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trees from seed in buckets?  RSS feed

 
Jay Peters
Posts: 75
Location: Montreal, QC mostly. Developing in Southern New Brunswick, Canada.
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Hi All,

Despite the information in 'My Profile' I am for the moment, still in the big City of Montreal QC. Most of my posts relate to the property I'm remotely developing in New Brunswick but not this one. Well not directly anyway...and since my partner just got a new fancy gig here, i will continue to be remote for at least another 1-2 years.

I have recently gained access to my roof; its gets sun basically all day. not a shadow to be had once its reached the horizon in the morning til sunset. Though I don't think my landlord will be very interested in me installing large-ish beds, he doesn't seem to mind less permanent buckets. I would gladly consider my front or back verandas but neither gets heaps of sun. The front gets probably 3-4 hours direct in the morning (if that...the foliage is off in the park across the street right now, so its quite different at the moment) and the back maybe the same in the evening. After reading a post a while back about someone growing chestnuts and hazelnuts (for future transplant) in 5 gallon buckets as directed by Mark Shepard I thought this could be a productive use of my time in my current location. I will need lots of trees to plant at my place in NB and won't be doing anything much but a road, some clearing, and cover cropping this summer and would like to feel like I'm not wasting valuable tree growing time. I also have a limited budget (due to road), so I figure if I can grow some saplings from seed, I'd be that much further ahead. I do make regular enough trips out East that I could bring along anything that survive for transplanting at some point.

So those are my intentions, here are my questions/concerns:

In the post regarding Chestnuts and Hazels from seed the buckets were then buried in the earth itself. This I imagine would help regulate the temps of the earth in the bucket, and prevent too much extreme heat and freezing. Without the earth around it to regulate, do you think this will work? Also, as I said, the roof is a very exposed place. Summer will get hot and winter, will get very cold.

I've missed the boat on nuts I think seeing as I understand that they should be refrigerated in a damp cloth over winter for them to sprout in the spring (to simulate the cold damp ground) so I'm thinking mostly of apples right now, or whatever else *might survive the Mark Shepard patented STUN technique in such a harsh (canadian roof!) climate. Maybe STUN doesn't make any sense in this context. Maybe I should stick to the slightly less out of the way and more easily waterable verandas, despite the lack of sun?

Once the trees go dormant in the fall, I could bring them into my shed...though i don't know if that will really help anything. Its still very cold back there this time of year and this clearly does not follow the 'stun' principle. Same goes for water - access won't be good to up there (in other words i may need to haul it) so I'm not sure its really viable.

Has anybody tried to do this, or something like it? Would love some feedback as I'm very new when it comes to growing things except for some harvesting and some landscaping and shrub transplantery. My forte is generally building things not growing them!

If trees from seed in buckets in a harsh environment sounds crazy to you, what else might I do to make use of some time, buckets, dirt, and this harsh rooftop OR not so sunny but slightly less harsh veranda environment?

THANKS!

j

 
Sarah Loy
Posts: 14
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Some trees planted from seed will not be anything like the fruit you harvested them from. You mentioned apples. If you take seeds from a cortland apple you will not grow another cortland. To get the same characteristics as a cortland you need to use a cutting, or scion wood, from a cortland tree. A seed will give you an apple that may or may not be anything you would want to eat. As you go to things that are more generic, not having specific variety names, or more wild, like nut trees, then gathering seed will produce a tree more
like its parent. If you want to grow apples in a bucket you can buy a grafted dwarf variety that will bear fruit in three years. You should provide support for the branches and you will need to provide good suplimental fertilizer like fish emulsion.
A square bucket will help a tree from becoming root bound before you can plant it in the ground. Once roots start circling around they tend to strangle themselves as they mature in the future. If you grow them on the roof to take advantage of all that great light, be sure to use something to shade the bucket itself so that the roots don't overheat. Good luck with your farming.
 
Andrew Schreiber
Posts: 216
Location: Zone 6a, Wahkiacus, WA
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Howdy J,

I'll just put it out there that there are really no "good" options for your situation. However, planting in buckets (with very rich, nutrient dense soil) and surrounding the buckets with earth or mulch strikes me as a viable option.

We have used large amounts of mulch (native forest mulch as well as wheat straw) around some young fruit trees is 1, 5 and 10 gallon pots. This has worked fine for us while we made room in growing spaces to plant them out. We also sensely pack the pots so they together have greater thermal mass.

They have gone through hot summers and intensely cold winters without noticeably detrimental effects. (my concern was primarily deeply frozen roots.)

here's a picture of that nursery space:



On thing to remember is that can only get so much productivity out of a plant in a bucket, primarily because there is so little soil for the plants to feed on. It's root mass can only get so big, which will limit top growth. And if he soil is not intensely fertile, you can easily run into deficiencies. The larger the vessel you can use, the better of the tree will be. Also, which a large pot, you can plant some supporting understory species in the pot with them. Primarily nitrogen fixing plants to help supply that often limited resource. I am fond of dutch white clover.

Including worms into these pots can also help to ensure that the nutrients in the soil are as biologically available as possible.

Hope that helps with your situation.
 
Jay Peters
Posts: 75
Location: Montreal, QC mostly. Developing in Southern New Brunswick, Canada.
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Thanks Folks!

Sarah - I knew that apples grown from seed would vary, but hadn't realized it would be quite so different as all that. Like I said - I'm new!! I am interested in trying to cultivate genetic diversity by growing from seed and selecting the survivors based on the qualities I'd like to see, but it sounds like I should probably just wait until I have ground to plant in...especially for an apple experiment.

Andrew - Good advice! You've got quite the nursery there. I think I'm going to look into some more practical urban gardening projects as it seems there will likely be little return for the amount of work and resources this particular scheme may take.

So I'm thinking perhaps it makes more sense to start with annuals on the veranda...I'm actually not sure where to start which is what bred this idea. There are community gardens around but the waiting list tends to be pretty long and I doubt I'll have any luck this year or even next. Maybe its time for me to head on over to the gardening for beginners forum!! As I've said, I have some experience with planting and keeping perennials alive (trees and shrubs) but none whatsoever when it comes to growing anything from seed...unless you count my summer herb window box from this past year where I let some arugula self seed by accident... !

Thanks again.
j
 
Andrew Schreiber
Posts: 216
Location: Zone 6a, Wahkiacus, WA
21
forest garden goat hugelkultur toxin-ectomy trees woodworking
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Checking out the gardening forum is a great step. There is a lot of good information there.
 
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