Digging it... Or not.

Nigel Black

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I have a quandry, a dilemma, a seemingly insoluble problem.

There is a stretch of road nearby that has a small stand of Virginia pine on it. Seedlings and older plants both, all of varying ages. And I found out that they are going to bulldoze it come this Monday, July 23rd. I know, I know, July is not the time to be collecting. I dug one pine a few days a go to see what I was dealing with. Very sandy clay soil. Despite my best efforts, the root ball fell apart, it bare-rooted itself. I brought that one home and submerged it in coarse sandy soil as per Naka (Vol 1) and have been misting multiple times daily with plain water, and other times, sea kelp. Keeping in a protected shady spot.

So should I even try to dig any of the remaining plants? I seriously doubt that the root balls will fair any better due to the nature of the soil. And I'm not sure how great the odds are with the coarse sand and misting regimen. I hate to dig something to doom it to death, yet these trees are doomed regardless. Come Monday, they get turned under.

What to do, what to do...

Nigel
 

Tachigi

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Nigel, this is a no brainer.....Dig'em up! There going to be firewood (or kindling) in a couple of days so you might as well go for it. The nature of Virginia Pine is to grow in sand. Everyone that I have ever collected has come up from sand, bare root. After loosing a few I adopted a method of sliding the bare root subject into a bed of damp sphagnum on site. Then from there into my potting medium sphagnum and all. So go for it....test those horticultural skills of yours:). Good luck and keep us posted.
 

Dav4

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I've collected a pitch pine from a similar site in late July and the tree survived...I did manage to kill it several years later. I've read that some evergreens will enter a summer pseudo-dormancy period during the height of the summer heat. This could work in your favor. Definately worth a shot. Good luck,

Dave
 

Nigel Black

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Tom,

So you advocate an actual potting mix as opposed to Naka's suggestion of pure coarse sand?
What do you use? I considered sifted\screened composted pine bark, with screened granite saned and turface. But as this is uncharted territory for me I was uncertain. I've bare-rooted collected plants before, but always plants that are either young enough to withstand it or plants that are near bomb proof such as Chinese elms and trident maples.

Either way, I'll be over there again tomorrow or Sunday.

Nigel
 

Martin Sweeney

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Nigel,

If the trees are worth collecting, give them a try. In other words, if you would collect them at the optimum time, collect them now. If you wouldn't, then you would have to decide if the work is worth the result.

I have never done this type of collecting, but I would think sphagnum and sand would be better than sand alone. Basically, kind of treat them like big cuttings. I would defer to Tom Brown as to what he uses, sphagnum and sand or sphagnum and bonsai soil. His experience makes his advice worth listening to.

Regards and good digging!

Martin
 

Tachigi

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Nigel,

If the trees are worth collecting, give them a try. In other words, if you would collect them at the optimum time, collect them now. If you wouldn't, then you would have to decide if the work is worth the result.
Excellent advise given here Nigel.
 

Tachigi

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Tom,

So you advocate an actual potting mix as opposed to Naka's suggestion of pure coarse sand?
What do you use? I considered sifted\screened composted pine bark, with screened granite saned and turface. But as this is uncharted territory for me I was uncertain. I've bare-rooted collected plants before, but always plants that are either young enough to withstand it or plants that are near bomb proof such as Chinese elms and trident maples.

Either way, I'll be over there again tomorrow or Sunday.

Nigel
(wincing) Nigel, this is my personal preference. Everyone has there own recipe for what works for them. I don't put collected trees in pure sand anymore. John Naka had great success I'm sure with it. He also collected in an arid environment that may have lent to better results with sand. I have a better result from a mix I came up with which was originally a Colin Lewis recipe that I bastardized and found that my tweak made this collecting soil worked better. I use sphagnum in all my collected trees it works wonders. It has antiseptic properties and from what I can tell helps stimulate growth. It has good moisture retention as well. When I said slip the tree roots with sphagnum on site I also meant to put some, not all, of that sphagnum into the pot when you pot up. As for mix I use lava rock, turface,(grit if it is being used for conifers), large pine bark no smaller than 3/8 and some of the dig sites sandy soil. Colin's belief (which I found to be true) for a initial collected mix is is to keep the component size as large as you can to promote large root root growth at a rapid speed. Denser materials (i.e. sand or small size components) will keep the roots small initially something in your situation right here and now you don't want. I have seen your horticultural skill first hand. You should have no problem. Just remember that the soil mix is not a recipe set in granite. It needs to help you in your environment, so tweaking it for your zone would be the right thing to do.

Glad to hear your going for it, let us know how it turns out.
 

Nigel Black

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Thanks Martin and Dav for your replies.

Martin at least two are worth collecting. The one I have already dug was the best of the bunch, and two more have great potential. There are many more there that are at least ten years old that are so dwarfed and heavy with branches it's hard to tell what they look like underneath all that green.

And thanks Tom for the complement.

More questions though. First, have you found what Colin Lewis said about the spaghnum moss having to be fresh\green to be true? I have some that I obtained dry, don't know if that will still be effective. I noticed the moss on the elms you sent didn't appear to be fresh so I assume spaghnum in either state is better than none.

I'll try your suggestion regarding soil Tom. The thing I'm still adapting to that makes this hard here in Ga are all the darn species of fungi here. Seems like everything rots given half a chance. Have lost a lot of plants as a result. I'm unsure about drenching with a fungicide upon potting but I suppose using some captan won't lessen the odds any.

Dav, did you do anything particular that you feel might have helped your pine survive the collecting process? Please don't say superthrive... (grin)

Nigel
 

imholte

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Try to get as much of the roots as possible, should be easy if they are in sand. Keep the roots moist.

Collecting can be done nearly any time of the year, though winter and spring are by far the easiest and best for the tree (if you have time to do it in the winter or spring then wait and do it then, but in this case). Since these trees will be destroyed I would go for it, with the proper permissions of course.
 

Tachigi

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First, have you found what Colin Lewis said about the sphagnum moss having to be fresh\green to be true? I have some that I obtained dry, don't know if that will still be effective. I noticed the moss on the elms you sent didn't appear to be fresh so I assume sphagnum in either state is better than none.
Yes, I found it to be true. Does that mean you need to get live sphagnum...no. Sphagnum in any state will be better than none (IMO). I have a friend in western Mass that collects live sphagnum from the bogs there. He packages it up and sends me 10 baggies a year. This is some great stuff but being a limited quantity it can be hard to decide what plants get it. The next best is the milled from New Zealand. When hydrated it will rejuvenate and start growing again it takes about 2 weeks for it to really start kicking. In fact the elms were packed in this same sphagnum you just saw it before it kicked off is my guess.
The thing I'm still adapting to that makes this hard here in Ga are all the darn species of fungi here. Seems like everything rots given half a chance.
Well there is a statement in favor for fast draining soil, it sure can' hurt in those conditions. I read somewhere that if you plant a chive in with your bonsai that it will combat fungus,. True?...who knows, but it sure wouldn't hurt to give it a shot a either bust a myth or give it some credibility. Next spring I'm going to try it in a few that will be cooking for a while. I to have new problems with fungus here in PA that I didn't encounter in Maryland.
 

Nigel Black

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"Well there is a statement in favor for fast draining soil, it sure can' hurt in those conditions."

Uh-huh. I lost a huge segment of my cacti collection upon moving from Texas to Georgia. Things don't dry out as fast here, and it doesn't get as hot.

So what my real issue here is, would be one of soil. The discussion should have been NOT *how* to collect, as I already understand that. But what soil?

Has anyone ever coined the phrase "Yamadori soil" before? I wonder.

Even my own experiences with different species of pine seem to indicate a need for variation depending on the species in question.

Have I opened a can of worms? Then go fishing...

Nigel
 

Dav4

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Sorry, Nigel. That tree survived despite my ignorance. I potted it up in pure sand and probably over watered it, but it did just fine. That was my first attempt at collecting. Since then, my little bit of yamadori(urban, mostly) collecting and post-dig care indicates a very granular, fast draining soil works well at root development. Also, keeping the trees shaded during the afternoon heat avoids heat stress. Tachigi has loads more experience collecting then me, so he may have something there with his soil recipe. Good luck,

Dave
 
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