Cloning

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Farside
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Cloning

#1 Post by Farside » Wed Mar 27, 2019 7:37 pm

So I realised last year that time was ticking and I really had to get hustling on a perennial food system. That's means some way to grow food using plants that don't have to be planted every year.

Apple trees are a good example. Not a huge amount of inputs required, and every year they produce loads of food that you can process into things other will trade seasonal veges for. Like apple wine or apple cider vinegar for example.

The challenge here is that perennial systems need years to establish and I am still operating on borrowed land. And at $20 per berry bush and $50 per fruit tree sapling it can get really expensive.

How to do it at a fraction of the cost? Well it turns out that it's not rocket science to clone a fruit tree or berry bush most of the time. Grafting one variety onto the rootstock of a different variety is a thing and it looks pretty complicated but I think I can get a really good start simply by taking cuttings or using a technique called layering. Some plants, like cherries even stick out saplings (called suckers) all on their own and all you have to do is hack out a section of root they're attached to and stick it in a pot. You can grow a black current bush simply by cutting off a branch and sticking it in the ground. you just have to know the right time in they year to do this.

So last fall I bought 2 black current bushes at an end of year sale and they will provide me with all the black current bushes I will ever need. I also offered to prune some haskap bushes for a lady, and 2 months before I did so, I paid those bushes a visit and prepared 4 branches that I was going to prune using a technique called air layering. I now have 4 small haskap bushes (with root systems) sitting in pots all ready to go this year. This spring I will be taking cuttings from blueberry, haskap, and jostaberry.

And I have a pound or so of siberian pine nuts that will be germinating over the next few months.

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Re: Cloning

#2 Post by Farside » Wed Mar 27, 2019 7:44 pm

Now I'm in the cloning business, I realised that rooting hormone is super expensive to buy at the shop. After a bit of research, I discovered that the active ingredient is called Indole-3-butyric acid and it makes up 0.3% of the packet. The rest is fluff! So I went of e-bay and found the pure active ingredient. 25g of that stuff costs twice the price as 25g of rooting hormone powder at the shop, which means it's 150 times cheaper to make your own than buy it in the store.

Sign me up!

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Re: Cloning

#3 Post by dirtmurphy » Wed Mar 27, 2019 9:39 pm

Good on you Farside! I grafted a Pink Lady apple last spring. I was nervous but it wasn't hard at all. It put on probably 2 feet of growth last year. This year it's putting out leaf and flower buds. I've been very pleased with its progress.
I'm glad you introduced this topic. This is one of the areas I'm trying to improve on this year.

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Re: Cloning

#4 Post by Farside » Fri Mar 29, 2019 12:22 pm

Did you graft it onto rootstock from a different variety? Around here it's difficult to get an apple tree that produces edible fruit and survives the cold so they graft a good fruit producing variety onto rootstock of an apple that is super cold hardy. Even then it can be dicey.

That being said, people seem to just dig a hole and drop them in the ground without considering microclimatic effects. The fruit trees need to be in a spot that gets early fall snow accumulation to insulate their roots, and a late spring thaw so that they don't blossom too early and get hit by late frosts. Yet get enough heat days to actually ripen fruit.

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Re: Cloning

#5 Post by dirtmurphy » Sun Mar 31, 2019 12:05 pm

Yeah, I grafted it onto another rootstock but for the life of me I can't remember what it was. Good points about microclimate considerations. People just don't know how important proper siting is.

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Re: Cloning

#6 Post by Farside » Tue Apr 02, 2019 12:53 pm

Looks like I found an old apple tree in our area and I can use it to clone from. The variety is called Hazen and from what I can tell, it is zone 3 hardy without needing to be grafted. There is an equally old crabapple nearby (presumably partnered for pollinating the apple) so I'll be cloning both!

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Re: Cloning

#7 Post by iceagefarmer » Wed Apr 03, 2019 6:46 am

This is an awesome thread!!!!! Great find with the concentrated Indole-3-butyric acid

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Re: Cloning

#8 Post by Farside » Mon Apr 08, 2019 12:25 pm

I did some research on concentrations of IBA. The most common are:
0.1% for easy to root cuttings
0.3% for moderately easy to root cuttings
0.8% for hard to root cuttings

Apparently when it comes to IBA concentration, more isn't necessarily better which is why there are multiple concentrations.

The trick is going to be mixing a consistent batch of 0.3% rooting powder. I tried last night with a 10g sample using corn starch and the amount of IBA (0.03g) is ridiculously small (less than a pinch). Getting that mixed evenly through the corn starch is a challenge.

I'm going to have to make a 100g batch so I can accurately measure out the IBA. Mixing will still be a challenge.

I recall going to visit a factory in L.A that manufactured dietary supplements. They would mix up a ton at a time in a giant mixer and the lead scientist talked a lot about how ensuring everything was evenly mixed just perfectly so every pill had the correct proportion of everything was a big engineering challenge. They used a big Y shaped container that rotated at around 5 R.P.M to mix the ingredients together and I think it ran for about 45 minutes. Maybe I can fabricate something like that using a microwave oven turntable motor.

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Re: Cloning

#9 Post by backpaddock » Wed Apr 17, 2019 7:08 am

Hi Farside,
I've seen small "y" mixers made out of pvc pipe before using 3 lengths of pipe and a "y" fitting in the middle. I haven't seen the same "y" pvc fittings for awhile though.The other option I've used before to mix small amounts of powder is one of those bullet blenders. Chemical testing showed that it was homogeneous afterwards.
Cheers

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Re: Cloning

#10 Post by Farside » Wed Apr 17, 2019 6:11 pm

Just a side bar...

Last year I was researching rooting stimulants and came across the willow and the honey techniques and conducted some experiments using control specimens that have no treatment and comparing them with ones treated with willow extract.

Long story short, both groups sucked equally bad which is why I started looking at less natural methods. I sort of put the willow water rooting method into the same category as willow bark tea to relieve headaches. They probably work to some extent, but there are more effective alternatives available at the moment.

If you try these methods and get great results then stick with them. However if you found them on the internet and haven't yet verified their effectiveness when you apply these techniques then you probably should because a lot of this knowledge may save your life in a tough situation, or it may not.

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