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Growing and refrigerating trees

 
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Hey all.  I became interested in permaculture a few months ago.  I got a grow lamp and began growing nitrogen-fixing trees from seed in October, just to learn the ins and outs.  I live in an area that I’d describe as high-desert.  Zone 5 with the occasional sub-zero winter, and a lot of droughts in the summer months.  Juniper and sagebrush grow well here.

A lot of trees considered invasive species in other areas, like Russian Olive and Black Locust, will grow where I am, but they’re not usually invasive, because it takes a fair amount of nurturing to get them going.  They have to be watered the first year, and they have to be caged to prevent the deer and livestock from eating them.

I’ve done some research and found some good species, including Locust, Russian Olive, Siberian Pea Tree, and Sea Buckthorn.  I’ve figured out how to grow all of these well from seed.  The problem is that these trees grow really fast indoors.  They outgrow a 4” pot in less than 2 months.

I’d like to have a bunch ready for next year, but I don’t have the space or setup for 6” or 8” pots.  I was wondering if I’d have success growing them in 4” pots and setting them outside (where it’s cold) and allowing them to go into dormancy, then planting them in the spring when they green up?

I’m going to try this and see if it works, but I thought I’d ask for any thoughts or suggestions here.

Thanks,
Gregg
 
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What if you treated them as if they are bonsai? In other words, just leave them in the 4" pots until spring.
 
Gregg Boethin
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The problem is that they get root-bound and die.  They start losing their lower leaves and limbs, and this continues to the top until they die.  I have a big pile of trees that died this way.
 
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Howdy Gregg welcome to permies!

Can you start the trees outside, in pots, and just let them stay outside the whole time? Build a small enclosure to keep the animals off of them?  
 
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I think what Joseph means is keep TRIMMING the plants back and keep the plants small, this should cause root die-back.

I believe the general rule would be to try and keep the canopy/top of plants from reaching beyond the measurements of the container.  So possibly  keeping your plants trimmed to about 6" tall by 4" wide may be worth a try especially if you already planted them.

Or put some outside an leave some in and trim/bonsai them. I know sea buckthorn is quite hardy and may survive the winter even as a seedling and i would assume SIBERIAN pea tree would as well.
 
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Other than treating them like Bonsai you can get them growing as you do now then dig a trench and "Heel in" this means you will take them out of the little 4" pots and lay them into the trench on an angle so the trunks of the whips are laying at about a 30 degree angle from horizontal then you  put the soil back over the roots. Come spring when you are ready to put them in their forever space, just dig them up, separate the root systems and plant them out.  I heel in at a spacing of around 12 inches apart, you can then cover them to prevent deer from eating them a lot easier too.

Redhawk
 
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:Other than treating them like Bonsai you can get them growing as you do now then dig a trench and "Heel in" this means you will take them out of the little 4" pots and lay them into the trench on an angle so the trunks of the whips are laying at about a 30 degree angle from horizontal then you  put the soil back over the roots. Come spring when you are ready to put them in their forever space, just dig them up, separate the root systems and plant them out.  I heel in at a spacing of around 12 inches apart, you can then cover them to prevent deer from eating them a lot easier too.

Redhawk




This is what I would do!  You could even put them in the larger pots and heal them in.  Just cover the trench with the dirt from the trench and any biomass you have laying around.
 
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