I think you know what you are doing here... :)
By yoderj@cox.net
#341682
I started a cabin fever project several years ago trying to start Dunstan chestnut trees from nuts indoors under lights. I've learn a lot over the last few years about growing trees. I'd just thought I'd list some of my project for this winter.

I started with more Dunstan chestnuts. Here is a picture of those

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I'm also have a few Allegheny Chinquapin and Dwarf Chinquapin Oaks going.

I seem to be having some difficulty germinating them, but I also trying some hazelnut. Here is a picture of my first one to germinate and show top growth:

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I have pear seed cold stratifying in the fridge but that won't be ready until March.

Another project I've been working on is a kiln to make biochar for the trees:

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My first batch of biochar:

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Winter can be fun and contribute to your habitat even when the weather limits outdoor activity.

Thanks,

Jack
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By clarkengelman
#341684
They look nice and healthy. I never had any luck with acorn to tree growth. Any pointers you can give?
By yoderj@cox.net
#341685
They look nice and healthy. I never had any luck with acorn to tree growth. Any pointers you can give?


Sure. The first place to start is containers. Trees typically grow long tap roots quickly. In regular containers, the tap root will circle or j-hook. The tree may look OK, but eventually root constriction will occur. So, if you are going to start trees from nuts in the winter like I do, you need specialized root pruning containers. This is not a single container, but a series of root pruning containers are required. Not only does this deal with circling and tap root issues, but it produces a very dense root system. The brand I use is Rootmaker. They were created by the guy who did much of the research on air pruning roots, Dr. Carl Whitcomb. There are now a number of competing brands that have different levels of effectiveness. Whatever brand you buy, read some Dr. Whitcomb's papers and make sure the containers you get support the underlying principles of an air pruning system.

The Dunstan chestnuts you see in the picture are in 18 cell Express Trays. These tiny cells air prune the tap root at about 4" causing early upstream secondary and tertiary root branching. These trees should stay in this size container for 12-16 weeks and are then transplanted to a larger size container. I like1 gal Rootbuilder II for the second stage.

You also need a well drained professional mix to grow trees. It needs to have a chunkiness to it. You don't want a mix like miracle grow that is designed to retain water. I've used both Promix Bx and Fafard 3B with good success.

Once you have containers identified, it is time to look at the specific nut or seed. Some oaks like all chestnuts require a period of cold stratification before planting. Other kinds of oaks do not and can germinate immediately.

Chestnuts require a period of 60 to 90 days of cold stratification. They are high in carbs and susceptible to mold as are some kinds of oak. It is best to get your nuts directly from the tree or immediately after they fall. They can quickly pick up mold spores if left on the ground. I first wash the nuts under running water to remove anything I can. Next, I hydrate them by putting them in a bowl of water for several hours or even over night. Any nut that floats is bad, discard it. I then separate the rest of the nuts into groups of 10 to 20. I put each group in a ziplock bag. They need moisture to stratify, but too much moisture encourages mold. I like to add a damp medium to the bag. I prefer long-fiber sphagnum. This has anti-fungal properties that helps keep mold at bay. It also holds water. I take a handful of it and soak it in water. I then squeeze as much water as I can by making a fist. I place the long-fiber sphagnum in with the nuts. I zip the bag half way closed and fold it in half. I place it in the vegetable crisper for whatever duration of cold stratification the particular nut requires.

The next issue most folks have is water. Avoid city water unless you have had a chemical analysis done and you really know what you are doing. The best thing you can do is collect rain water and use it. In the winter, I shovel snow into 5 gal buckets and bring it indoors and let it melt. Even more important is how frequently to water. You don't water these on a schedule or with a fixe amount of water like normal containers. These are extremely well drained. You soak them. You keep applying water until it is running out of the bottom holes of the cell or the lower side holes of the larger Rootbuilder II containers. You can't give them too much water, but you can give it to them too frequently. They need to dry out between watering. The best way to water is by weight. The container will be heavy when it is first watered and get light when it needs watering. If you ever see the leaves droop, you have probably gone a little too long without watering. The trees are trying to reduce transpiration. Water them ASAP.

The final thing is fertilizer. I won't use anything but Osmocote as a fertilizer when they are in the little cells. It is too easy to burn plants with direct fertilization. Osmocote is a slow release fertilizer that has much less chance of burning them.

Next is light an temperature. You don't need fancy grow lights. The lights I like best are plain old fluorescent shop lights. The important thing with lights is the output in lumens, not the color (temperature in K). Light intensity diminishes with the distance squared. So hot lights that might put out more energy must be kept further from the tree so more light is lost due to the distances. The cool shop lights need to be rigged so you can adjust the height as the trees grow. I like to keep them 2" - 4" above the trees.

You want to keep the temperature between 70 and 80 degrees. It is also best if you can keep a higher humidity but humidity is a second order factor at best.

That is pretty much the big picture. Using this kind of system, with a little luck, here is what you can end up with:

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This Dunstan Chestnut tree was started under lights last winter. I transplanted it from an 18 to a 1 gal RB2 to a 3 gal RB2 in one growing season. This picture was taken on October 1st 2015 when I planted it in the field. For reference the tube is 5' tall. The tree is slightly over 6' tall and about 3/4" in caliper. Keep in mind that chestnuts are a pretty fast growing tree so not all kinds of trees will grow quite this quickly but it give you an idea of what is possible.

Thanks,

Jack
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By LibbyLA
#341686
That is some really useful information. Thanks for taking the time to share it.
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By bobcat
#341688
You put a lot of work into that and I hope it pays off for you. I put out 50 Sawtooth Oaks about 15 years ago and only 7 have made it. Those are now about 30 feet tall but still not producing any nuts! They were suppose to have acorns within 7-10 years.
By yoderj@cox.net
#341689
Ross and Libby,

Most of my habitat posts with more detail and discussion is over on the QDMA habitat forms. CG went to the trouble of creating a forum for habitat at user requests. I generally watch it but don't often post. I noticed that it hadn't been used for a while so I figured I'd start a thread.

Bobcat,

Your efforts won't go to waste. Most times you see a time frame for bearing fruit, it is under the best of conditions and that is rarely the case. We planted some Kieffer pear trees years ago. Vegetatively, they have done extremely well. They grew like weed and are as thick as my forearm and closing in on 20 feet tall. Still no pears.

One of my other projects not listed above is an experiment with Jujube for deer. I planted some bare root tigertooth jujube trees years ago in the field. They have done well growing but not as fast as the pears. They still have not produced any fruit in the field. The reason I bought tigertooth is that it was a good variety for deer and it was the only one I could find grown on their own roots. Most Jujube are grafted to wild or "sour" jujube root stock. They tend to produce root sprouts up to 20' from the tree and thicket. Since the new trees are coming from the wild rootstock, they don't produce quality fruit like the parent tree. With Tigertooth grown on their own roots, even if I can't keep the area mowed in the long run, if they do produce root suckers and thicket, at least the thicket will all be tigertooth trees producing quality fruit.

These are not true to seed, so to get more tigertooth, you need some kind of clonal propagation. The method that I found that works best is to propagate root cuttings. It is slow, but it does work. So, the first year I took some root cuttings, I put them in 1 gal RB2 containers and kept them on my deck for the summer. By the first fall, they were only 2 feet tall but they produced fruit! They were not even 1 year old and the trees in the field were over 5 years old at the time and not producing fruit.

So, I don't take the "how long to produce" numbers advertised as absolute, but more as relative between one species/variety of tree and another.

I also planted sawtooth trees many years ago when they first came out. Unfortunately it was on a lease that I eventually lost, so I don't know how they did. Not far from that lease is a military base that I hunt. I'm also a conservation volunteer there. They planted sawtooth trees that did produce well. They are reliable produces that put out heavy crops every year. The problem is that they all fall in September and are eaten before our archery season begins in October. Because of that, I stopped planting them for attraction.

Recently, I learned that there are different strains of sawtooth oak and that some strains drop their acorns in October and even early November. I have found a nut source from late dropping trees, so eventually I plan to included them in my program.

Thanks,

Jack
By yoderj@cox.net
#341781
My latest project was to build a Worm Casting Tea Brewer to introduce microbes into the biochar. I built a diffuser out of PVC and hooked it up to my air compressor. Here is the first test run:

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Here is a picture of the diffuser itself:

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I drilled small holes on the bottom sides of the PVC pipe. The black marker lines indicated the rows I drilled.

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Thanks,

Jack
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By johnnydeerhunter
#341783
That's a pretty slick idea Jack, how much pressure are you running through the pipe?
By yoderj@cox.net
#341785
It doesn't take much. I'm using my garage compressor with an 8 gal tank that I use for air tools. The normal output pressure is 90psi. I cranked it down to 20 psi for the test and that was probably more than enough for a 5 gal bucket. At these pressures, I didn't even glue the PVC. I built it this way on purpose. If I decided I want to expand, I can re-use all the fittings. I simply pop it all apart and replace the pipe sections with longer ones. I can then use a 32 gal trash can or 50 gal drum or whatever I want. This would mean more holes with longer pipe sections which means more pressure. I would guess 20 psi would be sufficient for these. I may crank it down even more for the 5 gal bucket when I actually brew a batch.
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By bowhtr1
#341789
Where did you get the Dunstan chestnuts for seed? I have 4 white oaks in my yard that I produced from seed but that was by luck. I took a bunch from the woods and brought them home. I put them at the bottom of a pine tree for tree rats. The tree rats didn't eat any and come spring they were growing. I put them in pots for the summer, gave a bunch away and planted 4. They are over 20 ft tall already.
By yoderj@cox.net
#341792
Where did you get the Dunstan chestnuts for seed? I have 4 white oaks in my yard that I produced from seed but that was by luck. I took a bunch from the woods and brought them home. I put them at the bottom of a pine tree for tree rats. The tree rats didn't eat any and come spring they were growing. I put them in pots for the summer, gave a bunch away and planted 4. They are over 20 ft tall already.


The first year I got them from a guy on ebay. Chestnut Hill has the name Dunstan as a trademark and they started cracking down on folks using that name to sell things without paying them. You still see folks doing it on ebay, but the reliable seller I was using stopped. You never really know if they are nuts from Dunstans buying on ebay unless you know and trust the seller.

In recent years, I've been buying my nuts from Chestnut Ridge of Pike County. They don't advertise them under the Dunstan name, but all of the trees in their orchard are Dunstans. You can google them and find the store. They generally harvest in late September and early October and that is when the nuts are available. I then cold stratify them myself. A lot of the folks on the QDMA habit forum use them as a source.

Good Luck,

Jack
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By johnnydeerhunter
#341793
That's good keeping the pressure down and not glueing the pipe together. The holes make weak points and too high a psi and the pipe could explode like a grenade and plastic shrapnel flying everywhere.
By yoderj@cox.net
#341794
That's good keeping the pressure down and not glueing the pipe together. The holes make weak points and too high a psi and the pipe could explode like a grenade and plastic shrapnel flying everywhere.


Schedule 40 PVC is rated for much higher pressures than my compressor could ever produce. Some folks build these with the thin walled PVC. I tend to over-engineer things.

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