Collected Eastern Red Cedar

Joe Dupre'

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I spied this ERC on the roadside over a year ago. I cut about 3 feet off of it's 7' height and trimmed a few longer branches Everything went well until I drove by one day and the mowing machines had done their damage. Evidently, the driver was mowing that part of the ditch bank with the mower held vertically. He really did a number on it. Well, I have some deadwood where I didn't plan on having any! No styling yet, just trimmed the dead shoots, weak shoots and overly long branches. Sun, water and fertilizer for the next year. It looks like picking a design will be challenging.

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bwaynef

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I'd focus on getting this tree vigorous. Think long and hard before you remove anything. Once its growing strong, set the structure, then really consider grafting it with shimpaku. It might be too late to worry about now, but what's it potted in?
 

Joe Dupre'

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Won't be grafting it with shimpaku for sure. I appreciate the natural foliage. Yes, it will be pampered and allowed to rest this coming year......water and fertilizer. For potting mix, I use probably 70% organic and 30% inorganic. The organic is mostly pine bark and well-composted oak compost. Before the soil police recoil in horror, I've found ERC grow incredibly well in high organic soil. It's plenty porous enough to drain well. This is South Louisiana, so NO native plants grow in inorganic soils. Well, some plants grow in clay type soils, which or inorganic, but we don't have any kind of rocks, boulders, exposed bedrock , etc. If you find a rock, you can bet someone hauled it here for roadbuilding or some such.
 
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Tieball

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Won't be grafting it with shimpaku for sure. I appreciate the natural foliage. Yes, it will be pampered and allowed to rest this coming year......water and fertilizer. For potting mix, I use probably 70% organic and 30% inorganic. The organic is mostly pine bark and well-composted oak compost. Before the soil police recoil in horror, I've found ERC grow incredibly well in high organic soil. It's plenty porous enough to drain well. This is South Louisiana, so NO native plants grow in inorganic soils. Well, some plants grow in clay type soils, which or inorganic, but we don't have any kind of rocks, boulders, exposed bedrock , etc. If you find a rock, you can bet someone hauled it here for roadbuilding or some such.
I like the way you’ve explained the soil mixture used. You have a great view of the earth and how to best incorporate into your growing.

Perhaps you’ve explained this before.....so a brief, simplified, comment works. What makes up “oak compost”? I have plenty of old oaks around me...and decades and decades of fallen oak leaves fallen and naturally decomposing. I’m hoping this is a key ingredient.
 

Joe Dupre'

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Tieball, that's exactly what oak compost is .......composted leaves and twigs. I have a 4.5' diameter oak tree in my front yard and it gives me all the leaves and twigs I need. I just pile them up, wet them down every few days and turn the pile when I think about it. I just screen the compost through 1/2" hardware cloth and make my mix.

May offend a few people, but this is what I've found.........not read about ....but found through experience. Collected trees grow very well in rich, organic soil. No need for bonsai soil the first year or two. I've done it both ways many times.......organic vs bonsai soil. I've come to the conclusion that bonsai soil SLOWS a tree down so it doesn't put out a lot of coarse, long growth in trees that have reached a near-finished state. If you are trying to grow branches and put on girth, put the tree in high organic soil. You buy a 3" diameter tree of almost any variety from a nursery, and it has spent it's life in high organic soil. It must work, or you wouldn't have bought the tree. Another year or two won't hurt.

You may be able to argue that what I've said is "not right" but you CANNOT argue that what I've experienced did not happen. See signature line at the end of my posts.
 
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Forsoothe!

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Tieball, that's exactly what oak compost is .......composted leaves and twigs. I have a 4.5' diameter oak tree in my front yard and it gives me all the leaves and twigs I need. I just pile them up, wet them down every few days and turn the pile when I think about it. I just screen the compost through 1/2" hardware cloth and make my mix.

May offend a few people, but this is what I've found.........not read about ....but found through experience. Collected trees grow very well in rich, organic soil. No need for bonsai soil the first year or two. I've done it both ways many times.......organic vs bonsai soil. I've come to the conclusion that bonsai soil SLOWS a tree down so it doesn't put out a lot of coarse, long growth in trees that have reached a near-finished state. If you are trying to grow branches and put on girth, put the tree in high organic soil. You buy a 3" diameter tree of almost any variety from a nursery, and it has spent it's life in high organic soil. It must work, or you wouldn't have bought the tree. Another year or two won't hurt.

You may be able to argue that what I've said is "not right" but you CANNOT argue that what I've experienced did not happen. See signature line at the end of my posts.
Yes, you've discovered what the Japanese understand quite well. Put it bonsai mix to stop or slow growth.
 

Joe Dupre'

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Yes, you've discovered what the Japanese understand quite well. Put it bonsai mix to stop or slow growth.
I'm sure they do, but it seems to be overlooked by a big percentage of bonsai enthusiasts. I get the distinct impression from reading about soil that, if you don't have some kind of high-percentage inorganic soil, you are not really "doing bonsai".

My two mostly-finished Bald Cypress bonsai slowed way down when put in a 50/50 organic/inorganic mix. That is what was needed at the time. I collect most of my trees, and sometimes regular old Miracle Gro potting soil gets put in the pot for a new collection. Works fine.
 

Tieball

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Tieball, that's exactly what oak compost is .......composted leaves and twigs. I have a 4.5' diameter oak tree in my front yard and it gives me all the leaves and twigs I need. I just pile them up, wet them down every few days and turn the pile when I think about it. I just screen the compost through 1/2" hardware cloth and make my mix.

May offend a few people, but this is what I've found.........not read about ....but found through experience. Collected trees grow very well in rich, organic soil. No need for bonsai soil the first year or two. I've done it both ways many times.......organic vs bonsai soil. I've come to the conclusion that bonsai soil SLOWS a tree down so it doesn't put out a lot of coarse, long growth in trees that have reached a near-finished state. If you are trying to grow branches and put on girth, put the tree in high organic soil. You buy a 3" diameter tree of almost any variety from a nursery, and it has spent it's life in high organic soil. It must work, or you wouldn't have bought the tree. Another year or two won't hurt.

You may be able to argue that what I've said is "not right" but you CANNOT argue that what I've experienced did not happen. See signature line at the end of my posts.
Thanks. I understand. I have many really old oaks....and billions of oak leaves and tiny twigs. Everywhere. I just have not used them.....something I need to start. The layers of leaves sit out in the sun, shade, rain, snow and all this get repeated every year. I think...but don’t know for sure....that the fertile decomposed “soil” below the layers and layers of oak leaves at the ground level has to be good earth for growing. With the small twigs and all it is mostly coarse....not like a potting soil. Much more coarse. I probably just need to remove some oak leaf layers and harvest the dark base....and use it. Am I close?
 

Woocash

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Nice find. Roadsides are just great for tree hunting, for some reason they tend to have more character than most other young trees. Probably, in part, due to your lawnmower maniac friend! Even on unmanaged verges though the trees often get stunted, have more low movement and get rougher bark younger.
 

Forsoothe!

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I'm sure they do, but it seems to be overlooked by a big percentage of bonsai enthusiasts. I get the distinct impression from reading about soil that, if you don't have some kind of high-percentage inorganic soil, you are not really "doing bonsai".

My two mostly-finished Bald Cypress bonsai slowed way down when put in a 50/50 organic/inorganic mix. That is what was needed at the time. I collect most of my trees, and sometimes regular old Miracle Gro potting soil gets put in the pot for a new collection. Works fine.
Conventional wisdom is rarely wise. It's the herd mentality. The inorganic portion contributes nothing but quick draining which is only necessary if you are growing something that needs that, or the where the local conditions are too rainy. The only places where plants grow in gravel or scree is on a mountainside. So it's reasonable to grow those kinds of pines in bonsai mix although those kinds of trees also grow bigger and more lush in the landscape, too, and may or may not actually like growing in scree. Plants that can grow in really barren places like rocky mountainsides and steppes like Sagebrush won't grow unless very well drained and in full sun. The problem that makes it impossible to argue about potting soils is that there are so many different kinds of plants and so many different soil mixes and so many different micro-climates and personal habits that one can always cite an exception to any rule. Every formula will work for someone, and every formula will work badly for someone else.
 

Joe Dupre'

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Tieball, the thing I might suggest is to rake the top layer of leaves and twigs and pile that up. The lower layers are so broken down that they may have mixed with the true soil and formed a mix that might not drain as well. The "one year" compost , I find , is the best because it's broken down enough but still porous and drains well.
 

Joe Dupre'

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Nice find. Roadsides are just great for tree hunting, for some reason they tend to have more character than most other young trees. Probably, in part, due to your lawnmower maniac friend! Even on unmanaged verges though the trees often get stunted, have more low movement and get rougher bark younger.

ERC, allowed to grow normally, makes for a pretty boring trunk line. The road crews basically do what bonsai people do........allow a tree to grow a bit and severely cut it back. True, they don't do it with as much care as we do, but that adds a layer of character to a tree that we might not. A big part of my bonsai effort is walking 50 miles a year on roadsides and disturbed places looking for that character.
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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Nice trunk, it has taper and a nebari. I think the future bonsai tree is likely with one of the first 4 or 5 branches becoming the new main trunk. But you are right, let it recover a year or two, before any reduction.

Leave long jins when cutting off the unnecessary. You can always shorten them later.
 

Joe Dupre'

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Leo, I really like the natural foliage. Is it world-class show worthy? Hardly. I don't even really care if the tree throws out juvenile foliage..........whcih it does in spades! I grow my trees for me. My club does have a couple of shows a year......mainly to make the public aware of bonsai as a hobby. No judging or ribbons and that's the way I like it. If the club decides to start judging, I would enter the exact same trees and let the awards go where they will.
 

Woocash

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What’s the deal with the shimpaku grafting? Is that a common practice on Eastern Red Cedar?
 

Tieball

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Tieball, the thing I might suggest is to rake the top layer of leaves and twigs and pile that up. The lower layers are so broken down that they may have mixed with the true soil and formed a mix that might not drain as well. The "one year" compost , I find , is the best because it's broken down enough but still porous and drains well.
Thanks.
 
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Woocash

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So many people don't like the juvenile ERC foliage and shimpaku is considered by most to be the ultimate juniper foliage.
That makes sense if the ERC foliage takes a while to come in. It’s a funny old tactic though, creating some sort of Frankentree, I mean. Does the rootstock affect the grafted wood in any way though?
 

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