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propagation bed

 
Kay Bee
Posts: 471
Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
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I'm looking to set up a propagation bed this year.  I have used small versions in shallow plastic tubs full of sand with a couple of misters off my drip irrigation, but I'd like to set up a dedicated system.

I'm thinking of starting with 100-200 sq ft of bed space.  has anyone here set up a system this size (or larger)?  My initial thoughts are:  line the bed with pond liner and fill ~ 6" deep with pea gravel, built on a shallow incline to allow the excess water to drain.  A small pond on the down-hill side could act as the reservoir and hold a submersible pump plugged in to a timer to allow for frequent watering or misting.  Do you need misters or will frequent pumping to the highest point in the bed be sufficient (similar to an aquaponic setup)?

Most of the cuttings I am thinking of would be for shrubs/bushes initially.  Trees are a different challenge and grafting on to rootstocks or air layering seems the best option for low tech cloning of named varieties (except for figs which are about the easiest plant to clone).

Would a couple of fish in the small pond be a good or bad thing in this kind of set up?
 
                      
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I'm in the nursery business and we propagate everything we sell. Most of our plant propagation is by intermittent mist.

Personally I believe in keeping it very simple. We lay 16ft cattle panels on concrete blocks. This serves as the table on which we set the trays on. We stick all of our cuttings in cell trays and they are misted by upright mist sticks that are controlled by a timer.

If your summers are very hot I would provide some sort of shade to protect the cuttings while they're rooting.

If you need any additional info don't hesitate to ask

Jerry
 
Kay Bee
Posts: 471
Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
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Thanks for the info Jerry!

Do you have a brand of timer that you would recommend?
 
                        
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Hey Jerry!  That sounds simple enough.  Ill give it a try!
 
                      
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   The best timer I've found so far is the Dig5006-IP. It's capable of handling 6 different stations and also has a battery backup. It is a little pricey but it's well worth it if you're going to be doing a lot of propagation.

   The key to being successful with an internittent mist system is making sure the the leaves of the cuttings never dry out. Some plants like a lot of mist and others do not. It may sound complicated but it's really not. I can give you more detailed instruction once you decide what you'd like to propagate.

Jerry
 
jacque greenleaf
pollinator
Posts: 489
Location: Burton, WA (USDA zone 8, Sunset zone 5) - old hippie heaven
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Hi Jerry, have you ever used a nearing frame? I'm trying to decide whether or not to build one...

http://www.eskimo.com/~enumclaw/Tips/Propagation/Making%20a%20Nearing%20Frame.html

 
rose macaskie
Posts: 2134
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A couple of fish in  apond eat the mosquito larvae which is a good thing.. agri rose macaskie.
 
                      
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Hi Jacque

I'm very familiar with Nearing frames but I don't actually use them. There are some types of plants that just don't respond well to intermittent mist and a Nearing frame is an excellent way to propagate these types of plants.

Jerry
 
jacque greenleaf
pollinator
Posts: 489
Location: Burton, WA (USDA zone 8, Sunset zone 5) - old hippie heaven
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Much as I'd love to have a mist system, it won't be possible for at least a couple years - we will be hauling water for a while. So I'm looking at alternatives. The links I have found for Nearing frames are not real informative as to how to use them. Is it a question of trial and error, or are there general guidelines somewhere for how to tell when to use softwood vs. hardwood cuttings, etc?

Thanks for your help, I'm pretty good at rooting houseplants, but native hawthorns are a different story!
 
                      
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Hi Jacque

Let me know specifically what you'd like to propagate and hopefully I can help. Personally I haven't propagated any type of Hawthorn but I think the easiest way would be by seed. I'll research it a little further and let you know.

I also have info somewhere on Nearing frames==I'll see if I can find it.

Jerry

 
Leif Kravis
Posts: 78
Location: Toronto Canada
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I have Hawthorns growing into my backyard sending up shoots from it's roots, i think it should propagate easily from cuttings it's tenacious
 
                                            
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In addition to air layering I have good results layering branches that are near the ground. I intentionally leave low branches on new fruit trees for this reason. Even species that are considered difficult to root by cuttings are more successful by layering. Because low branches are often few in number we can't propagate the numbers we might by other methods but it's worth doing when you can. Often the same branch can be reused for a second crop. If the branch sends up multiple sprouts you can often get several rooted starts off of it. This is similar to "stooling" wherein one heavily prunes a fruit rootstock, buries the remaining stem / branches and harvests, for replanting, the rooted sprouts after a season's (+/-) growth. I will often pre-wound a branch by scratching the bark and letting it scab before layering it. This encourages quicker roots from the damaged area.

As with the hawthorns mentioned above, sometimes merely damaging some of the roots will stimulate sprouting near the wounds. These can be left to root for lifting and transplanting at a later date. Some plums and cherries, for example, are known to do this spontaneously.
 
Paul Cereghino
gardener
Posts: 855
Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
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jacque g wrote:
Much as I'd love to have a mist system, it won't be possible for at least a couple years - we will be hauling water for a while. So I'm looking at alternatives. The links I have found for Nearing frames are not real informative as to how to use them. Is it a question of trial and error, or are there general guidelines somewhere for how to tell when to use softwood vs. hardwood cuttings, etc?

Thanks for your help, I'm pretty good at rooting houseplants, but native hawthorns are a different story!


Also consider stooling... Cut low, when it resprouts, heap soil or mulch arond the base... the water sprouts root, then cut and pot up.  I have heard of root cuttings for some species.
 
Pat Black
Posts: 123
Location: Northern New Mexico, USA
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Jacque, I don't feel the misting setup would use much water. Think of a fine mist every 8 minutes that runs for 6 seconds. It is only running from mid-morning to sundown. So the mister would be on no more than 45 seconds per hour. If you can increase the humidity to 60 - 80% in the propagation bed, less mist is needed. Depending on the size of your setup, you're looking at a couple of gallons of water a day. If you don't have enough water for that, then you probably don't have enough water to irrigate the plants once they're rooted!

Misting is essential for almost all softwood cuttings.
 
Ed Waters
Posts: 102
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Jerry: is the DIG5006-IP something you can use for misting?  Not so expensive at 87 dollars, but what I'm reading says that the shortest watering duration is a minute, and everything I'm learning about misting (I'm a beginner) says that the misting cycles only last 5-10 seconds.
We looked at the mechanical leaf as recommended by NM, for regulating the misting, but I read some reviews that said if you have alot of minerals in your water, which we do, that it is going to cause problems.  So we are looking for a timer, and want to be sure we are getting the correct one.

Thanks
Ed
 
Pat Black
Posts: 123
Location: Northern New Mexico, USA
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Ed wrote:
Jerry: is the DIG5006-IP something you can use for misting?  Not so expensive at 87 dollars, but what I'm reading says that the shortest watering duration is a minute, and everything I'm learning about misting (I'm a beginner) says that the misting cycles only last 5-10 seconds.
We looked at the mechanical leaf as recommended by NM, for regulating the misting, but I read some reviews that said if you have alot of minerals in your water, which we do, that it is going to cause problems.  So we are looking for a timer, and want to be sure we are getting the correct one.

Thanks
Ed


Ed, that controller is really more for sprinklers than misters. The electronic leaf will get mineral buildup with hard water, but that simply means you periodically need to readjust the counterweight. Takes one second and no tools to perform. There are dedicated misting controllers but they are pricey.

You can use two mechanical timers. One is just a 24-hour timer that turns the other timer on or off. Set to start mid-morning until sundown. Has to be adjusted seasonally. The second timer just runs the seconds of mist every so many minutes. It triggers a pump or a solenoid valve. I've used the Intermatic brand of these mechanical timers for years in nursery conditions with no troubles.

I haven't used this brand but here's the kind of  timer I'm discussing:
http://www.hummert.com/ProductDetail.aspx?Page=ProductSearchList.aspx&ID=8261&Text=timer




 
Ed Waters
Posts: 102
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Thanks NMG:

Jerry, how does that system work for you?  I keep shying away from the electronic leaf because we have hard well water, and the el is almost 400 dollars new.  For us it isn't about making a living today, its about trying to propagate on an ever-increasing scale without spending a crazy amount of money.  That said, we just bought 2 professional grade heating pads and a thermostat, and they work incredibly well.  Maybe we don't buy any alcohol for a month or two, and buy only the best.  There is always a trade off.

This is all so incredibly exciting for us.  I keep driving by these places that I just want to get out and start snipping away. The University near us has an amazing herb garden that I want to wander through, and do a little collecting.  Not sure what the proper etiquette is. We are not completely clear yet on what to do with the decidious hardwood cuttings after they have rooted, but I've set that as a priority for the next week because we want to get started after the 1st.

I guess we are supposed to be taking cuttings now for fruit trees that we will graft in spring. 

Best to all,

Ed

 
Pat Black
Posts: 123
Location: Northern New Mexico, USA
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Ed wrote:
Jerry, how does that system work for you?  I keep shying away from the electronic leaf because we have hard well water, and the el is almost 400 dollars new. 

A quick internet search found the EL at $199. Really, the hard water is a non-issue.

If you're handy, you can make your own from some sheet metal, a old thermostat with a mercury switch, some all-thread, and a few nuts:
[email]http://www.sunnyjohn.com/photos/devices_tools/dt_artificial_leaf/index.htm[/email]
 
                    
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Ed wrote:
Jerry: is the DIG5006-IP something you can use for misting?  Not so expensive at 87 dollars, but what I'm reading says that the shortest watering duration is a minute, and everything I'm learning about misting (I'm a beginner) says that the misting cycles only last 5-10 seconds.


The shortest watering duration for the 5006IP is one second.  At the bottom of one page I found, you can order it pre-programmed, and the defaults are 7 seconds mist, every ten minutes, from 6 am to 6 pm.

http://mistkits.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=187

An electronic leaf is better in many ways, but if money is limiting, a simple timer can do a decent job for most types of plants. If one adjusts the timer when unusually hot/windy/dry weather sets in, even better.
 
                      
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Hi Ed

The DIG Timer is what I use. I've tried several and it is definitely the best.  It's a 6 station timer so you can use it for misting, drip irrigation, or for sprinklers. If you need help in setting up an intermittent misting system--let me know. They are relatively inexpensive to set up!

Jerry
 
Paula Edwards
Posts: 411
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I had bad luck with my herb seedlings this year. We are in a new place and the climate is different here one day of soaring sun but mostly we have the big wet.
I start the seeds on the veranda which is not good because the wooden veranda cannot stand constant moisture. After transplanting I put the pots in white styrofoam crates from the grocer. But were to put these crates? On the terrace it is too hot or the rain is too strong they wilt away. If I put them under the trees there a zillions of slugs and snails which eat everything. If I put the crates on something this does not stop these beasts. Furthermore even under the trees it was too wet recently and there are lots of leaves falling onto the seedlings.
I yet thought of a shade house, but that won't stop slugs and snails.
Maybe Jerry or someone else has an idea.
 
Jason Long
Posts: 153
Location: Davie, Fl
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NM, Jerry, Jaque and the others: I appreciate your input on this thread, and enjoy the knowledge I am gaining.
 
Ed Waters
Posts: 102
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Jerry: I didn't get a message when you replied on the timer.  Thanks.  It looks like the site is being worked on right now, but I'll keep checking back.  Right now, I have two propagation mats with a thermostat.  As far as cuttings, I can really only do hardwood right now along with a couple of rosemary and sage from the greenhouse.  Lots of blackberries, mulberries, buckthorn, blue honeysuckle, Nanking cherry, goumi.... I have my apple scions in the fridge ready for grafting when the time comes.
I'll buy the misting system when things warm up.
On the propagation mats its nice to see lettuce popping up in 3-4 days.  Couldn't get that this time of year, even with having them close to the woodstove.  Bottom heat really does make all the difference.

Thanks again!!

Ed
 
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