Air Prune Beds 

Simple 1' x 2' air prune beds.

Have you ever thought about starting plants for your own food forest, or growing trees and shrubs with the intention to plant them out somewhere else? Have you ever wanted to grow hundreds of trees and shrubs in a small space, then gift them to families and friends? Or maybe you’ve thought about starting your own nursery? The thing with tree seeds is that they can be easily planted in pots, but they then become root bound, making for tough times down the road. They will recover in time, but the roots will need a period to adjust, which can set the growth back quite a bit.

This is where air pruning or root pruning comes in handy! This has nothing to do with making actual cuts to the roots, but it has everything to do with the natural processes of tree growth. Here, we’ll talk a bit about how to build an air prune bed and to grow hundreds of easily transplanting plants.

The Growth Process of a Tree

If you know anything about the growth process of a tree or a shrub--or most plants that aren’t annuals, or even some annuals as well--you’ll know that one of the first things that a seedling undergoes after germination is sending out two shoots. One becomes the trunk or main foundation of the tree, and the other is the taproot. A taproot is a long and strong central root, sort of mirroring the trunk of the tree.

Taproots help to keep a plant in place, anchoring it so it doesn’t get washed or blown away. They also dig deep into the Earth, retrieving trace minerals and nutrients that aren’t accessible at the surface, but instead lie far beneath in the substrata. These are ingenious adaptations made by many plants, no doubt ensuring their survival and a main part of why they are here today! However, if you are trying to transplant a tree, the taproot can be quite the nuisance. They can grow quite fast, and are usually longer than the main stem in the younger ages, and if you break one while trying to dig up the plant, it will severely damage the plant, stunt the growth and in some cases it will prove fatal to the plant.

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