Semi-Hardwood Cuttings

by Jason
(Concord NH )

I am going to be making a great deal of semi-hardwood cuttings this summer out of several tree species (Amur maple, Magnolia's, ect...) and up to now I was just planing on using peat pots and some home made rooting solution (aka - weeping willow branches) and also using some professional products just to test and see if they are worth the money. I would rather use organic over chemical any day.

After reviewing your site and seeing a great deal on aeroponics, I figured it may be worth the time to consider that method. I also don't feel like waiting five years for the trees to be bigger than a twig, so I figured using hydroponics and MH/HPS (for a wide range of the spectrum) would help me to increase their size in less time than planting outdoors and letting them grow naturally. I live in a cross section of zones 4 and 5, and the growing season is short- I may have access to a place that has a temp of 40 - 50 degrees during the winter. I figured I can trick the plants into thinking that they are going through a winter season and then start the growing season all over again.

I will also note that I am starting Japanese wisteria from seed, which can take up to 20 years to flower. I'm too impatient and want to speed up this whole process. Should I go with aeroponics for cloning and growing for this? Should I stick with soil after I root the clones for putting through a false winter?

I am pretty resourceful and may figure something out, I figured you may have some advice about hydroponics/aeroponics that may be of some use to me on my quest.

As a little insight into why I am doing all this. I am in school for Landscape and environmental design, I love plants and trees and have a passion for them. I want to not only design yet also provide the plants in which I design the landscapes for. So I am practicing gardening now to get a head start in both fields. I am a little broke at the moment (college student ;) yet I do have a few bucks set aside for this whole operation and I figured lights are a must!! esp for indoor growing during a winter where it is dark at 4 PM (yeah, and I have SAD so I figured some extra light exposure wouldn't be such a bad idea.)

Any advice, tips, suggestions would be most appreciated! Thank you very much for you time in reviewing my message. Jason

Answer: Jason- whenever you are doing lots of cuttings it becomes very convenient to use some kind of hydroponic or aeroponic cloner. My aeroponic cloner is very inexpensive to make, and is fully re-usable. Over the years, I have stopped trying to root new clones in clay pellets (as pictured on the page in the link above). Instead, I use Rapid Rooter plugs whenever I clone....I simply cut them down the side so I can open them up, lay the clone in there (after dipping in cloning gel), and wrap the plug back around the clone. I like doing it this way instead of trying to push a freshly cut clone down into a tiny hole in the plug, which can damage the fresh cut.

I recommend sticking with fluorescent lights until the clones have new roots poking out. Than they are ready to be transplanted, given a dose of fertilizer, and introduced to the Metal Halide light for a couple of hours. Break them in slowly, over four or five days. If you want to increase their growth rate, keep giving them at least 18 hours of light per day through the winter (as well as fertilizer once a week). Keep them around room temperature. By Spring, they should be much larger than they would have been otherwise.

Above would be your most successful course of action, however, soaking the cuttings in a solutions of room temperature water and B1 (such as Thrive Alive), than transferring to Rapid Rooter plugs would work well also. Thrive Alive green is all organic, while Thrive Alive red contains some chemical rooting ingredients in addition to natural plant hormones. For other last minute tips for success, check out my cloning success page. Hope this helps you out Jason, and Happy Growing!

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Hi everyone, Jason from Jason's Indoor Guide here. When I got started with hydroponic gardening more than 24 years ago, my first garden used rockwool cubes and B.C. Nutrients....and I remember thinking to myself yeah, sure, there may be a lot of advantages to gardening with hydroponics, for example there are very few pest problems, therefore very little pest control, no weeding, no plowing or tilling the soil, no soil testing or having to add things into the garden soil, no watering the garden....but for someone who just wants to grow their own vegetables and have more control over their food supply and the quality of the food that they eat, the cost of constantly having to buy grow media and hydroponic nutrients makes this an expensive hobby for most people...

Epic Nutrient Change

I suppose when you take into consideration how much money you save NOT having to buy food at the grocery store, it is surely cheaper to grow your own food hydroponically even with the cost of high quality nutrients. Nevertheless, I didn't have a whole lot of money to work with and I needed to make my efforts as affordable and effective as possible....and in the last 24 years I HAVE learned a thing or two!

As you browse through Jason's Indoor Guide, you will notice all of the systems that I use personally are homemade systems. As I got 3 or 4 years of experience under my belt, I quickly adopted a preference to standing water systems and systems that use expanded clay pellets or lava rock, because the media is re-usable and it eliminates a huge operating expense. So once a hydroponic system is built, garden maintenance is minimal- check and adjust the nutrient solution daily, and to change it completely every 2 weeks....and the biggest operating cost is the hydroponic nutrients. (and the electric bill, lol)...

Homemade Cloner

And, regarding the cost of the nutrients....I experimented for about 3 years with making different compost teas and nutrient teas, but there is still a lot of expense $$$ associated with making high quality nutrient kelp meal, liquid seaweed, rock dust, bat guano, un-Sulfured molasses, worm castings. You can eliminate a lot of this expense by becoming an expert at making high-quality colloidal humus compost, and use your properly made compost as the basis of your hydroponic nutrient solution.

Unfortunately, I have been gardening for over 24 years and I have only just recently mastered this difficult skill....and even then, only because I happened to find a very easy to follow, high quality technique and decided to follow the instructions to the letter. I produced more high quality compost in just one week than I was able to use in a whole year! If you can master the technique, I highly recommend it. It is one of the top 3 things you can do to increase the productivity of your food production efforts, while at the same time decreasing the amount of effort required to grow all of your own food, and decreasing the total cost of operating your food production system.

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This solution is aquaponics. If you are serious about producing all of your own food and being self-sufficient, this is the ultimate solution for reducing expenses (as much as possible), reducing the total amount of work required, and maximizing the productivity of your gardening efforts. I have been gardening for over 24 years, and it is the perfect food production solution in my opinion.

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Besides mastering how to make high quality compost, learning aquaponics is one of the top 3 things you can do to increase your garden productivity, reduce your total costs, and reduce your total work. The product that I learned from is called Aquaponics4you. With all of my hydroponic gardening experience, the first time I came across the Aquaponics4you product I knew immediately that it was something very special! Place an aquaponics system outdoors and use the sun instead of grow lights, and you have reduced every garden expense to nearly ZERO!

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