Spruce #2

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Found this shortly after digging Spruce #1 I pulled it up like a carrot using brute strength. It took all of 30 seconds. It went into a box last spring that promptly rotted. Today, I planted it into a concrete mixing tub to develop for a few years. I shortened only two extremely long roots that had been wrapped around the bottom of the old box. The remaining roots just barely fit into the tub. It grew pretty well last year, and should continue to do so again this year.

Dave
 

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I know it's not that important that our grow boxes last that long, but if you use cedar fence planks (easy to find 1 x 4 & 1 x 6) your boxes won't be rotting so quickly. I find I can use the cedar boxes for more than one tree--that is, they hold up long enough to use a second or even third time ;)
 

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My buddy had left over scraps that he wanted to use, and he was excited about everything so I let him have at it. Concrete mixing tubs were $5 a piece. I'll keep the tip in mind, because I like the look of the wooden box for training. Thanks. Greg, I'm still exited to have seen your big cascade pine in person. Glad you sent it for the trip, and hope it is happy and healthy.

Dave
 

evmibo

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When collected trees of this size is it okay to pull it out as you did (if you can)? I was under the impretion that one should dig it up methodically/carefully so roots are not torn, etc. Great looking tree btw, best of luck.
 

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When collected trees of this size is it okay to pull it out as you did (if you can)? I was under the impretion that one should dig it up methodically/carefully so roots are not torn, etc. Great looking tree btw, best of luck.


This was growing in the old railroad gravel bed, so as you can see it pulled up with most the roots and little damage. I imagine you will be hard pressed to find many areas where this is likely. In theory, yes, being careful is good. In practice trying to dig out bigger more established trees can be a royal pain in the @$$! Sometimes you just have to get tough with them. You can always clean up broken roots with sharp tools after you get the tree out.


Dave
 

Bill S

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evmibo he got it this easily partly due to it growing in basically gravel(big gravel) probably with some roots in the soil just below that, but probably not much. The RR looks to be unused based on rust on the tracks and these things growing basically on the tracks, but these aren't really old so he was able to get away with it, especially with spruce. Either that or he was worried about the RR people finding him digging up the tracks, which probably qualifies as domestic terrorism;), and got luck they lived, could be a little of both.
 

evmibo

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I just assumed it was soil, being in gravel would make it easier to get out, this now makes sense. Thanks, again - best of luck this is a great looking collection.
 

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evmibo he got it this easily partly due to it growing in basically gravel(big gravel) probably with some roots in the soil just below that, but probably not much. The RR looks to be unused based on rust on the tracks and these things growing basically on the tracks, but these aren't really old so he was able to get away with it, especially with spruce. Either that or he was worried about the RR people finding him digging up the tracks, which probably qualifies as domestic terrorism;), and got luck they lived, could be a little of both.

Bill, You are mostly spot on. However, I disagree on the luck factor. I didn't make it too clear before, but Spruce #1 took me at least two hours, as it was wedged between two railroad ties, as well as the track itself. There were large thick awkward roots to deal with, and it was not an easy process. For this, I wasn't all "willy nilly" like juggling chainsaws or anything, but it certainly isn't something you can meticulously plan either. Sometimes, you need to use some good old fashioned man power.

Neither one of these trees is all that old, and I wanted to clear that up. Also, the water table is not more than a couple feet down from the gravel. There is also nice rich organic material filling the gaps between the larger gravel, so the trees here grow shallow root systems with plenty of feeders. It is almost like a giant bonsai pot. I was fairly certain that these young trees would have no problem surviving the collecting process. For years my mother has been transplanting trees around her camp at all times of the year with good success. I waited till just before bud break.

Hope that clears some things up for those of you who haven't gotten out "into the field."

Also, please do not go out and walk along any railroad tracks. Not only is it dangerous, I'm pretty sure it is illegal. These tracks haven't seen a train for many years. I recall one time seeing a train when I was a young boy, and that is over 20 years ago. They have long been out of service, and run through my family's property. In the late 1800's an iron ore mining town once existed, we pulled handmade nails from the tracks used to indicate the year the track was laid. Some of the oldest were dated '82. I shall try to find some and take a few pictures for those who like that kind of stuff.

Dave
 

Alex DeRuiter

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Picturing you juggling chainsaws and uprooting trees produced an extremely funny image. :D

One question -- well, I guess one question with many parts (is that multiple questions? eh, anyway..) -- Do you have a lot of experience with Spruce trees? I just got a Dwarf Alberta Spruce and I was wondering how well they backbud when they're nice and healthy. This one's got a ton of new chutes (shoots?) and seems to be doing very well in its grow box. I've been doing heavy pruning on my conifers in late winter, but is there a particular time of the year you find is best to do this?

Also, your story is fascinating -- I was actually thinking to myself how hard it would be to construct something "back in the day" when nails were man-made. I'd like to see a picture if you've taken any :)
 
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Axxonn, Sorry I'm learning as I go here with this one. I have found you can cut back as far as you want so long as there is green needles/branchlets left along the remaining branch, and it will bud profusely at the cut sight.

Dave
 

Alex DeRuiter

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No worries, Dave. A little bit if info sometimes goes a long ways :) I'm going to start doing minor pruning to see what I can get to bud back in the summer.

One question about collecting: I noticed in many cases people collect these trees and immediately remove lots of foliage...is this a good idea? I "collected" this tree from the ground of a nursery, so it's not exactly the same; but still I wonder if I could treat this tree similarly.
 

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No worries, Dave. A little bit if info sometimes goes a long ways :) I'm going to start doing minor pruning to see what I can get to bud back in the summer.

One question about collecting: I noticed in many cases people collect these trees and immediately remove lots of foliage...is this a good idea? I "collected" this tree from the ground of a nursery, so it's not exactly the same; but still I wonder if I could treat this tree similarly.

The theory goes that you remove some growth to balance out the diminished and shocked root system. There are those who say this is not a good idea. If you do remove growth make sure not to remove more than one third.
 

Alex DeRuiter

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Thank you Vance :) I've heard that as well, but I don't know who to believe. I can't find the article right now, but I believe Brent Walston said that it may even further shock the tree to remove the foliage in addition to the roots. This (I think) is because the food produced from photosynthesis would help reestablish the root system. Also -- and correct me if I'm wrong -- I would think that if the leaves or needles are fully extended, there's not nearly as much energy being pushed from the roots, so cutting the foliage off would be unnecessary...but is that right?
 

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In my limited experience with collecting, and though the guidance of those who know much more than I, the option I have gone with has been to not remove any foliage unless it is necessary. A misting system is also key. The foliage will continue to transpire after relocation, and if there are not many roots to replentish the supply then the tree will dry out and die. A misting system or other high humidity tricks reduces the transpiration and gives the tree a chance to grow new roots. Just as you said, the foliage will produce energy that will be sent down the tree to regrow roots. If you reduce the foliage greatly there will be less energy produced and the tree will be in limbo even longer. Im no expert, but collecting as many roots as possible, keeping the foliage around, a misting house and patience will improve your odds.
 

Vance Wood

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Thank you Vance :) I've heard that as well, but I don't know who to believe. I can't find the article right now, but I believe Brent Walston said that it may even further shock the tree to remove the foliage in addition to the roots. This (I think) is because the food produced from photosynthesis would help reestablish the root system. Also -- and correct me if I'm wrong -- I would think that if the leaves or needles are fully extended, there's not nearly as much energy being pushed from the roots, so cutting the foliage off would be unnecessary...but is that right?

Here too is the contrary argument. It is possible to leave too much foliage on the tree for the amount of rootage you have left after harvesting causing the roots to burn themselves up trying to support more foliage than they are able. This is why you remove no more than one third of the foliage. Here is another tack on the issue.

It is unnatural for this kind of trauma to occur to the root system therefore the roots tend to go into shock. It is common and natural for the tree to heal wounds to the top of the tree so when the top is cut the roots' natural tendency is to heal the wounds to the top of the tree. This causes circulation to continue. In essence when a tree goes into shock it usually dies because of root rot.

There is a medical parallel to this. It is, as I understand it, a common practice to treat limb reattachments to the human body such as amputated fingers, hands, feet and limbs by placing leaches at the extremities of the injured body part to force blood to flow through those body parts encouraging reattachment and healing.

As to the misting: I heartily agree with this. However you must be careful that you do not get the soil wet except when the soil needs water, which may not be very often at first. This is the real art of collecting; the recovery process.
 
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Alex DeRuiter

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In my limited experience with collecting, and though the guidance of those who know much more than I, the option I have gone with has been to not remove any foliage unless it is necessary. A misting system is also key. The foliage will continue to transpire after relocation, and if there are not many roots to replentish the supply then the tree will dry out and die. A misting system or other high humidity tricks reduces the transpiration and gives the tree a chance to grow new roots. Just as you said, the foliage will produce energy that will be sent down the tree to regrow roots. If you reduce the foliage greatly there will be less energy produced and the tree will be in limbo even longer. Im no expert, but collecting as many roots as possible, keeping the foliage around, a misting house and patience will improve your odds.

Ah-hah! That's what I was missing. Thank you for that, Chris. I forgot about transpiration through the leaves. I remember reading somewhere else that you can apply some certain spray to the leaves to hold the water in, but I forget what it was.


Here too is the contrary argument. It is possible to leave too much foliage on the tree for the amount of rootage you have left after harvesting causing the roots to burn themselves up trying to support more foliage than they are able. This is why you remove no more than one third of the foliage. Here is another tack on the issue.

It is unnatural for this kind of trauma to occur to the root system therefore the roots tend to go into shock. It is common and natural for the tree to heal wounds to the top of the tree so when the top is cut the roots' natural tendency is to heal the wounds to the top of the tree. This causes circulation to continue. In essence when a tree goes into shock it usually dies because of root rot.

There is a medical parallel to this. It is, as I understand it, a common practice to treat limb reattachments to the human body such as amputated fingers, hands, feet and limbs by placing leaches at the extremities of the injured body part to force blood to flow through those body parts encouraging reattachment and healing.

As to the misting: I heartily agree with this. However you must be careful that you do not get the soil wet except when the soil needs water, which may not be very often at first. This is the real art of collecting; the recovery process.

Vance, I'm curious as to what causes the roots to burn. Could it be the drawing up of water to the leaves? What you said about healing wounds to continue circulation makes sense -- are you saying this is actually better for the tree as it is an effort to stabalize it?

I like your analogy of reattaching body parts -- I find the similarities between man and tree to be very interesting.

Thank you all for your tips -- I haven't collected anything yet, but I feel like I have a better grasp on it now.

Sorry to steal the thread, Dave :)
 
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Vance Wood

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Ah-hah! That's what I was missing. Thank you for that, Chris. I forgot about transpiration through the leaves. I remember reading somewhere else that you can apply some certain spray to the leaves to hold the water in, but I forget what it was.




Vance, I'm curious as to what causes the roots to burn. Could it be the drawing up of water to the leaves? What you said about healing wounds to continue circulation makes sense -- are you saying this is actually better for the tree as it is an effort to stabalize it?

I like your analogy of reattaching body parts -- I find the similarities between man and tree to be very interesting.

Thank you all for your tips -- I haven't collected anything yet, but I feel like I have a better grasp on it now.

Sorry to steal the thread, Dave :)

I should have used better terminology, the roots do not actually burn up as much as burn out using up all their reserves. What actually happens is--- they shut down and rot. As far as trying to balance the loss of roots by reducing the top is a theory that has worked for me. It is however a theory, no one knows for sure; there is no way to measure the internal working of a tree's circulatory system. We don't even know for sure how a tree as large as a Redwood can move moisture to the top of the tree because it is physically impossible. No one told the redwood .
 
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Alex DeRuiter

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Ahhh, I see what you're saying now. That paints a more easily understandable picture.

Haha, redwoods do not obey our silly laws of physics...but really, that's amazing.

Thank you for the clarification :)
 
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Vance Wood

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Ahhh, I see what you're saying now. That paints a more easily understandable picture.

Haha, redwoods do now obey our silly laws of physics...but really, that's amazing.

Thank you for the clarification :)

In short it is all theory. One person will have found that one thing worked well for him/her, and another person will swear by another method. I have found that reducing the top BY NO MORE THAN ONE THIRD works well, even the bonsai books will agree to this figure in emergency repotting during the growing season. I have also seen what happens when you reduce the top too much and do not reduce the roots as well. I think it all breaks down to a balance. I have seen Spruce up-rooted in the heat of the summer, left sitting around in 100 degree weather survive with a little top reduction. I have seen Spruce die because they had the top reduced a lot without the roots being reduced as well. What's the truth in all of this? I have no idea. All I can say is based on causality. I did this and that happened etc. I did that and this happened.

It is true, many things in the real world defy our scientific/mathematical understanding of how things are supposed to function. We still do not understand, or can duplicate, the process of photosynthesis, and we don't know why a bumblebee can fly.
 
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