This week we (I) have been transplanting trees. Our hybrid poplars are ready to bud out again!
Remember we ordered cuttings and we put them in this cinder block craziness? The cinder block worked really well for keeping the hybrid poplar trees moist during last summer. The bottom of the area is lined with plastic to help hold the excess water from the sprinklers, and the cement was able to absorb water for the trees. The trees had great root systems! But, it's time to move them to a bigger pot so they can grow some more. (There is a whole other story about getting pots from the Hydroponics store, but you'll have to ask Ryan. It involves lots of signs in the store saying "Don't talk about pot!" and gang type people in there, and Ryan with his cell phone ringing with the tune "Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do? Whatcha gonna do when they come for you?" from the show COPS.)
The tools: A chisel to help get the block apart, a jig that Ryan made, and a dead-blow hammer. Not pictured: Band-Aid brand flexible knuckle bandages. Those are very important for keeping dirt out of bloody knuckles. So the process, which I couldn't take pictures of, because I'm doing the work... is that you get the cinder block you want to work on, separate the roots on the bottom, and then put the block on top of the wooden jig that Ryan made. Then you get to beat the heck out of the block with the dead-blow hammer, loosening the dirt from the sides. Then you tip the block over, and carefully slide the whole rectangle of dirt-roots-tree out and put it in the new pot. Most come out fairly easily, and others you need to use the chisel to loosen the roots from the sides.
I put the reccommended dosage of Osmacote slow release fertilizer in the dirt before I put the cube o' dirt in there. Then, I filled it up, and hefted it to our new area of trees. As of right this minute, I have done about 115 trees. I'm on my last set of 50. We decided not to transplant the black willows and to concentrate on the faster growing and shadier hybrid poplars.
We are using the black plastic on the bottom again to catch excess water. In talking about getting a new batch, we are thinking we will skip the cinder block this time, and just put them in a size 5 pot. This is based on the fact that two trees broke through the plastic and their roots got into the ground. These two trees were the biggest by far. We can't put the cuttings or baby trees straight into the dirt because of our rodent problem. The trees need on more year being babied, then we'll put them in the ground with a drip system. We are going to order another 100 trees. This will yield at least 80-90 trees. Some just don't make it, for whatever reason. We order the cuttings from hybridpoplars.com.