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Author Topic: RootMaker RootBuilder 2 / II Expandable Container for Side-Yard Avocado Project  (Read 3153 times)

z_willus_d

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I have a small project that involves planting several Avocado trees I recently purchased from the local nursery in RootBuilderII (RBII) expandable containers along the West x SouthWest side of my house.  I have planted Lamb Hass, Stewart, Holiday, Sir Prize, and Pinkerton.  My goal is try and keep the Avocados trained low and follow some of the precepts described in Dr. John Yonemoto's presentation here:
http://htfg.org/conferences/2016/2016_JohnYoshimiYonemoto_GrowingandHarvestingtheBestAvocados.pdf

Yonemoto's Training Diagram:


I started with just a cleared 4' dirt row along my fence:


The 34lb boxes of 96-panel (100' rolls) of RBII arrived last Friday (3/23/18):






The packages came with a couple bags of 10" Zip-ties, but I had already purchased a hundred from the local HD.  It wasn't difficult to use kitchen shears to cut the panels to size (I chose 5 per for 20gal pots) and then zip tie through the holes.


I laid the 20-gal bottom-less "air-pots" out with ~8-10' spacing along the fence.   This was after rolling out 2-3 layers of weed fabric to (a) keep the neighbor's fruit tree roots out of my pots and (b) adhere to Yonemoto goal of limiting tap-roots.  This may come back to bite me down the road, as it will limit the vigor and trunk/branch strength of my trees.  But this is supposed to direct energy into fruiting and feeder roots.  We'll see.


I then backfilled the pots with a mix of sandy dirt I had displaced earlier from the side-yard, peat moss, Coco-hulls, Perlite, worm-castings, and some other organics. I'm double-staking each tree w/ the center-stake they came with for maximum support.  The branches will be supported by trellises that run horizontal to the plane of the ground along the front of the trees.  I might try and squeeze a 2nd row of T-bars for another trellis behind the trees to help spread-out the branches.   Since the trees will be maintained at a low height, I'm hoping they'll be less susceptible to wind (also they are protected by fence and house), and they should be easier to cover with a frost cloth in the winter.  Half of the plants had some measure of root rot coming out of their nursery pots, but I hope they recover and thrive in their new homes.  I think my largest concern for the success of these avocado trees lies in the fact that they are getting limited sunlight due to their position between two houses.  I'm hoping that will not be a deal-breaker as the angle of the sun rises deeper into Spring/Summer.  I will try to post updates on this project over the coming months/years.  If anyone else has tried something similar, I'd love to know about it.  This evening after work I have to cut the tops off of each of these young trees.  That's going to be painful for me.







« Last Edit: April 24, 2018, 02:51:43 PM by z_willus_d »

simon_grow

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Nice project you going on there. Donít forget to take into consideration how wide and long Dr Yonemotos trees are. One of his Avocado trees look like itís 15-20 feet lengthwise. Please keep us updated on this project.

Simon

z_willus_d

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Hi Simon, thanks for chiming-in.  You're on point about the size constraints I have here.  I expect it will get extremely crowded with the space I have in which to confine these five plants.  Maybe that means the training will take on two levels (four branches total east/west); or perhaps another trellis running along the fence.  It might just turn out to be untenable, in which case I'll try and train the trees more vertically.  I want to give the wall-of-green, low and horizontal approach a good try before abandoning it out-right.  One benefit of taller trees is that they will "see" more light, but without a deeper tap-root, I'm not sure they can support themselves.

I'm also not using the Paclobutrazol that is mentioned in the presentation, but I'm hopeful the air-pruning pots will help with root health, perhaps sufficient w/out the Paclo dose.

Do you all spray fungicide immediately after deep pruning (on the cuts)?  I'd be worried the fungicidal agents might seep into the plant wounds with an immediate spraying, but perhaps that's not a concern.  I plan to do some heavy top-work this evening, and I'm not sure about the post-cut spray plan.

Thanks again,
Naysen

fyliu

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I'm interested in the progress of your experiment.

The support from the trellis is what holds up the plants without the taproots. All the branches are "hung" from the trellis. Are you going to do something similar to that later on?

Seanny

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Did you cut holes out under the pots?

Orkine

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Seanny, the pots don't have a base.  It's a flat long panel curved back onto itself to form a cylinder open on both ends, a bottomless pot.

Seanny

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I see weed cover so I'm wondering.


z_willus_d

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Did you cut holes out under the pots?

Hi Seanny, no, I did not cut holes below the pot.  It's not so much that my soil is garbage or undesirable below the RBII pots, but rather it's that I'm trying to follow the greenhouse ideas of Dr. Yonemoto.  The idea is to minimize the tap-root to reduce trunk and branch girth/vigor and focus on feeder-roots and fruiting.  If I were going for permanent, full grown trees, I think letting the roots tap down would be best, particularly in my cooler 9B climate.  I'm trying something else.

z_willus_d

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I'm interested in the progress of your experiment.

The support from the trellis is what holds up the plants without the taproots. All the branches are "hung" from the trellis. Are you going to do something similar to that later on?

Hi Fyliu,

I have the posts in place for at least one row of trellising.  I need to run the wires, but definitely do plan to trellis the main branches as you describe.  I'm not 100% clear on the process described in Dr. Yonemoto's presentations.  It describes pinching the tips of the main branches, but that would seem to result in a bunch of vertical shoots, which isn't what he's aiming for.  I think I want to select 2-4 branches for the main branches, and stake these branches downward to ensure they grow horizontally with a slight upward incline.  I don't think I should pinch the tips of the selected branches until they have grown out for a season.  My trellis will have several wires running horizontally, so I will have some wires above supporting the branches with hooks and string while perhaps a lower wire is directly tied to the main branches.  At any rate, I'm feeling my way through this, and I'm open to any input on interpreting Dr. Yonemoto's instructions for an outdoor environment with less space than ideal.

Thanks for your interest.

alangr088

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I'm actually trying a similar project. I just put them in a cedar wood box without a bottom. Hopefully I can train them (espalier) with proper pruning. It's Sir Prize, Queen, and Lamb Hass. Sir Prize and Lamb Hass are currently flowering.






Mark in Texas

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This is very cool!  Only thing that bothers me is you might be boxing yourself in and encroaching on your neighbor when they grow thick. 

What's the sun exposure during the growing season?

Recommendations:

1.  Establish and maintain a 4-6" mulch.  Fine, white feeder roots will establish themselves on top of the soil under the mulch.

2.  Apply a slow release encapsulated food.  Polyon is the best based on design.  Am running out, finding it hard to get so I bought this which has a great term, NPK and micro package and is "dirt" cheap. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00GTDGMHC/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1

3. If it's not too late innoculate the root system with VAM using a soil drench over the rootball.  If you've followed my post you know I'm not an organic purist and can't stand all the "organic and natural" products being hyped.  This is a good product with no trichoderma (which can actually interfere with the fungi colonization).
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00YCD88C8/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Here's a perpendicular system you might check out by the U. of Georgia.   I just planted a peach tree and will probably run the axis in line with the strong south winds we have.   It's quite close in profile to the Japanese profile.

http://extension.uga.edu/publications/detail.html?number=C878&title=Simple%20Tree%20Training%20Technique%20for%20Peaches

Good luck!
« Last Edit: March 27, 2018, 08:07:03 AM by Mark in Texas »

Mark in Texas

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I'm actually trying a similar project. I just put them in a cedar wood box without a bottom. Hopefully I can train them (espalier) with proper pruning. It's Sir Prize, Queen, and Lamb Hass. Sir Prize and Lamb Hass are currently flowering.






Not trying to be an alarmist but I've seen avocado roots of trees planted 4' away bust up slabs.  This was an old tall tree.   They are shallow rooted and can be pretty invasive to nearby structures.  If you feel you need to move them now's the time.

Don't take my word for it, ask around by starting a thread maybe.

Mark in Texas

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Do you all spray fungicide immediately after deep pruning (on the cuts)?  I'd be worried the fungicidal agents might seep into the plant wounds with an immediate spraying, but perhaps that's not a concern.  I plan to do some heavy top-work this evening, and I'm not sure about the post-cut spray plan.

Thanks again,
Naysen

I wouldn't worry about it but then again it depends on the fungicide.  Leave a collar when you cut.  Don't cut flush with the trunk. 

ScottR

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Cool project you've got going on I've often wondered way people in City lot's don't utilize the narrow spaces on sides of houses!
Keep us posted on your great little project. 8)

Seanny

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My interpretation of those slides is that you pinch the tip when it's growing to get more buds to grow.

I cut tips during dormancy and get 3 buds to grow.

z_willus_d

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I'm actually trying a similar project. I just put them in a cedar wood box without a bottom. Hopefully I can train them (espalier) with proper pruning. It's Sir Prize, Queen, and Lamb Hass. Sir Prize and Lamb Hass are currently flowering.





Hi alangr-

I think your trees have a much better chance of success as you have them laid out (as compared to my own setup) for the following reasons:
1) You have more space both tree-to-tree and it looks like the other side of your house wall there is a drive way with a good amount of room for growth, should you need it.  I'm really cramped where I'm setup.
2) You are in SoCal, with weather more appropriate for these sub-tropical trees.
3) I'm limiting my tap-root with several layers of weed barrier, but you are allowing the trees to root down.  I think that's the key difference with our setups.  I will have to fully support the limbs of the trees to help right the tree and keep it from listing over.
4) It looks like you're planting next to a large white wall for wind protection and added thermal barrier (possibly).  If it's south-facing, you'll receive loads of light.  I will have far less light exposure with my positioning, which will probably affect the fruiting potential of these trees.

So you're going to have healthy robust trees I think.  One thing that jumps out looking at your pics is the wood-box barrier.  I wonder if in the more medium term you'd be better removing that or expanding the boundary to provide more room for feeder roots and surface mulching.  Something to consider.

Thanks for posting your setup.  Please send another post once you've got the trellis setup (espalier).  I'd like to see how you prune to make that effective.
-naysen

z_willus_d

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My interpretation of those slides is that you pinch the tip when it's growing to get more buds to grow.

I cut tips during dormancy and get 3 buds to grow.

Hmm.  I'm still not fully understanding the goal.  I did top-chop all five trees yesterday.  I didn't take them down to 1.5' as the slide-deck suggested, but most are around 2' tall.  I didn't cut to trunk every lateral branch, since I'm not yet sure how many I want to trellis up (nor how much room I'll have).  My thought is to allow 4-6 branches to grow out, and then I might select between 3-4 to be the winners.  It seems like pinching the winners before they have a chance to grow out and dominate would defeat the purpose.  I think you'd want to pinch them after they grew out some in the first year.  I'm just feeling my way through this though.

z_willus_d

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This is very cool!  Only thing that bothers me is you might be boxing yourself in and encroaching on your neighbor when they grow thick. 

What's the sun exposure during the growing season?

Recommendations:

1.  Establish and maintain a 4-6" mulch.  Fine, white feeder roots will establish themselves on top of the soil under the mulch.

2.  Apply a slow release encapsulated food.  Polyon is the best based on design.  Am running out, finding it hard to get so I bought this which has a great term, NPK and micro package and is "dirt" cheap. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00GTDGMHC/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1

3. If it's not too late innoculate the root system with VAM using a soil drench over the rootball.  If you've followed my post you know I'm not an organic purist and can't stand all the "organic and natural" products being hyped.  This is a good product with no trichoderma (which can actually interfere with the fungi colonization).
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00YCD88C8/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Here's a perpendicular system you might check out by the U. of Georgia.   I just planted a peach tree and will probably run the axis in line with the strong south winds we have.   It's quite close in profile to the Japanese profile.

http://extension.uga.edu/publications/detail.html?number=C878&title=Simple%20Tree%20Training%20Technique%20for%20Peaches

Good luck!

Hi Mark,

I tried to leave room for mulch in the pots, but at only 17" tall, I was reticent to limit the vertical grow media too much since I have a "bottom" on these pots.  Also, over time, I've noticed that potted trees have a way of settling or sinking a couple inches.  I do have 2-4" for mulch.  I've been using pine-needles, and when I pull them back, I can see those feeder roots.  I wish that all were 100% white and healthy, but with weeks of rain this past month, I think they were getting a bit over-watered.  I see brown rot mixed in with the whites.

If you zoom in, you might see some of that in my pic below.  You might also see the little yellow balls, which come from that Osmocote Plus that just arrived from Amazon yesterday.  I beat you to the punch on that one.

I've been an avid tomato gardener for 20 years now, so I have cabinets full of various mycos and inoculants.  I amended the grow media/soil with some of these and worm-castings from my indoor bin and coffee grinds, etc.  I normally do a soil-drench with compost tea + Mycos at transplant, but it was late the other night and I forgot.  I could give VAM a try.  That one I haven't used before.  Why do you write "if it's not too late?"  Why would it be too late?

I enjoyed reading about the perpendicular V system in that UoG paper.  I have peaches too, and again limited row space, so that might work well for me there too.

Thanks for all the tips!





« Last Edit: April 24, 2018, 02:56:07 PM by z_willus_d »

Mark in Texas

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BioAg VAM says you should sprinkle the powder on the roots.  I applied some in water after the fact.  Can't hurt.

Project looks great!

BTW, here's a photo of a Moro blood orange tree at the time I was expanding it.  Notice no root spinout and 2 large roots growing into the ground at the bottom.



z_willus_d

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BTW, here's a photo of a Moro blood orange tree at the time I was expanding it.  Notice no root spinout and 2 large roots growing into the ground at the bottom.

That "rootball" looks stellar.  It begs the question, why even grow the container.  I mean, what would be the downside of leaving the container as is?  I realize a larger container would allow for an even more expansive root system, but if you were to leave the container at that original size, would it really pose an problem for the blood orange tree in the long run?  I ask because I do have a limited space to continue expanding these containers, and also I would like to think I might transport them to some retirement home sometime in the future, but if they're over 100-gal (more realistically even over 50-gal), the chance of moving the trees without a tractor seems low to impossible.

I'll follow-up with a post on the "beneficials" tea inoculation I'm in the process of executing.

z_willus_d

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To document everything I'm doing for these young avocado trees, I want to post a little bit about the beneficial bacteria/fungi tea that I've just brewed.  I used to purchase high-quality, deep forest compost (or use home-grown worm-castings) in AACT (Actively Aerated Compost Tea) brews.  Lately, I've just been using off-the-shelf products "fed" and aerated in my aeration barrel.  Here's what the setup looks like:


Brewing Tea:


For this time around, I started with a couple Tablespoons of Humic Acid Powder and a bit of the MycoGrow product mixed in (no carbs).



Actually, I started with an overnight aeration run of my 30G of tap water; then another overnight with the above.  I then added a bit of the Extreme Azos and Great White product along with some molasses (~1/3 cup).  This gives the beneficial bacteria something on which to feed.



I didn't choose these products for any particular reason.  They're just what I had in my cabinet from years past.  They're pretty old now, but they still seem to have some life in them.  I wonder if the race diversity will suffer due to their age??  After the first night brewing, I took an unstained pic @40x under the microscope, and I saw probably about 10% of dots in this capture moving.


After a second night with the additional products mentioned above (and carbs), I'd say 90% of the screen was abuzz in this pic.  I'm going to soil drench and maybe spray as a foliar with the reserves.  This should help with disease resistance and nutrient uptake.  It always has in the past from what I gathered with A-B tomato plant comparisons.

« Last Edit: April 24, 2018, 03:04:48 PM by z_willus_d »

Mark in Texas

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That "rootball" looks stellar.  It begs the question, why even grow the container.  I mean, what would be the downside of leaving the container as is?  I realize a larger container would allow for an even more expansive root system, but if you were to leave the container at that original size, would it really pose an problem for the blood orange tree in the long run?

Is you are a purist regarding Dr. Whitcomb's approach, just because you are using the system doesn't mean you shouldn't expand 4" more from the old to the new.  Meaning the diameter of the expanded, new pot, is 8" wider.  When the roots terminate they branch behind that termination point approximately 4".   I recently went to a 100 gal. pot on a Reed avocado because it's become a big tree with very large ground exposed roots.  Here's a picture of the gap I made and then backfilled on the Reed recently.

Opened up, ready for additional panels.  Notice no spin out:



Gap created by added panels:



Open this up and you'll see the white roots which were exposed when the sidewall collapsed a bit during my manhandling.  This is looking down with the pot about 1/2 backfilled.



Finished and mulched, 100 gal. bottomless pot, 10 panels.



My pots are bottomless as opposed to many of Whitcomb's customers who make up pallets of trees using a fork lift to move them off and plant.  He makes fabric circles which are designed to be placed on the bottom before processing which entrap the tree roots.  Given one season of growth they form a bottom which can be picked up without any soil loss.

My Meyer lemon is still in its original small pot.  I plan to leave it there mainly because I grafted it on Flying Dragon rootstock which dwarfs about 40%.  Tree is about 7 years old and still a runt, but bears really heavy.



z_willus_d

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My Meyer lemon is still in its original small pot.  I plan to leave it there mainly because I grafted it on Flying Dragon rootstock which dwarfs about 40%.  Tree is about 7 years old and still a runt, but bears really heavy.



That Meyer tree looks excellent with all that fruit and green plumage.  I have 13+ citrus trees on dwarf rootstock that I mail ordered about a month before I got the RBII.  I potted them all up into ~5G nursery pots.  They came in small 4"x9" slot containers.  I'll probably give them a season in untreated pots before transplanting into RBII expandable containers.  My 5-6 year old citrus are planted in large 40-50-gal food-grade plastic wine barrels cut to leave three-quarters of the barrel intact.  The trees did great until they became root-bound.  They're so root bound now that water has a way of just passing through the pot top-to-bottom.  So I have to water them with 1" buried drip soaker hoses every couple hours when it's hot outside to keep them from drying out.  If I had a tractor, I'd lift the trees out, root-prune them, and then re-pot in expandable containers.

Mark in Texas

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You could also use conventional pots and paint them with a copper hydroxide laden latex paint.  I used Griffin's Spin-Out of years.

Yonemoto's Training Diagram:



Just pinned a newly planted peach tree to this profile.  Drove rebar into the ground and tied the two opposing branches to it.  Here's a similiar concept.  May have already posted this, excuse me if I did.
http://extension.uga.edu/publications/detail.html?number=C878&title=Simple%20Tree%20Training%20Technique%20for%20Peaches

z_willus_d

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Today I finished pounding the T-posts, and I ran a bit of wire for the "trellis" supports.  I'm already trying to support the tiny limbs of these recently transplanted avocado trees.  They're pushing a lot of buds on the main trunk, and I've been popping them off to try and force energy to the 3-5 limbs they have now.  I believe if the limbs were appropriately positioned, I might not have so many buds popping.  Oh, they're also setup with drip irrigation now.  Summer is coming...

Here are a few pics:










« Last Edit: April 24, 2018, 03:07:21 PM by z_willus_d »

 

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