The roots on TRS Cuttings a grown within black poly potting bags positioned up on the stem in a type of air-layering technique. The potting bags must be enclosed within raised beds and surrounded / covered with mulch to keep rooting temperatures moderate, humidity levels high, and shield the black bags from exposure to the sun (the roots will “cook” otherwise). Note that white potting bags are also available; these should be obtained if available and cost is not prohibitive. I would still recommend mulching around the bags to create the idea rooting environment.
A unique feature of this growing system is that very moist or even seasonally wet land can be used (i.e., too wet for agricultural production), and these are in fact preferred locations to grow these plants. The moist organic or fine-textured soils in such areas allow the “spike” portion of each cutting to be pushed into the soil easily by hand, and the summer-long presence of water reduces the need for watering (the spike will imbibe some water, and there are always a few roots that escape the bags and grown down below the beds).
On the other hand any level area can be used, as long as the cuttings can be stood securely on end (i.e., the spike portion can be inserted into the soil). In some areas it might be necessary to use a digging bar to first punch holes in the soil for each spike.
This very moist site (most of the vegetation seen is sledges) is ideal for growing TRS Cuttings.
Use 2 x 12 lumber for the sides of the beds. These are secured to stakes driven into the soil. Place the first board completely level (note level tool seen) – the remainder of the bed should be built off this.
Completed bed (45″ wide x 16′ feet long). This will hold about 140 1-gallon plants (6 wide) or about 120 2-gallon plants (5 wide). Note: The beds here are also aligned in an east-west direction. Also, due to the shade-intolerance of Cottonwood, narrower beds are better (maximum 3 plants wide). See Planting Configuration
If TRS Cuttings 2 to 3 meters in height are to be grown, the beds should be placed at least the same distance apart (recommend 2.5 m spacing).
Note also the 10-foot deer fencing around this area. This is important as willows and cottonwood are favorite browse species.