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Growing Redosier Dogwood from seed

Posts: 198
Location: Chesterfield, Massachusetts, United States
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So among other pursuits, my family members want to start basket-weaving. So I'm planning to grow some redosier dogwood and some willow along with a few other plants that might be used for that purpose to produce really pretty pieces. I've got the seeds ready. I've sheet mulched an area that was previously meadow. It's got good pH, P, and K, but it's low in N, so I added a bunch of wood chips hoping that helps. If I'm planting into wood chips, how long is it ideal to wait before planting? We just got the sheet mulching in this weekend (acquiring the land took longer than hoped due to pandemic and then it's been aligning schedules and availability of wood chips causing more delays). Will those chips break down a lot by spring? Or since there is going to be snow on the ground are they mostly going to sit there until spring thaw?

One comrade suggested that I scrape back wood chips in small spots where I want to plant my dogwood, cut through the cardboard, and plant into the soil below, then keep just an area big enough for the saplings to come up through. I reckon I'd have a lot of weeds and grass coming up through that spot, but maybe once the saplings are off to the races I can weed and then mulch around them with chop-and-drop or more wood chips. Is this a good suggestion?

Or would I be better served to cold-stratify my seeds in the fridge and then plant them in the spring? I'm trying to avoid growing them in pots because my understanding is transplanting destroys the taproot which permanently weakens the tree. I'm hoping to be able to coppice these guys for the rest of my life if I do it right.

Posts: 1507
Location: Massachusetts, 6b, suburban, nearish coast, 50x50, full sun, 40" year-round even distribution
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I would just do the poke through the hole suggestion.  A few weeds is very little bother to tend. You have most of the region covered, so it's just the holes.  This is standard sheetmulching procedure from Mollison.

Fall is a great time to start seeds.

Willows you can grow from a cutting or from just a thought about a willow. You could plant some saplings in addition to seed.  

Is there any value in a Cornelian Cherry dogwood wood? that way you could get food as well as weaving material?

By the way, it probably would be a good short-term solution to forage the willow you need, or even make an arrangement to coppice or pollard someone else's mature willows.  

I'm biased against trying to keep seeds in the fridge, but I do think it'll be fine.

For nitrogen, the wood chips will initially decrease available nitrogen if anything (debated, but certainly it takes a while before they start delivering nitrogen). You can put your pee there (my...er, friend...uses a plastic milk jug, and that can be done every few days.)  Otherwise known as Number One Gold Soil Amendment.

If you can bury a few logs of wood nearby the trees that will break down and supply nutrient.

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