Now or Never... yamadori

dfcloud

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Hi Everyone. My first post on a great forum! Here's my situation.

My parents are selling rural property in Colorado. There is some excellent material I've been planning on digging for some time, but now there is a contract on the place set to go through the first of February. My folks said I can dig whatever I want to keep for my collection but after this month I won't be able to dig anything as the property will have new owners. My folks are not going to add a clause to the contract allowing me back in spring to collect so I feel my only option is now. The trees are mostly pinon pine and juniper, all around 7000+ ft.

What do you all think about this? If i do collect them, should I transplant to training pot? Regular bonsai soil or more of a peat/potting mix? When should I prune unwanted branches???

Any advice is welcome and appreciated. I will post some pics the next time I get out to their property.

Cloud
 

Attila Soos

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I've been collecting junipers and pines in December, but that was here in So. California.

An important question is: are you going to allow the soil of the freshly collected trees to freeze, during the coming winter? If not (meaning that you keep them protected),then they probably have a decent chance of survival - provided that you have some experience digging wild trees. If you don't, then may be you should seek some assistance from an experienced person.
 
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tanlu

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Go for it.

Yamadori, in my opinion, make the coolest bonsai.

I'm not experienced in collecting, but from what I've read and heard from the experienced, now isn't a good time to collect since the frosts have already set in. This of course is depending on where you are. I live in NY and I've been eyeing a few larches in a local forest, but I'm waiting until mid March so the roots have time to grow and the tree will more easily adapt to its new environment.

If you can get ALL THE ROOTS of the tree completely intact then you have a chance.

Good luck~

T
 

mrchips1952

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Yamadori

Cloud...where are you located in Colorado? I am in Colorado Springs and would love to dig some Yamadori with compensation to you of course. Dave - Colorado Springs
 

JasonG

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Hi Everyone. My first post on a great forum! Here's my situation.

My parents are selling rural property in Colorado. There is some excellent material I've been planning on digging for some time, but now there is a contract on the place set to go through the first of February. My folks said I can dig whatever I want to keep for my collection but after this month I won't be able to dig anything as the property will have new owners. My folks are not going to add a clause to the contract allowing me back in spring to collect so I feel my only option is now. The trees are mostly pinon pine and juniper, all around 7000+ ft.

What do you all think about this? If i do collect them, should I transplant to training pot? Regular bonsai soil or more of a peat/potting mix? When should I prune unwanted branches???

Any advice is welcome and appreciated. I will post some pics the next time I get out to their property.

Cloud


Yes, now is a great time to collect. Are these in the granite or dirt? If they are in the granite then you have a great shot at getting all the roots, but if not make sure you get as much as you can. Put them into containers, or build wooden boxes to fit the irregular shaped root pads. Put them on the ground and call it good. If they come out with good roots then freezing won't be an issue, if they have less than ideal roots then you might think about protecting them. But that is a case by case basis.

Good luck!
 

rockm

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Listen to Jason. He's got a lot of experience digging yamadori out that way.

"If you can get ALL THE ROOTS of the tree completely intact then you have a chance."

Weeelll, you have a BETTER chance than no roots. There are many things to consider with collected trees. Providing proper caring for the tree in the year or two after it's collected is probably more critical than getting all the roots, for instance.
 

jk_lewis

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The property is in Colorado. Is that where you live, too? If you don't have to transport the trees too far, and if the climate at your home is about the same (or warmer) now would be an OK time, assuming you put them straight back into the ground. If you live more than 2-3 hours away, however, it could get more iffy.

Also, how experienced a digger of trees are you?
 

dfcloud

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Thanks for the help everyone.
Attila- I'll keep them from freezing through to the roots, although a couple weeks ago we had a cold spell that lasted a few days. -6 F was the low. I had to put down some heating pads designed for germinating seeds under my trees.

Dave- I'm on the western slope about 5 hours from C.S. There are some nice areas just to the west of you.

Jason- "granite or dirt". They're in some really nasty compacted clay soil. It forms chunks that are heavy enough to tear off any feeder roots that are compacted in. While trying to free the roots by breaking up these dense masses of clay, many roots often tear off. So i would say they have less than ideal roots. Do you think it best to pot them up with a free draining large particle mix or go with a peat moss potting soil?

Does anyone recommend a special tool for yamadori? Maybe one suited to clay soils. I've always used just a shovel to collect in the past.

cloud
 

rockm

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I haven't collected in the far west, but have collected in the Middle Atlantic and East Texas. I've found that shovels are of very little use in collecting trees in clay and "sugar sand" soils. Shovels are simply too ungainly for the job. They wreck more than they preserve rootwise.

I dig deciduous trees, so my job is a bit easier than yours. I tend to work with hand tools (hand trowel, brush saw, loppers, pruners and a six foot Iron prybar) starting about six inches out from the trunk of a tree. I work my way around the base of the tree, pushing the hand trowel eight or nine inches deep to find primary roots. When I find one, I dig IT up, not the entire root mass. I do that until I've found eight to a dozen decent roots. Then, I excavate under the tree, insert the prybary and pry the tree out. This mostly bareroots the tree--which is not a good thing for conifers.

My collection methods, again are for deciduous trees. Conifers take a different approach. I just chimed in to note that the "instructions" in bonsai books about shoveling trenches and such is BS. In the field, things never go that way. There are much better alternatives to a shovel.
 

Attila Soos

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When I collect California Junipers in the winter, I do dig a trench around the trunk, provided that the tree grows in a homogenous mass of soil. Of course, if the tree grows in a rocky pocket, then the trench is out of question, and you have to figure out the shape of the pocket.

The purpose of the trench is to lift the ball of roots, without any disturbance, after detaching it from the base with a crowbar. This ball can be extremely heavy, since the roots are enveloped in a solid mas of clay. Once the tree is out, I carefully and slowly reduce the ball of soil to the maximum size that I can carry on my back, depending on how far my truck is. Then, when I arrive home, I put the whole ball in a tub of water, so that the soil can be removed by soaking, without any damage to the fine roots.

With pines (or cypress) though, it is a slightly different story, since I would not remove the entire native soil, even by soaking. I would leave a medium-sized (large enough to hold at least half of the roots) ball in the middle, with the old soil, and plant the tree in 100% pumice. That's because pines hate bare-rooting, even if there is no damage to the fine roots. The 100% pumice or lava rock ensures that the old soil in the middle will not cause root-rot.
Then, depending on how fast the tree recovers in the following years, I would gradually reduce the size of the core native soil and and replace it with bonsai mix.
This is a very conservative approach, but I never ever lost a tree this way. Also, post-care is just as important, I use a tent during this period.
 
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dfcloud

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I am going to try a planting spade/shovel next time I dig.

 

Attila Soos

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I am going to try a planting spade/shovel next time I dig.


I usually use a pick-ax to losen the dirt, and then a narrow spade to remove it from the trench. But often the trench is so narrow and deep that I just use my hands (wearing gloves) to scoop out the dirt. Whe the soil is full of rocks, the shovel has very limited use, but the pick-ax does the job.
 

Dan

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I don't think you will have a lick of fun with that shovel the blade is too long it doesn't allow for your weight to be put on it unless your 7' somthing(LOL) I was a landscaper in Boulder and know the soil is thick and hard if its dry. As a landscaper we did irrigation and used a trenching machine, but when we couldn't get to a spot the corona 3"or 4" trenching shovel is my fave for hard clay or soft clay it is a narrow blade 3-4" wide but that size allows you the ability to 'scoop' the soil to about half the 8-10" length instead of the fun way with a spade that nets you 2-3". Sharpen to cut roots (if you hit any) cleanly. You do have to understand that to work the shovel you have to stand on the top of the S shaped head and rock it forwards and back it will allow the blade to slide past small rocks and work its way deep into the earth. You can trench it by turning the S (where your heel or side of your foot) is to the tree then cut straight down. Do the same on the outside trench except turn the shovel around. then dig out te 3-4" wide trench instead of a 8-9" one. A pick fits in that trench too. Dig the trench out in 4-5" increments to allow good prying. the handle is at an angle to the head and so allows for beautiful prybar action. I used the ones with wooden handles and didn't have any break but the plastic ones are fine too. I did have occassion to plant your variety of tree that were plucked out by a spade truck and nearly all failed so take these folks a their word and get most of the roots. Happy digging!
 
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Brian Van Fleet

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I usually use a pick-ax to losen the dirt, and then a narrow spade to remove it from the trench. But often the trench is so narrow and deep that I just use my hands (wearing gloves) to scoop out the dirt. Whe the soil is full of rocks, the shovel has very limited use, but the pick-ax does the job.

Great point Attila...don't bother with that shovel if you're in the mountains...you'll haul it all over the place and never use it. Get a pry-bar, pick-axe, and a hand trowel. Most anything worth collecting won't be in soil you can dig at with the shovel, it will be captured in a small depression in a rocky face.
 

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