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Skip stratification by seeding in Fall? (and: Royal Empress?)

 
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Folks,

I don't see why this wouldn't work, but I'm taking it to your wisdom because I'm often wrong about what I think is plainly right. I've set up some raised air pruning beds, and I'm thinking I'd like to just drop my seeds in there now. It seems to me that those needing stratification will naturally stratify through the winter (Zone 6b) and come up in the spring according to the dictates of their natures.

I'm trying out some Wisteria and Japanese Maple to intersperse throughout the property for aesthetic purposes. I'm also doing Royal Empress trees in the hope that my yet-cursory hunch that there's a significant niche market for such trees should be confirmed. (I welcome anything you have to say about Royal Empress, too). And then the Mulberries, because, of course, they're delectable.

Anyway: at least some of these need to stratify. What's stopping me from planting the seeds now, and letting nature do the stratifying?

The air pruning beds are covered and contained within the chicken yard, so birds and rodents aren't of great concern.

As always, abundant thanks.
 
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If you want to direct seed to stratify, wait a few more weeks would be better, so it doesn't sprout now.
I do it in late February or early March, sprinkle some seeds in the pots, and leave that outside.
 
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Usually, wildflower and native seeds are sown in the fall without stratification so your idea may work.

If it is cold stratification, will it get cold enough where you are?

So, I feel the answer is it depends on numerous ways to stratify.
 
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having the seeds in moist soil/mix, out over the winter is stratification. it should definitely work - i’ve done the same many times. if there are seeds in the mix that don’t need stratification, i’d leave them out for now. there is some danger of early sprouting from those.

there are lot of paulownia/empress trees in my area, and i doubt there’s much of a market for them, but i could be wrong.
 
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Arkady Schneider wrote:I'm also doing Royal Empress trees in the hope that my yet-cursory hunch that there's a significant niche market for such trees should be confirmed. (I welcome anything you have to say about Royal Empress, too).



Royal Empress is Paulownia, right? For the unscrupulous, there's always a market if you tell fishermen that they're catalpa. I'd move before they mature enough to wonder why there are no worms.

Seriously, after watching Sean at edible acres build an air prune mini nursery, I've wanted one. His design looks simple enough, but it never hurts to see how someone else does it, before I build. Wanna share pictures or video of your design?





 
Arkady Schneider
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Thanks folks, this is helpful!

I'll share pictures of my setup soon.

Melville: Like most of what I've got going on around here, it's stolen shamelessly from Sean! Mine is a little different than his: I'm using some salvaged plastic food-grade pallets lined with landscaping fabric on the bottom and sitting on concrete blocks for air circulation. I wanted to save my hardware cloth (I'll still need some over top) and find some use for these pallets.

Once I've got some dirt in them, I'll add some pictures.
 
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Arkady,

I will share with you some experience I have had with the royal empress tree.  I have one that I planted in the middle of summer of 2007.  I planted in extremely high heat and dry conditions.  In order to dig the hole for the tree I basically had to chip out the hard, dried clay that was almost rock-hard.  I back filled with a good potting mix, put in a little 4" tree, surrounded with a tomato cage and waited.  That first year it gained a little over a foot of growth--impressive for most any other tree, but not what I was expecting.  The next several years, the growth rate took off quickly and in less than a decade we had a roughly 25-35' tree with a similar spread.  It was very nice.  It had HUGE leaves and the spring flowers were wonderfully sweet.  Last year there was barely any growth and this spring it all but died.  I was really disappointed that the tree only lasted about 12-13 years.

In late spring we went out and cut the tree down, leaving about a 2' stump that I would take care of later.  We planted a Pin Oak nearby in its place, wanting a much longer lived tree that would grow reasonably fast.  In the meantime, little shoots of new growth shot up all over from the stump and the exposed roots of the Royal Empress tree I assumed was dead.  These shoots grew  FAST!  I eventually went out and trimmed something like 20 shoots, leaving only the tallest one that projected from the side of the stump.  That shoot is now over 12' tall and is dwarfing the Pin Oak that is very near.  I am now at a conundrum as to what to do.  I could just leave the new shoot grow and in just a couple of years we will have our old shade tree back again.  The Pin Oak is at least a decade away from being a shade tree.  I have actually already trimmed some of the lower branches from the shoot--the branches were sticking out 5' from the "trunk" of the shoot, and by trimming, the shoot is growing taller faster than before.  I am writing this in late September and we cut the tree around Mother's Day--so the 12" of growth has all been in less than 6 months and the shoots did not sprout out immediately, so the growth has been in only about 4 months!  I cannot believe how fast this "new" tree is growing.  Obviously the root system is still functioning.

My dilemma then is what to do with the pin oak.  I could cut down the Royal Empress tree again as I am sure that it will have another short lifespan, but then rise like a phoenix from the ashes, and let the Oak dominate.  Alternately I could try to move the Oak and let the Royal Empress dominate, knowing that it only has about a dozen years of life before beginning anew.

If you are wanting to harvest timber, the Royal Empress tree might be ideal.  It does grow fast--10-15 years ago before it has its first die-back, after which it will coppice back very quickly.  This is a pretty good deal for silviculture where normally the growth time to maturity is measured in decades at least as opposed to a few years.  I would expect you to be able to harvest quite a bit of wood very quickly.

Anyhow, I just thought I would share my experience as it seems to dovetail with your plans.

Good luck,

Eric
 
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