Hard woods

maintaining good aeration around it. The surface layers of the soil, that is about the top 2 in, have most air in them. Thus ideally a cutting should be planted within these layers.

However, a cutting planted 2 in deep with about 1 in exposed above ground will be too short for survival: the cutting will dry out too easily; it will be too short to anchor rigidly; and it will be too small to contain sufficient food reserves to support it through the dormant season. Thus the length must be increased to take account of these factors, and 6 in is a satisfactory compromise for a hardwood cutting.

Propagating a hardwood cutting

Prune the parent plant rigorously during the dormant season to encourage fast-growing stems.

At "leaf-fall" cut a hardwood stem with all the current year's growth, using a pair of secateurs. Cut it flush with the parent stem to avoid snags. Make a sloping cut as close as possible above the proposed top bud, remembering that the bottom part of the cutting has the greatest rooting capacity. Make a horizontal cut exactly 6 in below the top cut ignoring the position of any buds.

Treat only the cut base of the cutting, and not the stem, with a rooting hormone powder. The hardwood strength is 0.8 per cent iba. If suitable stems are made into cuttings at the correct season then the rooting hormone will have little affect except with plants that are difficult to root.

Bundle the cuttings made at "leaf-fall" into quantities of ten, or twelve and heel them into a sand-box, almost to their full depth; label, and leave for the rest of the winter. Alternatively, they can be planted directly into well-cultivated soil.

Easily rooted plants will readily survive in the open ground, whereas less easily rooted plants will benefit from the increased tem-

7 Heel in some bundles of cuttings in a sand-box and label them.

8 Dig the soil very well just before bud-break. Make a furrow 5 in deep.

9 Lift the cuttings. Plant them vertically in the trench 4-6 in apart.

perature and less fluctuating environment of a cold frame.

Just before the dormant buds break in spring, dig the propagation bed thoroughly. Make a furrow 5 in deep with a spade. Lift the cuttings from the sand-box and plant them vertically in the furrow. Allow 4-6 in between cuttings; leave 12-15 in between rows in the Open ground and only 4 in between rows in a cold frame. Firm back the soil, leaving about 1 in of the cuttings exposed. Label each row.

Open-ground cuttings may need re-firming if lifted by frost. Leave the cuttings in situ for the growing season. In autumn, lift the rooted cuttings, each of which will have produced several stems, and transplant them to their final situations in the garden.

Protect cuttings planted in a cold frame' only until they have developed some roots and then harden off. It becomes increasingly difficult to harden them off as the growing season progresses.

SINGLE STEMS

lo grow a single-stemmed plant, tor example a tree, rather than one with several stems, encourage only the top bud to develop on the cutting. Plant the cutting vertically in the soil so that the tip is just covered. This will inhibit the development of the lower buds and so produce a single stem.

10 Firm back the soil, leaving about 1 in of the cuttings exposed. Label.

11 Re-firm the cuttings if they are lifted by frost.

12 Lift the rooted cuttings in the following autumn. Transplant and label them.

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