English Oak: Cornfed Edition

cornfed

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The last tree I got potted today was Quercus robur, the English Oak. I am new to all of this, so don't take this thread as advice (unless it isn't coming from me).

Screenshot 2021-04-09 230125.pngScreenshot 2021-04-09 230141.png

It was propagated from seed last year. I bought it in a one-gallon pot with 80% pine bark. It was the only one at the nursery.

20210409_161515.jpg

My goal for this tree is to thicken the trunk and develop the roots by repotting it in a larger, 5-gallon Rootmaker container with a more air-retentive soil. I realize I could plant it in the ground for maximum thickening, but I simply don't want to.

20210409_162549.jpg
Radial root pattern.

20210409_162555.jpg
These were the the most difficult roots I teased today. Just very tough.

20210409_162601.jpg
From below.

20210409_163449.jpg
I'm using a kitchen-sink blend as a substrate. I ultimately need 50+gallons of substrate to up-pot my newly acquired trees, so using up as much of the material I have recently purchased for my soil tests was beneficial. It's equal parts Sifted Pine Bark, Grit, Turface & Diatomaceous Earth (2-5mm) with a dash of Sphagnum Peat Fines. I tested the soil's mechanical properties at 29% Saturated Porosity (air-filled space), and 25% Field Capacity (water-filled space) after draining. Hopefully it will work, because conventional substrates are difficult to find. I added the fines back into the mix after sifting the

I am divided on whether to let it grow naturally or to do some trimming. There are four branches coming out near the base that will help thicken the trunk. Another group of branches above it, one of which will probably become a new leader. When I trim, I would want to either air-layer or make a cutting.

I will be posting separate threads for my other species as I get them in pots this weekend. (five more to go).
 

Bnana

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These curled young leaves are normal for this species, they'll become flatter but often start a bit warped.
 

cornfed

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These curled young leaves are normal for this species, they'll become flatter but often start a bit warped.

Thank you for putting my mind at ease.
 

cornfed

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A closeup of the situation going on down at the base. Four branches at about the same height and at right angles. Right now I'm just hoping they'll accelerate the taper.

But my gut tells me I have some options down here and I'm not sure what all the opportunities are or when I'll have to make a move.

IMG_6834.JPG
 

Woocash

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A closeup of the situation going on down at the base. Four branches at about the same height and at right angles. Right now I'm just hoping they'll accelerate the taper.

But my gut tells me I have some options down here and I'm not sure what all the opportunities are or when I'll have to make a move.

Nice. Personally, I might be tempted to remove the central leader at some point soon, or chop it low and grow another leader from it (because bonsai doesn’t like the number 4 for some reason), then wire the other shoots to spread them out a bit and turn it into a clump. You don’t get too many Q. Robur clumps in the wild, but when you do they make for quite powerful trees.

This one is awesome. I have much better pictures but I think they’re on my old phone.
49154FAF-DC6C-45CA-88C0-3DCF2D519EC5.jpeg
 

cornfed

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Thanks for thoughts!

At first blush I don't really want to chop the main leader soon because I want the trunk to thicken up. I'm not looking for giant trunks with pancake nebari, I just want proportionality between the trunk, height and leaf size.

I am thinking maybe I want to wire or weight the little branches more horizontally for this year's growth. Maybe remove one or two of them in the summer?

I don't know. This is the tree I'm planning on bringing to the next NBS meeting for input. We're going live meetings again next month!

But thank you for your input. I hadn't thought of doing a clump, now I'm exploring it.
 

Bnana

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Q. robur clumps are pretty common in heavily grazed areas. However when they come above the browsing line they often develop a single trunk and the other branches/trunks die.
I'd leave the trunk for some time to thicken the trunk as well.
 

Eckhoffw

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The last tree I got potted today was Quercus robur, the English Oak. I am new to all of this, so don't take this thread as advice (unless it isn't coming from me).


It was propagated from seed last year. I bought it in a one-gallon pot with 80% pine bark. It was the only one at the nursery.


My goal for this tree is to thicken the trunk and develop the roots by repotting it in a larger, 5-gallon Rootmaker container with a more air-retentive soil. I realize I could plant it in the ground for maximum thickening, but I simply don't want to.

View attachment 367040
Radial root pattern.

View attachment 367041
These were the the most difficult roots I teased today. Just very tough.

View attachment 367042
From below.

View attachment 367043

I'm using a kitchen-sink blend as a substrate. I ultimately need 50+gallons of substrate to up-pot my newly acquired trees, so using up as much of the material I have recently purchased for my soil tests was beneficial. It's equal parts Sifted Pine Bark, Grit, Turface & Diatomaceous Earth (2-5mm)
Your mix looks almost identical to what I use. 😁
Well, I guess I use a little perlite mixed in with the turface & DE to prevent clumping.

looking good!
 

cornfed

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Your mix looks almost identical to what I use. 😁
Well, I guess I use a little perlite mixed in with the turface & DE to prevent clumping.
That makes me feel better! After getting into the Soil Wars a bit, I was very nervous about what to use. This thread has helped a lot so at least I am making educated decisions instead of just guessing. But still... you never know until you see it start growing!

Normal soils are not easy to find here. I got 20 lbs of Pumice direct from a quarry, but it cost me $20 +$20 shipping which makes it prohibitive for heavy use. If you asked for Akadama at a store they would say, "God bless you," and the only Scoria around here is for landscaping and would have to be crushed with a hammer and then sifted. Too much work!
 

Eckhoffw

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Scoria around here is for landscaping and would have to be crushed with a hammer and then sifted. Too much work!
Haha! From experience, don’t do this!
-yep sledge hammer over tarp-
If your time is worth anything this method is very expensive!
 

cornfed

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Update on this tree today.

For a long time it didn't really push much growth other than the initial leaves, and those remained curled. I started fertilizing weekly 20-20-20 synthetic in mid-May. In July it started pushing out pretty massive growth, and 90% of it came off of those four branches at the base, not the central leader. I really think @Woocash is right, the move is to remove the central leader at some point and make a gnarly clump.

IMG_7025.JPGIMG_7027.JPG

Above is what the tree looked like today. Below is what I did to it. I didn't take the central leader all the way down, because I think it still has work to do thickening up the base. But I did cut it back to a small cluster of branches/leaves.

In one of my first attempts at wiring, I grabbed the thickest gauge I have and brought the branches down horizontally. The thickness of the branches made that task difficult, so I enlisted the help of some copper wire from Menards to guy it down. Then I noticed I might be hurting the bark so I slipped a piece of cardstock under the wire.

IMG_7032.JPG
 

SevenOaks

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Looking at your latest post, @cornfed, I was wondering what you would do with all the stems sprouting up there in the first photo. I have the same situation on my Roburs. And I think I'll try something along your lines too next year (they're in their first growing season).
 

cornfed

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I'm new like you, so I'm kind of fumbling around. I got my inspiration to do this from another post by @LittleDingus.

Post in thread 'I like the way this experimental chop grew back' https://www.bonsainut.com/threads/i-like-the-way-this-experimental-chop-grew-back.50744/post-875932

But almost immediately after pruning some trees yesterday I started to second guess the timing of it all. 46 days until fall, maybe I should have left those food factories on the tree and not asked it to grow more.

But then again, that's the whole point of my "cornfed edition" threads. Records and learning from mistakes.
 

Woocash

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Update on this tree today.

For a long time it didn't really push much growth other than the initial leaves, and those remained curled. I started fertilizing weekly 20-20-20 synthetic in mid-May. In July it started pushing out pretty massive growth, and 90% of it came off of those four branches at the base, not the central leader. I really think @Woocash is right, the move is to remove the central leader at some point and make a gnarly clump.


Above is what the tree looked like today. Below is what I did to it. I didn't take the central leader all the way down, because I think it still has work to do thickening up the base. But I did cut it back to a small cluster of branches/leaves.

In one of my first attempts at wiring, I grabbed the thickest gauge I have and brought the branches down horizontally. The thickness of the branches made that task difficult, so I enlisted the help of some copper wire from Menards to guy it down. Then I noticed I might be hurting the bark so I slipped a piece of cardstock under the wire.

Good choice! Just wondering, mind you, what is your vision for a future image? I ask because those two thicker trunks are quite splayed in opposite directions and the beginnings look a bit odd IMO. I would have been more inclined to keep the trunks closer together, more up right like they started, but with movement in them. Or even moving together off to one side in the same sort of direction, almost mirroring each other. That’s just me though. Like I said, it depends on your vision.
 

cornfed

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This is kind of my inspiration.

232853_f9970398df530f837ee7e37e4f9a9215-jpg.384798


But I don't disagree with you about it looking a bit odd as it is. I imagine I will eventually prune those branches much closer to the trunk and hope for new growth near the prune mark. I might want to cut some of the growth off the two larger branches to allow the other two, smaller branches to thicken up.

I am kind of fumbling my way through it, though. I don't expect anything I have to look truly beautiful ever, they're more like practicing for future trees that will hopefully look cool.
 

Wulfskaar

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I have very similar inspiration for my oaks. I think it's going to be really cool and I can't wait to see where you take it!
 

Woocash

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Ah right ok, nice. In that case you could still use the central leader by cutting it down to the node above the crown and trying to get more branches to sprout from there as well which might help with future taper, when you’re ready of course.
 

cornfed

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That's exactly what I'm thinking. I'll chop the central leader down eventually, but not all the way.
 
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