Question about field growing.

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Question about field growing.

Post  Mr. Carter on Thu May 31, 2012 11:52 pm

I'm planning on buying a Japanese maple from, Lowes or Home Depot, whichever, and I'm sure the tree that will be in my budget will just be a small tree in a one gallon pot. I'd guess it'd be maybe two or three years old, and the ones I've seen look about 36ish inches tall, from the top of the soil. So I'd like to just let it grow, for a few years and then once the trunk looks good, start to work on it. But I'm nit exactly sure how to go about doing it. First, do I just let it grow tall and any way it wants, then chop the trunk once I'm ready, or is there a technique to keep it shorter while I let the trunk fill out? What I'm thinking is if I just let it grow tall then chop it, I'll basically just be hoping for good results, like where the new branches end up. But if there's was a way to keep it shorter, and keep the branches lower, then I'd much rather do that. Also would it be less of a hassle to put it in a really big pot, and let it grow out, or should I let it grow in the ground? If I put it in a huge pot, then I'd would at least know that I could get the whole root ball when it comes time to repot. Or does that defeat the whole purpose of "field growing" something? Any help on this will be greatly appreciated.

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Question about field growing

Post  0soyoung on Fri Jun 01, 2012 12:10 am

I suggest you read the Articles at Evergreen Gardenworks - in particular, 'Trunks, developing', 'Soil: Why the earth is not like a pot', and 'Growth Principles'. There is much more there well worth reading and re-reading.

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Re: Question about field growing.

Post  Dave Murphy on Fri Jun 01, 2012 12:25 am

Most Acer palmatum cultivars available at big box stores will be grafted, sometimes on a standard. All this means is that it might be difficult to find material there that is worth growing out to work with down the road.

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Re: Question about field growing.

Post  Mr. Carter on Fri Jun 01, 2012 12:42 am

Thanks for that link. That definitely clears the trunk chop up for me. So would it not be a good idea to get something from a box store to practice on? I was thinking that chopping trunks was a big procedure, and it'd be better to chop up some cheaper stuff before I go chopping on expensive trees.

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Re: Question about field growing.

Post  JimLewis on Fri Jun 01, 2012 12:27 pm

My opinion ONLY, but I think it is usually fruitless to look for Anything bonsaiable in the Big Box stores.

That said, it's even cheaper to practice on something you've dug from the yard.

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Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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Re: Question about field growing.

Post  Mr. Carter on Fri Jun 01, 2012 4:54 pm

Trust me, I've been looking all over for stuff to dig up and turn into bonsai. Here's my situation though, I live in an apartment, so I just go to my dads house to work on stuff,(so I can't really just dig stuff out of his yard) and I leave the trees that I have there. I only have a few, but so far they are all from a box store. I know it's not the best place to get material, but when I first got the itch to do bonsai, I couldn't wait to get started so I went and bought some stuff from lowes. It gives me and my dad something to do together too. I want to go on a hike/tree hunt with him sometime. Jim, you live in NC, and that's somewhat close to Ga temperatures. What's the best time to go collect?

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Re: Question about field growing.

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Fri Jun 01, 2012 5:31 pm

On the subject of collecting. Remember that you must have permission from the landowner to collect. You can't just walk in the woods looking for a good subject. Even or especially on state or Federal property permission is needed. There is also some skill and responsibility involved in collecting. You should have a reasonable chance of keeping what you collect alive.
There are a couple of Bonsai nurseries in Georgia, especially The Monastery in Conyers, near Atlanta. Look for clubs near you, member often have extra plants.

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Re: Question about field growing.

Post  JimLewis on Fri Jun 01, 2012 8:16 pm

Best collecting in Ga and NC is from November to March.

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Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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Re: Question about field growing.

Post  Mr. Carter on Fri Jun 01, 2012 9:34 pm

Oh wow, so I have a good while to wait. Thanks.

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Re: Question about field growing.

Post  Dave Murphy on Sat Jun 02, 2012 12:01 am

Mr. Carter wrote:Oh wow, so I have a good while to wait. Thanks.
...but now would be a good time to start looking for trees you might want to collect over the winter.

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Re: Question about field growing.

Post  Mr. Carter on Sat Jun 02, 2012 12:25 am

Good point! So is there a strategy to this? Do you mark the tree? Make a treasure map?

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Re: Question about field growing.

Post  lordy on Sun Jun 03, 2012 12:29 pm

Look for construction sites that are soon to be bulldozed, etc. Sometimes you can get permission to dig before the work starts. Then you must just get it when it's available rather than wait til the best time for the tree (dormant period). PLENTY of great material has been had that way.

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Re: Question about field growing.

Post  JimLewis on Sun Jun 03, 2012 2:07 pm

The problem with rescue sites is that some people get all soft hearted and just dig. The criteria for digging urbanadori is the same as for yamadori -- only take tress that have promise to make decent bonsai.

That means strong roots (especially surface roots), a trunk with some character (most importantly some taper to it) such as mature bark, appropriately placed lower branches, and naturally smallish leaves. And, before you start digging you really should learn something about tree ID, and tree physiology.

_________________
Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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Re: Question about field growing.

Post  Mr. Carter on Sun Jun 03, 2012 2:39 pm

Thanks for all the help. I have a few friends that have places that would be great for a tree hunt, like one friend that owns a hunting club. I'm also sure that when the time comes, I can get permission from them. Ideally, I'd like to have my hands in a little bit if everything, for example: a few trees "field growing", a few trees that I've collected, a few from nurseries, and maybe even a few from seed or cuttings. Because right now all I have are a few from a nursery, which are all pruned and wired, so I don't have anything to really work on. I'm sure people who have been doing this for a while have some kind of system worked out, so that at anytime, if they feel like working on bonsai they can. Any insight in this would be good for me, because as of right now, I have all this free time, and nothing to really do with it.

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Re: Question about field growing.

Post  crust on Sun Jun 03, 2012 3:55 pm

Due to the innumerable variables of your place and time you will find no real systems--just what people do. Here is a few things I have noticed about field growing and field growers.
* Most home growers don't develop good roots, have awkward taper due to untimely hack backs, generally loose control of plants.
* If your starting with small stock it can be useful to first ramify the roots in a container for a few years then root prune and plant out
*dig up and root prune frequently
*grow trunks--with good roots or don't bother
*start with rough aggressive work moving successively to finer work over time--don't just hack everything
* use sacrificial branches
* hack back multiple times--do it well
* have a raised bed with good soil and fertilize
* don't be afraid to do some branch training and grafting in ground
* grow the best species--no junk
* grow what works and you like
* starting with quality, well rooted small stock is usually the best plan--collected stumps will always find their way in though.

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Re: Question about field growing.

Post  Dave Murphy on Sun Jun 03, 2012 8:12 pm

Great post, Crust.

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Re: Question about field growing.

Post  Mr. Carter on Sun Jun 03, 2012 9:03 pm

Thanks for all the info. Crust, I have a few questions though. What do you mean by small stock? Is that meaning plants that are fairly young? Also, having a raised bed...that's basically a bed framed with wood? Would it be better to have one for each plant, or a large one for multiple plants?

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Re: Question about field growing.

Post  crust on Sun Jun 03, 2012 10:45 pm

I think raised beds are the best but they can be surrounded by anything (i.e. rocks. keystone. ties or just mounded up).
Small stock would be 3 year Scots pine seedlings, bare root deciduous trees. My experience with nursery stock in 1 gallon conatiners is that you have to bare root it and trim the roots before replanting. Small starter material from bonsai nurseries like Evergreen Gardenworks is perfect, or genetic material from Mehanns or Forest Farms or even Mussers is good.

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Re: Question about field growing.

Post  Mr. Carter on Sun Jun 03, 2012 11:19 pm

A raised bed sounds like a cool little project, and also something to do with this free time. So should it be a large bed for a few trees or a few smaller ones for single trees. Also, how big should they be? Or better yet, does anyone know about something I can read, that might give me a few ideas on how to build one?

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Re: Question about field growing.

Post  crust on Sun Jun 03, 2012 11:38 pm

I make mine so I can reach the middle from both sides. 4 feet is about max for me. I made them 12 feet long with paths between wide enough for a wheel barrow. I have some made from 8 inch cement blocks capped with 4 inch solid blocks. I started with a flat area, used string and stakes and a square and measurements of the units to lay it out. I set a block on each corner and then used a long straight 2x4 and a level and adjusted by digging them in a bit. I used the string and placed them end to end gluing them with construction adhesive. I filled them with loose stones then capped them with the 4 inch solids laid flat with more glue. I did this because I had the material. Retaining wall blocks would be easier and look better. My .40 treated tie ones all rotted out in 10 years so I quit using them. .60 treated 6x6 work good though. I found that being 12 inches high is minimum and 16 is better. Add lots of compost and amenities to the fill soil and break up the ground good before you start filling. Google has lots on this kind of stuff.

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Re: Question about field growing.

Post  lordy on Sun Jun 03, 2012 11:44 pm

You could use 2x12 pressure treated lumber from HD or Lowes. make them as big as you have trees to fill. allow maybe 2'x2' per tree. Much bigger than that and you will have to cut a lot of roots to fit into a grow box (next step). fill with topsoil and amend with compost. then step back: the plants will grow so quickly you might get hit in the chin. Razz


Last edited by lordy on Mon Jun 04, 2012 12:35 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Question about field growing.

Post  Mr. Carter on Mon Jun 04, 2012 12:17 am

I'm excited about this project now! So combining the info from both of you, if I made it 12' long and 4' wide, I'd be able to fit up to 12 trees in there. That sounds like plenty for now. I build things for a living, so I don't doubt that I could ace this one, I was more asking about the dimensions, and if I should actually dig into the ground also too...which you answered that for me also. About how far down should I break the ground soil? Also you mentioned that a grow box is the next step...why and when would I move it to the grow box? Man, you guys have already helped and inspired me so much, that if you helped anymore, you'd be building this thing for me. Thanks again.

Michael

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Re: Question about field growing.

Post  coh on Mon Jun 04, 2012 12:39 am

Mr. Carter wrote:...I'd be able to fit up to 12 trees in there. That sounds like plenty for now.
Yeah, that'll work - for the first year!

Mr. Carter wrote:Also you mentioned that a grow box is the next step...why and when would I move it to the grow box?
Michael
A grow box is the intermediate step between field growing and a bonsai pot. Usually it's not possible (nor desirable) to dig a plant out of the ground and plant it right into a small bonsai pot. The root system requires gradual reduction over a period of years. So you would dig it up, prune off a "reasonable" amount of roots, and plant it in an appropriately sized grow box. After a few years you'd repeat the step, reducing more of the roots and planting it into the next smaller size...repeating until you eventually had it in the desired bonsai pot. During this process you develop a compact, fibrous root system. You'd also be training the branches during this time...the grow box will result in slower, more controlled growth than you can get in the ground.

Grow boxes can be made out of many materials...plastic bins of various types (add drainage holes of course), and you can sometimes find plastic training pots that are the right size. Many people make their own out of wood, this allows you to create the exact size you need for a particular plant. This is what I've been doing.

I couldn't find much on this site about grow boxes, but you'll find plenty of info on google (search "bonsai grow box"). For instance...Grow boxes and training pots

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Re: Question about field growing.

Post  lordy on Mon Jun 04, 2012 12:47 am

I wouldn't bother digging at all. If you did that, you wouldnt need the 2x6 or 8 or 10 or 12 box. On second thought, I would use 2x6 and not dig below. The harder earth might help serve as a tile onto which the roots will bounce off and grow laterally, so as to better fit into a bonsai pot later in life.

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Re: Question about field growing.

Post  Mr. Carter on Mon Jun 04, 2012 12:59 am

Okay, so that's only after I feel like my trunk is the size I want. Makes sense. You guys have been more than helpful, and once again, thanks.

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Re: Question about field growing.

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