Using Commercially Available Mycorrhizae Inoculant, Compost, or Mycorrhizae Inoculant and Compost when Transplanting Small Berry Bushes
The field where I intend to plant the plants laid fallow and has been re-plowed. I am obtaining a mix of grass and Dutch white clover to use as a living mulch between the rows. I took cuttings from Aronia, Blue Honeysuckle, and elderberry to root. Since I was rooting my cuttings in my basement, I sought advice on how to regularly water the plants. I took a class over winter on propagation and sought advice, in part, from my instructor and from a person at Paradigm Garden that has knowledge and experience in the plant industry. Since the usual mister would be difficult in an enclosed area, an ebb and flood table was recommended. About mid-March, I dipped each cutting in hormone and put them in a mixture of perlite and vermiculite. Almost immediately, they leafed out nicely and about one month later, many of the leaves faded. I redipped the cuttings to see if I could get any more cuttings to root. The post-mortem on the failures was that the cuttings leafed out too early. The refrigeration prior to planting needed to be colder (just above freezing) because some of the cuttings were budding when pulled from the refrigeration. Also, the perlite vermiculite mix held too much water with the ebb and flood table. The ebb and flood table appeared to pull the vermiculite to the bottom of the pot and it held too much moisture that was not apparent at the top of the pot.
Sufficient elderberry survived my foibles; I currently have the use of the Metropolitan Community College to mist cuttings of Aronia started in April. The cuttings were taken later in the year than usual and we do not know the results yet. I visit the cuttings multiple times each week. Plan two is to take softwood cuttings in late May of Aronia and Blue honeysuckle (if I can find a local Blue honeysuckle bush—my propagation instructor is using his contacts with people to help). The later rootings will push the planting to late June or early July. The plants should be adequately irrigated so hopefully everything will work as planned. The process is well underway and we are looking forward to the actual planting and data gathering process. My daughter has some good lab experience and plans to assist me with gathering data and examining the mycorrhizae.
At the 2010 National Small Farm Conference and Trade Show in Columbia, MO, I purchased elderberry cuttings. I purchased an ebb and flood table, pots, compost, mycorrhizae, and plant labels from Paradigm Gardens in Omaha, NE. I purchased fresh perlite and vermiculite for the experiment from Hummert. The Blue honeysuckle cuttings were obtained through Oregon State University and the Aronia were obtained through Metropolitan Community College in Omaha. Chemicals for examining the mycorrhizae are being ordered through Fischer Scientific, irrigation is being ordered through BFG, and seed is being purchased through Stock Seed.
Prior to planting, the roots of the cuttings will be examined for mychorrizae. Future mycorrhizzae checks will be one month, two months, and four months after planting.
The final results of my project are not complete, however, getting there has been a valuable learning experience. When I wrote this grant I did not expect to have to root my own cuttings, however, when I lost my source of plants, I realized that many of the other potential sources of plants would likely have some mycorrhizae infection so I would have to root my own plants for the experiment.
Unfortunately, I feel like I have talked to too many people about rooting cuttings and have learned just as many ways to work with the cuttings. I have also done some research in the professional journals. From last year, I find my knowledge has become more focused. I am finding it depends on the right balance of factors of three primary factors; water, media, and the plant. When factors, such as using an inorganic media to root (to prevent the introduction of mycorrhizae) or using an ebb and flood table to water instead of a mister, are changed than other factors must change accordingly. The problem becomes finding someone who knows how to make the adjustments because each of the factors have their own variables. In retrospect, if I could find a person with the experience and equipment, I may have hired them to do this part of the experiment. However, the learning process for me has been valuable and the experiment is moving forward.
Overall, I find people in the horticulture industry are very willing to share their knowledge and are interested in learning more about how plants grow. I have made very many contacts within the industry and intend to share my work with all those who are interested.
WORK PLAN FOR 2011
As stated previously, I have made progress in rooting elderberry cuttings. I will continue the process. Hopefully, the Aronia and maybe Blue honeysuckle will be at least as successful. The rooted cuttings will be planted with the appropriate treatments and data will be gathered. We will be busy at one month, two months, and four months after planting, harvesting roots, and testing for mycorrhizae. This will likely be done at Midlands University in Fremont, Metropolitan Community College in Omaha, or University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Should we determine a specific treatment group is most successful in the field, we will likely use that method to plant additional plants next year. Future research may include a closer look at the variables of making cuttings.
I plan to attend the 2011 Farmers Forum at the National Small Farm Trade Show and Conference to tell people about my project. I have several people who have assisted me in some way during my project that are interested in the results of my project.
As my project progresses, I plan to contact some of the local or regional farming/horticultural conferences and events and offer to share what I have learned. I already have a number of people who have an interest in soil chemistry or small berries that have assisted me and are interested in the results of my experiment. I have also talked with some other small producers who have expressed an interest in the project as it progresses.
Fremont, NE 68026
Fremont, NE 68026