Wednesday, March 19, 2014

WAR OF THE plant WORLDS! (apologies to Tom Cruise)

I don’t know how things suddenly went crazy.  Everything was just moving along in a normal pattern; plants were growing, cuttings were rooting, customers were loading up their Landscape operations and Retail Garden Centers with inventory….in fact, it was the definition of a perfect early spring season.

The trouble started with a small green blotch.  It first appeared like a delicate frond of a fern laying on the soil in the plant flat…but it was no fern.  It was the first scouts leading the way for an alien invasion from the planet LIVERWORT.

Within days a soft green layer of this Alien scum covered the soil layer smothering the plants.  It quickly spread to the Nursery Staff, covering their skin and clothing with its vile growth, attaching itself with its small hair like “roots”. It was clear that the World as we knew it might have a new master.

Just when all hope was lost, all efforts by the Military and the Dow Chemical Herbicide Department had proved futile, a slight glimmer of hope shone through the storm.  The weapon was simple.  In trial and error tests of vinegar, Clorox, detergents, and other common household items one brave freedom fighter spilled a little Arm & Hammer Baking Soda on the Alien scourge.

“It just wilts away!” shouted one of the rebel horticulturalist freedom fighters.  “Look! The plants above are untouched but the Alien LIVERWORT is tuning into a brown mush!”

“Muster the F-16 crop dusters!” shouted the General in charge of the world defense effort. “Go to Sam’s Club and Costco, find all the Baking Soda on the planet, and mount a counter attack!  Here……use my Visa so I can get the credit card points.”

Soon Nursery employees armed with backpack dusters were beating back the Alien invasion.  With a couple of applications, (when the foliage is dry), the nuisance pest can be virtually annihilated with zero harm to the plants and the environment.

“Some of the spores will survive” warned scientists. “We must be vigilant to continue spot applications to control the population.  Once the plants leave the easy environment of the greenhouse, the LIVERWORT can only survive in moist, shady environments. Our greenhouses are safe for plants and Mankind!”

A great cheer arose from all across the world. Children could now sleep safe in their beds.  Gardeners could now come out into the light!

Brian Decker
Il Presidente
Tee-Shirt Model
 Decker's Nursery

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


Since I am not clever or creative enough to figure out an interesting story line to go with this process, we will just stick to basic information.  In most conifer grafting, we generally use a two year seedling as an understock.  These plants are produced at a seedling specialist nursery that is capable of producing accelerated growth one year plugs.  We receive these plants in late winter and use our drill potting system to transfer them to a 4 inch pot.  These liners are then grown for an additional summer, generally increase in size three fold, and are used for grafting the following winter.

In order to give us flexibility to transplant into various flat configurations, we developed a simple system using a heavy duty hand drill mounted with a dowel (we use different bits for different size plugs).  These dowels were produced from aluminum at a local tool and die shop.  In the end, due to the fact that this type of transplanting occurs seasonally and in many varied formats, this simple system was far more cost effective than expensive fixed multiple drill bits on a standard flat transplanting machine.

Points to consider:
·         Use GFI outlets to power the drills to provide extra electric shock protection.
·    Apply extra electrical tape insulation to any cord areas that are subject to high traffic or abrasion.
·         Inspect the cords often to insure a safe working environment.

A crew of less than ten people can easily transplant tens of thousands of liners a day with this simple, under $300 system.

From left to right: fresh potted Picea abies plug to 4" pot; Picea abies 2 year seedling; trimmed Picea abies 2 year seedling with a Picea p. 'Blue Totem' side veneer graft; one gallon grafted 'Blue Totem' one year after graft; one gallon grafted 'Blue Totem' two years after graft

Our source for these high quality conifer plugs (Pines, Spruce, Hemlock, Fir) is:
Evergreen Nursery Co. Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, 920-743-4464

Brian Decker
Le President
Tee-Shirt Model

 Decker's Nursery