I live in the James Bay area of northern Quebec (Zone 1a/1b). It’s a beautiful place but the winters are insane. The forests are primarily coniferous, consisting of Picea Mariana, Larix Laricina, and Pinus Banksiana.
Spring is a very unstable time, so collecting trees in the fall is the most practical option. Not saying it’s the “best” time, but it’s certainly easier to access areas of interest.
I collected several Larix and Picea in the fall of 2021. I overwintered them on the leeward side of the house. I placed the grow boxes on the ground, and covered them in snow to insulate them. This fall I want to create some kind of shelter for them, as I feel the former approach was a bit too risky. I believe they survived the ordeal, however.
We live in a very remote community, so my options for materials and substrates are limited. Pumice and Akadama are a write-off, as it is far too expensive for me to have it shipped in any reasonable/usable amount. I found a supplier who ships fine fir bark (same stuff used for orchids) by the cubic foot, so I’ve been using this as my primary component in the substrate. It drains well, holds onto some moisture, and doesn’t decompose quickly. For an organic component, I use living sphagnum/feather moss from the area and wrap that around the root balls.
All of the trees I collected had compact root systems with feeders near the trunk. The ground in the areas I collect from consist of a layer of organic matter (both living and decomposed) on top of sand. Collecting is very straight forward, and the trees usually come out easily.
Now that spring has arrived (though it has been an unusually cold one), the trees are out on pallets where they can get morning sun and afternoon shade. The Larix are really starting to take off, but the Piceas are slow to wake, and I’m getting concerned.
I’ve read that sometimes collected trees will “skip” a season of new growth in favour of repairing roots. Could this be the case with the Spruce? They look the same as when they were collected. Green, flexible, and no sign of excessive needle drop or browning. I water them when the substrate feels nearly dry, but I never let them completely dry out. The substrate drains very well so I don’t think overwatering is going to be a problem anyway. Any input/suggestions are welcome!
Here are a few pictures: