Sunday, April 17, 2011

Accidental Plant Propagation

Remember the cool chicken-proof fence I made a few weeks back?  Well I made it out of random straight-ish sticks that I had lying around the yard after pruning a few trees here and there.  We ran out of sticks at the end so we just harvested a couple more from the apple tree that, still to this day, could use a major pruning even after we hacked off a couple yard waste bins full of branches.  Where was I?  Oh yes, apple branches.  So I remember reading in The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan that most of the time, apple trees aren't started by seeds, but by cuttings...

Makes me giggle every time.
Let's cut to the chase: I have several baby apple trees now.  Turns out I was unknowingly harvesting and planting live stake apple trees all around my garden.  I can now say that I have a LIVING fence.  Not many people can say that.  Looks cool, huh?

What is a live stake you ask?  Well, there are some plants that can be propagated using already existing branches.  You just cut 'em and stick 'em in the ground, cut side down, making sure that it's in deep enough to have at least one bud under the soil.  That's where it'll root.  It's better to do the live staking early in the spring or late winter before the trees/shrubs leaf out.  Turns out I did everything rights because those babies are haaaappy.

I think it's awesome.

Speaking of awesome, check out my peas.  They are from last year's seeds so I wasn't sure if they would work, but they proved me wrong by all popping out of the ground in unison.  Also, the sunchokes are finally sticking their little heads out of the ground now, which the potatoes have been doing for a couple weeks. 

I played in the dirt for several hours today, continuing the ongoing war against the weeds on my front lawn.  (My strong opinions on lawns will be another post entirely.)  The afternoon also involved harvesting more chicken crap compost and spreading it here and there to prep beds for planting, which I just can't wait for!  I turned an old bookcase into a raised bed to maximize my growing space so that's ready for plants as well. 

I now have dirt under my fingernails, stains on my knees, and the ladies have their crops full of worms.  All's well in this homestead.


  1. Fun!!! It also works really well with willow and vine maple, and if you soak the willow sticks for a few weeks, you can use the liquid as rooting hormone instead of paying for it.

  2. your living fence is going to be a beauty!

  3. a living fence! look at you permaculturing and not even knowing it.

  4. in the southwest we use ocotillo cactus for fencing


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