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My tree planting journey

 
steward
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I'm calling it a journey, because I want to continually plant more throughout life. I have a new farm, and will be moving in a few weeks, and today I planted acorns. They're from a shumard oak that I bought at a nursery as a sapling eight years ago. It's a nice looking tree, and I will miss it so I hope at least one acorn will sprout and survive.

Oaks can live a very long time, especially those grown from an acorn. Oaks have a taproot, but the sapling I bought from the nursery had its taproot severed from when it was first dug up and brought to the nursery. That tree I planted will have a good life, but it is unlikely to have the three, or four, or sometimes five hundred year kind of life that oaks with taproot can sometimes have.

I planted 24 acorns, six clusters of 4 with a stake to mark where I planted them so I can find them and also so my neighbor won't bush hog them when I hire him to mow the pastures.

I'll report back with updates and progress pics as time keeps on slipping into the future.

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gardener
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Actually, most taproots atrophy a few years after establishment. This is true of most taprooting trees. For example, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Trees and Shrubs says, of oak trees specifically:
"These taproots generally atrophy somewhat after the multi-directional roots have become established"
Note: I chose this source because it was within reach and I was able to locate this passage quickly, not because I'm trying to imply you're an idiot or new to trees :)
 
pollinator
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Beware neighbors with bushogs. Those markers are nowhere near sufficient. Id suggest 4 ft high markers with orange flags or a few tractor tires surrounding your saplings.

In case you cant tell, Ive lost a few saplings to neighbor with a bush hog.
 
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Excited to see your journey!

There is a huge oak at my parent's home that two adults can barely touch with both of them reaching around the tree standing on opposite sides of it. It's neat to me, thinking about how old that tree must be!
 
James Freyr
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J Davis wrote:Beware neighbors with bushogs. Those markers are nowhere near sufficient. Id suggest 4 ft high markers with orange flags or a few tractor tires surrounding your saplings.

In case you cant tell, Ive lost a few saplings to neighbor with a bush hog.



That's a good point. The markers are really for me, so I can periodically go around with the string trimmer and mow an 8 foot diameter circle so the acorns that do sprout have maximum sun exposure and aren't shaded by the grass and clovers and vetch and everything else growing. I hope this trimming I do is enough to make big visible circles of cut pasture that my neighbor can identify and avoid.
 
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James Landreth wrote:Actually, most taproots atrophy a few years after establishment. This is true of most taprooting trees. For example, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Trees and Shrubs says, of oak trees specifically:
"These taproots generally atrophy somewhat after the multi-directional roots have become established"
Note: I chose this source because it was within reach and I was able to locate this passage quickly, not because I'm trying to imply you're an idiot or new to trees :)



Tap roots are part of the permanet supporting structure of trees, as such, they do not atropy, ever.
What I believe the author was trying to convey is that these main structure roots stop the growth of feeder roots as the secondary roots grow and take over the job they are supposed to do.
Ask yourself if you have ever seen an oak with an intact, healthy, tap root get blown over.
The areas I've seen this occur have been areas with shallow bed rock that isn't fractured.
I have been in caves where oak tree roots are visible 400 feet below the soil surface, these were obviously not feeder (secondary) roots since secondary roots remain in the upper 24 inches of soil.
If tap root trees lost their support roots, they would all fall over in 30 mph. winds. That pretty much defies the tap root atrophy idea. A root that atrophied would sit in a loose pocket of soil waiting for the first big wind to rip it from the ground as the tree was blown down.

I live on a  mountain top and my bed rock is only 2.5 feet below the soil surface, but my bed rock is fractured and I have tried to dig up one of my white oaks, I can't because the tap roots are down in the fracture lines and making them broader every year.
my trees get to withstand regular bouts with 60 mph. winds, only dead trees have ever fallen over.

Redhawk
 
James Freyr
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A good majority of the acorns I planted earlier this year have sprouted. Some are growing rather robustly I think, though I don't have much to compare it to since this is my first acorn planting. I thought it would be nice (and fun) to go give my new baby oak trees a head start in life and put some microbes in the soil. I haven't really gotten to propagating my own native microbes yet (well, I do have a few jars of biodynamic horn manure going, but they're not ready yet, and I'm unsure if the process is going correctly) so I mixed up some "store bought" microbes to make an inoculant. I bought a gallon of EM-1 this spring, and I have a quart of something called agro gold which was a freebie. I also have laying around a dry powder bacillus inoculant and a dry powder mycorrhizae inoculant, both of which are a few years old. I mixed up about three gallons, in it 3 oz of EM, 3 oz of the agro gold, and a teaspoon each of the dry inoculants. I also dissolved a couple ounces of molasses in a cup of hot water, and dumped that in as food for the microbes. That's what gives it the brown color in the picture. There are no fertilizers or "plant foods" in this mix, just colony forming units of bacteria and fungi. I applied one full cup (approx. 1/2 pint) of inoculant at each sprout. At some sprouts, the soil was starting to crack from drying out and the inoculant readily went into the cracked earth, and at a few sites where the soil was still moist and not cracking I poked a few shallow holes (about 1 inch deep) around the sprouts to allow the inoculant to get deeper into the soil instead of remaining near the surface.

This is an experiment of sorts. The soil on my new farm has been neglected and abused over the years. I'm now a steward to this farm and it's my duty as caretaker and nurture this soil, and all life on this farm. I have big plans for this soil as the years go by, and remineralizing and building soil takes time, so I figure I'd use something I had on hand in a few localized spots and see what happens. Grasses and some vetch were shading and entangling the sprouts, so I trimmed those back to give my new oak trees maximum sunlight. The largest acorn sprout is about as tall as my hand is long, 8 or 9 inches, shown in the second picture. It is also the only acorn sprout that is exhibiting branching. I had plenty of leftover inoculant, so my experiment expanded to include two other sites. One, a bare area along a fence where nothing wants to grow, and another is a bare patch approximately 10 square feet in area where the soil is exposed and things don't want to grow (last two pictures). I applied my leftover inoculant at these areas to see if I can tilt the balance and get something (anything really) growing there so the soil is not left exposed to the sun and eroding when it rains. I made all these applications on a sunny afternoon, with an inch of rain following at daybreak the following morning. I'll report back on these two sites, and the acorn sprouts of course, when I have new observations.
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James Freyr
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Here's a follow up picture of the bare spot that I poured leftover inoculant on. It's the same spot as the last picture in the post above. I don't really have proof if the inoculant had anything to do with what's growing there now, but I am happy that things are growing there and very little of that soil is bare now.
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Bryant RedHawk
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James Freyr said;I also have laying around a dry powder bacillus inoculant and a dry powder mycorrhizae inoculant, both of which are a few years old



The great thing about spores and most bacillus is that it can last for years in this dormant state (some can last 100's of years).

In your bald spot photo it looks like the dying plants have had a huge recovery due to your inoculation, way to go Kola James! That spot will be completely covered next spring I would think.

Thanks for putting up this thread and  the photos.

Redhawk
 
pollinator
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I enjoyed reading this, I recently took a video of a section of the oak forest I planted, I think I will make a thread like this, I find it very motivating to see other people interested, at home no one in my age bracket could give a toss lol.
 
James Freyr
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Today I made some little cages for the new oak sprouts to prevent rodents from chewing them over the winter. I used some hardware cloth I had, and kind of "stitched" together the ends to make a tube using some leftover light gauge wire, and secured them to the ground using some old landscape staples I had laying around. The acorns had about a 50% germination and survival rate in their first year. A couple were short having been chewed on by something, with one being chewed almost to ground level, resulting in a little coppicing sprout coming up.
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Did the others end up branching out? If not, and you want to encourage more branching, you can punch/clip the growing tips to encourage ramification.
When training a seedling for bonsai, I've found that pinching the ends of the stems quickly results in ramification of the branches, and a first year seedling will quickly double in density, while a 3 year old tree remains a whip.
 
James Freyr
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Hi Kc. A few of the sprouts exhibited early branching, and it appears a couple had the tops clipped by something, and I know they'll branch out this coming spring. It is not my goal to have these branching or being topped so early and not the shape of tree that I desire. It will be a few years before I cull the ones I don't want to keep, but in the meantime I'm just letting nature and survival of the fittest play out.
 
James Freyr
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My second nursery order was delivered last week (my first was 32 blueberry bushes). It contained four apple trees, two sour cherry, two pawpaw, two mulberry, two pear and a fig. Also included, but not trees were an aronia berry bush and a juneberry bush and some thornless blackberry canes. I ordered them from Hidden Springs Nursery here in Tennessee. They're all relatively small, with the largest tree being about 24 inches tall and is exactly the size trees I was looking for. I think small trees are the way to go, and will get established and growing faster than planting much larger trees (I tried this years ago with not so great results). It took me a couple days to plant everything. I put a lot of care and attention to detail in them and making sure the roots were spread out heading in all different directions in several different depths. I did not add any fertilizer to the planting hole. I only watered them in with a microbial & mycorrhizal inoculant. I did mix up a few strong solutions of fish hydrolysate + kelp, and using a watering can I sprinkled this over the native undisturbed soil about 12 inches wide around the holes I dug. My thoughts are to get minerals into the soil outside the planting hole and when the tree roots grow into this area, it will really kick things off, as opposed to putting minerals and fertilizer in the planting hole which makes such a nice happy planting spot the tree roots tend to stay put and not reach out into new soil.
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James Freyr
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Last week my 3rd bundle of trees arrived and over the weekend and I planted 9 more fruit trees that I ordered last August. They're a little bigger than the ones I planted last November. The trunks on these are about 1/2 to 5/8 inch in diameter, were grafted a few years ago, and have some branching already. They're all about 4 feet tall. What they do have in common with the ones I planted last fall is they are old heirloom varieties. I do not want to plant any commercial production varieties on my farmstead but made an exception for one so far. The only variety that I planted that is commercially produced is a Ranier cherry tree, but it's been around since the 50's so it's not exactly a "new" hybrid. It is said to do well in my hot southern climate and mild winters. I did plant a few older hybrids, and also much older varieties such as a Governor Wood cherry first introduced in 1842 and the Hubbardston Nonesuch apple, from the early 1800's. This past weekend I planted four peach, three cherries and two plum trees.

This is it for fruit tree planting for my first year on the new farm. I planted 22 trees, along with another 3 dozen berry bushes, mostly blueberry. I think this is a great start, and I don't want to have any more than this to have to water if there is a drought this summer. I do plan to order more this summer for next fall/spring planting. I want to focus on nut trees, but also add a few more fruit tree varieties. I figure the more varieties and diversity the better, so if some fail to set or get bit by frost, other varieties will still give produce something.

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new bare root peach, cherry and plum trees
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Where did you order your trees from?
 
James Freyr
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Hi Matt!

The smaller trees came from Hidden Springs Nursery here in Tennessee. https://permies.com/wiki/100718/Hidden-Springs-Nursery-Tennessee-USA

The larger trees came from Trees of Antiquity. I just looked and we don't have a wiki for this nursery, so I'll need to make one here soon. Here is their website: https://www.treesofantiquity.com

Trees from both I am happy to say are doing well. The smaller ones from Hidden Springs cost less, and Trees of Antiquity was somewhere in the $30's per tree but have a few more years on them. I think both nurseries are good and recommend both to anyone. I really like Trees of Antiquities old heirloom varieties they have to offer, which is what I'm after and am planting on my farm.
 
Matt Dale
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Cool thanks! I’ll have to check them out! Have not heard of them.
 
James Freyr
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Here an update on those acorns I planted. Some have survived, some haven't. A couple look alright, a few really don't look all that great. They started leafing out in April, and the tiny young fresh leaf growth either got nipped by a freeze we had, or succumbed to drift exposure from my neighbor spraying in the first week of April. Taking into account they are a different type of oak than the ones already growing here on the farm, they just don't look as robust as other baby oak trees sprouted from the landrace oaks already growing here. I trimmed all the grasses growing around the 1 year old trees and made sure an orange flag is next to the trees as my neighbor is coming to mow soon. Even though I cut grasses around them earlier this spring, some of them were really being shaded and choked by all the growth around them. Hopefully all this unimpeded sunlight will get them perked up. This picture is of the best looking one out of them all.

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James Freyr
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Last week I planted some unknown number between 100 and 200 acorns I gathered from some Red, White and Willow oak trees I have growing on my farm. I failed to take a picture. I have a couple areas on my farm that stay pretty wet and aren't conducive to growing quality grazing forages, so I'm going to abandon those areas and let them go back into woods. I planted the acorns in an effort to get something established that isn't sweet gum trees, which are prolific. There were a couple oak sprouts already there that had been clipped by the bush hog so I'm confident that a portion of the acorns I planted will take in these wet conditions and grow into nice trees.

Also, I saved some peach pits from some peaches I bought at the farmers market earlier this year and I planted them today. They came form Elberta peaches and on trees grown locally. I know there's no guarantee of the seeds sprouting into trees that produce the same sweet and delicious fruit, but it's worth a try.



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