Author Topic: Field growing vs large pots?  (Read 7769 times)

sherwob

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Field growing vs large pots?
« on: August 25, 2012, 05:29 PM »
Hello.  This is my first post to the forum.  I have been dabbling in bonsai for about 10 years.  I live in Sacramento.  I am really starting to get into it a lot more now.  I have a lot of ongoing projects.  I have several that I am trying to decide between planting them in my yard (I have a full landscaped acre) and training them there for 5 years vs keeping them in big pots for training.  I will be making large cuts and trying to develop trunk and taper over this time.  Any suggestions on which to choose?
 

0soyoung

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Re: Field growing vs large pots?
« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2012, 08:52 PM »
Brent Walston suggests growing in small pots, letting roots escape through the drain holes (check evergreengardenworks.com).

Trunks thicken most rapidly in response to being bent by the wind. In a pot this doesn't happen because the pot rocks or falls over instead. The disadvantage of planting in the ground is the time it subsequently takes to reduce the 'root-ball' to bonsai pot size. Brent's solution maintains a close-in root mass so one just chops the anchor roots where they exit the bottom of the pot and goes directly to a bonsai/training pot.

The other thing that Brent notes is that growth will be more rapid in a pot for the first 3 years or so. After that, in the ground excells. My experience with Japanese Maples is consistent with this. Surely it varies. JMs a generally considered to be slow growing.
 

cbobgo

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Re: Field growing vs large pots?
« Reply #2 on: August 25, 2012, 10:36 PM »
Brent's escape method is not really "small" pots.  He uses appropriately sized pots for the size of the tree - the same size as if you were growing in the pot without using the escape method.  At least at first.  Since the trees are not repotted when this method is used, eventually the tree gets too large for the pot - but that's usually about the time that you are done growing it out and wanting to get it moved into a smaller pot anyway.

The elms that you see on his specimen page (toward the bottom of http://evergreengardenworks.com/specimendec.htm ) were all grown with this escape method, from cuttings.  I believe they were started 10-15 years ago.

But growing completely in the ground will get you a bigger tree - if it's going to be in the ground longer than 3 years.  6 years ago, when I started working with Brent, we put a bunch of trees in the ground, and they are pretty huge now.  Well over 20 - 30 feet tall, and bases from 6 - 10 inches in diameter.  They are about the same size as the escape trees, but in half the time.  However, they don't have the level of refinement.  They need to be trunk chopped and developed further, which will take 3-5 more years, at least.  So the overall time frame will probably be about the same.

- bob

 

sherwob

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Re: Field growing vs large pots?
« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2012, 09:19 PM »
Thanks for the replies.  One clarification question.  Should I bury/partially bury the pots or just leave them flat on the ground to root in.  The obvious concern (especially in Sacramento) is that a day or 2 without water can cause the plant to die if it is in a pot. 
 

cbobgo

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Re: Field growing vs large pots?
« Reply #4 on: August 26, 2012, 10:51 PM »
if a day or 2 without water can kill a tree, then you'd better water every day.  Having it escape-root in the ground will be more safe, but if the pot dries out and all the roots in the pot die, then that defeats the purpose of leaving it in the pot.

If you are wanting to have less watering, then you should just take it out of the pot and plant it in the ground.

- bob
 

bonsaitodd

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Re: Field growing vs large pots?
« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2012, 11:27 PM »
How about grow bags.  Have you had experience with them?   
 

sherwob

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Re: Field growing vs large pots?
« Reply #6 on: August 27, 2012, 01:48 AM »
I guess I shouldn't have mentioned the watering issue.  What I want to know is--Is it OK to bury the pots or does that mess with the drainage and threaten the rootball?
 

Owen Reich

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Re: Field growing vs large pots?
« Reply #7 on: August 27, 2012, 06:22 AM »
Burying the pots some will not be a big deal if the surrounding soil drains well.  Most of my experience has been with root-makers, collanders, grow-bags, and traditional nursery pots.  I'd plant in-ground and root prune annually or perhaps every two years.  Or grow in over-sized containers with excellent drainage.  It depends on the species, final size goals, etc. 

Photos would help and some more specifics.
 

cbobgo

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Re: Field growing vs large pots?
« Reply #8 on: August 27, 2012, 01:27 PM »
owen what is the point of putting it in the ground if you are just going to dig it up to root prune it?  I think most ground growers put them in the ground and leave them there until they are ready to collect.

- bob
 
 

Owen Reich

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Re: Field growing vs large pots?
« Reply #9 on: August 27, 2012, 08:41 PM »
You are keeping surface roots close to the trunk more fibrous.  Allowing roots to run too far (there's a balance) will make the roots really thick and more of a pain to eliminate or reduce when working towards repotting into a bonsai container.  We used to do this work even on large landscape trees in production to push for more fibrous roots to initiate a few years before digging up, making a rootball, and selling.  Japanese niwaki growers do it as do Japanese bonsai field growers.  I'm not saying it's the only way; just an option. 

Again, different species respond well to different techniques and long-term goals for this project are still unknown to me as are photos.

In ground growing provides a safer way of growing long-term with a lower risk of winter damage from cold (where I'm from) and the previously mentioned "blow-over".   If you're in CA and temperature fluctuations are more rare, perhaps growing in a container is nice.
 

cbobgo

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Re: Field growing vs large pots?
« Reply #10 on: August 27, 2012, 09:15 PM »
interesting.  Generally, when I think of putting something in the ground, it's because I want it to bulk up.  I'm looking for unrestrained growth for 3, 5 or even 10 or more years.  It would seem that any interruption in that process would just slow things down, eliminating the benefit of putting it in the ground in the first place (except for the cold and blow-over as mentioned). obviously as you mentioned differences in climate, growing season etc would play a role.

Do you do top pruning during this time period as well, or just root pruning?

- bob
 

Owen Reich

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Re: Field growing vs large pots?
« Reply #11 on: August 28, 2012, 04:11 AM »
Bulking is one thing, while I would argue directed growth to desired points of a plant another.  Unrestrained growth often leads to thickening of roots and branches past a desired point.  I'm not saying the bulking technique doesn't work, just that if not in a hurry to gain size, there are ways to get the desired result that may take longer.

The first pic is of a freshly tilled field at a white pine grower outside Osaka.

The second is of a large tree awaiting sale but still being developed during the wait. 
 

Owen Reich

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Re: Field growing vs large pots?
« Reply #12 on: August 28, 2012, 04:40 AM »
A few more.

Field growing on raised beds so "undercutting" the root system is easier.  This may occur every three years when every other or two out of every four trees are harvested for sale or relocation to another place. 

White pine niwaki heeled in after being relocated from a root pruning and awaiting sale.

A really big Metasequoia niwaki.

The goal with this type of production practice is a cycles of growth, directing the energy to the right places through selective pruning, then root pruning to balance the vigor of the tree and produce a better root system close to the trunk and avoid massive roots that will have to be cut off later.  Not sure of the frequency for every species, but 2-4 years between root prunings seems like the average.

I personally have only used this approach in the growth of plants for the landscape.  However, it is used all over Japan for niwaki and bonsai production.  I will be doing this one day though  :)

 

Alain Bertrand

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Re: Field growing vs large pots?
« Reply #13 on: August 28, 2012, 03:14 PM »
Very nice pics, thanks.
Were they taken in IKeda ?
 

Owen Reich

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Re: Field growing vs large pots?
« Reply #14 on: August 29, 2012, 02:28 AM »
They are  :).  Guessing you've been here before?  The local niwaki growers are North of us.