This post, titled How to Winterize a Backyard Nursery Propagation Bed, talks about what needs to be done to prepare a propagation bed with softwood cuttings for winter. We also go over what we need to do with last year’s cuttings that are now potted.
Propagation Bed Basics
The propagation bed consists of sharp sand and an intermittent mist system set up. The mist system sprays water on the leaves of the plants for ten seconds and comes on every five minutes. This mist keeps the leaves wet, which keeps the plants from drying out and gives the little cuttings time to put roots down.
The sharp sand is something that they call concrete sand. The sand allows the water to pass easily through. Since the cuttings don’t have roots yet or at least have small roots after a few weeks, we don’t want water sitting around. If water did saturate soil around the root area, the cuttings would rot before they put down roots.
Change The Timer
Before the system is totally winterized, I need to do some things now. First, because the days are getting shorter, the days are cooler, and the sun is not so intense, I’m going to change the timer. I’m going to set it to come on for ten seconds, but only to come on every 10 minutes vs. the 5 minutes that I had the system set for during the heat of the summer.
Remove Dead Plants
Next, I’m going to go through each plant and get rid of the ones that didn’t take root. I want to do this now because the plants still have leaves on them. This will be harder to do once all of the leaves have fallen, because I can’t tell what is alive and what is not. I will also give a slight tug on the cuttings to weed out the ones that don’t have a good root system. If they don’t have a good root system at this point, they won’t make it through the winter.
Later in the Year
Later in the winter I will dig up all of the rooted cuttings and put them in the refrigerator. This will keep them dormant and give me extra time to ship them in the spring. I will ship these plants as first year rooted cuttings.
Last Year’s Plants
I will go through all of last year’s plants that I still have, which are all in pots now. I will remove any pots that have plants that didn’t make it. The items that will stay in pots until next summer will need to be protected from temperatures below 20-degrees Fahrenheit. If I just left the pots out and we went down into the teens, the root system would get too cold and die. So plants left in pots need to be moved into the garage once the leaves fall off.
Most of the plants will not stay in pots. As soon as they are fully dormant, but before the weather gets too cold, they will be dug up and moved to a refrigerator for shipment. They will be sold as and shipped as second year rooted cuttings.
In another six to eight weeks I will remove all of the plumbing, drain it and put it away for next year. I cannot leave it out as it is because the pipes will burst when the temperature goes down into the twenties during the winter.
How to Buy the Plants
If you are interested in buying any of these plants, you can check them out at GreatEscapeNursery. We will open Spring ordering in early November. The plants are small, and inexpensive, so we expect to sell out early.
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Check out the video titled Backyard Nursery Propagation Bed Winterization
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