PDF to make it more user friendly. But lots of good info in there!
I'm planting mine 50 feet apart, but that's because they are nursery trees for standard apples(basically everything spaced at 25 feet apart).
One recommendation in the above material for a tree farm is 800 trees per acre (~15 foot tree spacing) then logged to 50% density at ten years (400 trees per acre, ~ 30 ft spacing), then the whole crop is harvested at 20 years.
In Fukuoka's "The Way of Natural Farming" he recommended planting Australian black wattles (I consider the black locust roughly equivalent to his use of acacia) along streams/swails/irrigation channels, about every 60 feet. This was because of the black wattles' extensive root system (which can reach 60 ft in diameter for a tree that's only 30 ft tall - and that is achieved in only five years!). I have no idea if the black locust root system is at all analogous with the black wattles' root system.
Hope some of that helps!
I coppice my BL for fuel wood. The thorns are a real PIA. If we could breed a thornless variety it would make a great tree even better.
I planted them in gallon pots on the porch for the summer. One thrived , one lived and the third didn't make it.
At the end of the summer I planted them in their new location. All I had on hand to protect them was some rabbit wire... with the thorns and my valiant golden retriever, I hoped the deer would stay away. Alas... the dog was off some where, no doubt with one or two tennis balls in her mouth , the thorns merely showed the doe where the next bite was.... before the snow buried them they were bare stalks with thorns !
While reading this wonderful collection of wisdom on permies this winter (and thinking I would need new locust starts in the spring ) I came across a photo/video of a young BL stalk in with the goats. Totally bare stalk. Apparently not a problem. I had hope that if a black locust sprout could survive and thrive in a goat pen then no silly white tail doe should be able to permanently hurt one.
Here they are this May. Other than the very top of each shoot they are growing like crazy! Take that momma deer!