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Placing new grafts in pots vs ground

Posted by seth jones 
Placing new grafts in pots vs ground
February 03, 2016 11:30AM
Hi All
Thanks for the amazing info on so many topics.

I'm going to be bench grafting about 200 trees on B118 rootstock in the coming weeks. In past I've always transferred them to my garden (aka nursery) I was recently given access to about that many 2 gallon nursery pots from a nearby nursery going out of business. I've been thinking about placing the newly grafted trees in to the pots instead of directly into the ground. Reasons being ease of transport to and around the nursery and then orchard. Also better protection from voles and other critters. Another reason was that I thought I could get them in soil sooner though at the current rate or temperature this could be irrelevant.

I would probably use commercial organic garden soil mixed with a little bone meal, trees dipped in mycorrhizal slurry and then topped with organic compost.

Couple questions:

Mainly is this even a good idea? If so, what would the best soil mix be? Could a 2 gallon pot sustain the new trees until the second year before planting in the orchard?

Any other info would be great. Thanks.

Seth Jones
East Hollow Cider
Petersburgh, NY 12138
Zone 5A
Re: Placing new grafts in pots vs ground
February 03, 2016 04:10PM
Since Bud 118 has a pretty wimpy root system those early years, like most clonal stock, you may be fine. I have had standard stock outgrow a 5 gallon pot in a season. Planet earth gives the best growth, and less disaster if you forget to water, but I agree the portability and ease of not just planting, but "digging" is a lot easier with a pot. Also, you can place them in a place that will facilitate union, as in dappled shade or under a semitransparent covering, or close to a sprinkler or hose, moving them later to full sun.

What is more an issue, is what you are doing to do after the season. Pots in NY are going to be trouble if you try and overwinter, unless they are bunkered or buried. As a one year deal, to see if the grafts took, and getting some initial growth, my experience is it'll be fine. Put them close together to reduce dessication and mulch the periphery.

Walden Heights Nursery & Orchard
Zone 3 in Vermont
Re: Placing new grafts in pots vs ground
February 03, 2016 06:15PM
Thanks for the reply Todd. When you say bunkered or buried are you talking about preventing their roots exposure to cold? Hmm, hadn't thought of this.

Also, any advice on soil mixture would be great. Thanks.
Re: Placing new grafts in pots vs ground
February 01, 2017 11:46PM
We have grown all of our grafted trees in pots for The first year. In the beginning it was because the land was not ready. Then we realized that a lot of the bench grafts we purchased did not grow sad smiley Once my husband learned to graft we had a better survival rate but still pots made it easier to water, monitor and move the trees when time to plant. We used a local commercial garden mix with added fish bone meal.

Vista Ridge Orchard
Zone 8a in Washington
235 Cider and heritage apple trees, 72 varieties,
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