Shock method

Be sure to spread the word you’re planting a food forest. So many people who keep (or in many cases neglect) fruit trees lurking about their yard are often more than happy to have you dig up seedlings –even young saplings, take cuttings, dig perennials, annuals, anything, if you’ll just get out there and do it.

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A freshly transplanted persimmon. As you might guess by the wild carrot blooming in the background, it isn’t spring.

Often the situation’s a ‘get it now or it’s gone’ though. So if it’s July, or August, the plant is fully leafed, and you know you have to severe some roots to get the goods, what’s the chance it will take root in its new home, much less survive the coming winter?

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Leaves removed, half of the above ground growth removed (there were two sides almost the same size. I just cut one of the sides off.) Now to wait until next spring to see if it leafs out.

Counter intuitive to drenching with water and propping up with sticks, I would recommend that you completely shock the plant. Strip every leaf, cut off about half the branches in most cases, don’t bother watering at all.

Like animals, plants have a way of conserving energy to get through hard times. The faster they get the message though, the more they can preserve.

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A Viburnum I just yanked out of a friend’s flowerbeds ( with permission!). All the the leaves are stripped and half the above ground growth is removed.

Those leaves are not for preservation. They in fact transpire a lot of water; otherwise they’d stay through the winter. Plant  branches are fed by plant roots. Hence, when a plant loses some roots in transplant, the branches die back. Since losing some roots is inevitable in transplant, I usually take off half the above ground growth.

Watering seems unnecessary. I have just as much success without watering as with watering. Sepp Holzer, who first named the method, also eschews the need for watering in transplants in almost all cases. I welcome any comments for or against this method, as few people even consider not watering, but I think the tactic even improves the plants later growth. Second opinions welcome.

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The results about three weeks later.

What is helpful is making the area around the transplant gentle. Mulching and setting a rock or two around it to modify extreme changes in temperature and keep a moderate moisture is best.

I know this all sounds harsh. But try it the next time you have a risky transplant. You’ll be surprised at the results.

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