Trees are wonderful things. They've been on this world longer than we have and have so many uses from keeping us warm, to providing us with food, furniture and medicine.
Many trees are simply propagated by the taking of cuttings. Today, I was trimming my willow in the polytunnel for planting in pots and eventually outside. Alder is another tree that can be propagated from prunings.
Taking cuttings from a tree has to be done when the tree is dormant during late winter. Once a tree's buds start to grow it is then too late as new roots won't form as the branch is totally committed to growing above the soil.
In the first photograph we can see my donor golden willows. These will grow in the tunnel for a few years producing 10-inch long cuttings and a few larger ready-to-go trees.
Next, we see a cutting. I have pruned off some of the lower branches.
The cutting is then pushed into the soil with a few inches above the soil to allow buds and branches to develop over the coming year. This small cutting will put on 6-feet of growth in just 12 months.
Here is a longer cutting from one of the donor trees. I felt that it would make a good tree in itself. The main stem will thicken by about half an inch over the year as it puts on another 6-feet of growth. The branches will thicken too and will have many thin spears-shaped light green and yellow leaves.
My aim is to plant about 100 willows this year and in two to three years time start harvesting 3-inch wide logs for burning. Smaller sized waste will be shredded for mulching, composting and wood gas generation. I want to set up a demonstration to show to people with land to spare, help set them up and get a little return in wood too.
I see too much tree cutting locally and no tree planting. In the past the population was such that nature was propagating trees faster than the locals could cut them. With money grabbing developers concreting any part of south Kerry they can, and more people looking for the good life, tree cover is beginning to recede.
For progress after one month of growth see - Willow propagation 2
Some useful PDF documents about short rotation coppicing - Short Rotation Coppicing