I recently watched a Bonsai Mirai video about post collection care with world renowned collector Randy Knight. He spoke frequently about his sawdust bed that he uses to heel in “danger trees.” I got the opportunity to try that myself as I came home to what I’m pretty sure was a great lizard chase by my dogs…
Randy discusses that he uses coarse sawdust, not small particles. I happened to have a friend that uses a lathe and has been giving me black trash bags full of sawdust for awhile now.
A couple of tips when using sawdust:
- Make sure to wet it REALLY well. The first time you soak sawdust it absorbs a ton of water and has a hard time getting everywhere, so make sure to be liberal with the water you’re using.
- Pack the sawdust in good and chopstick or poke around to get the sawdust into whatever root system is there.
- Layer several inches of sawdust on top of what would be the rootball. This helps to keep any major fluctuations in water or temperature from the rootball.
Here are photos of me digging down and checking the moisture after watering for awhile.
Packing in the sawdust for a final time.
After packing and before adding another bag on top.
After adding and wetting the top layer of sawdust.
After securing the tree in, I went to further inspect the damage.
I pulled out portions of the leftover root system to see how the roots were doing before the wild lizard chase. I was mostly pleased with what I saw.
Plenty of capillary roots growing. Randy also mentioned that new roots almost never grow in the leftover field soil, but in the pumice immediately around the field soil.
While I had to experience this sad destruction of my collected California Juniper, I’m glad I was able to see that I was having success with what I was doing. Hopefully I don’t have another casualty on my hands.