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Silver Maple and/or Riverbank Grape in seasonally wet area?

 
pollinator
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Location: Geraldton, Ontario -Zone 1b
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We have an unutilized, remote area of our property that is close to the water table and soggy in the spring. There's no moving surface water, just groundwater that saturates the area until the frost is gone. The existing vegetation is pretty sparse and limited to scraggly Tamarack, Spruce, Dwarf Birch and some Cedars. Sunlight is unobstructed. I'm wondering if Silver Maples and/or Riverbank Grape would stand a chance there. Note that my zone is 1b, maybe 2b if you account for a revision to the zoning. Silver Maples grow well in our region, not sure if the Grapes would as I don't know of any wild or cultivated vines. I can find better sites to plant them but I'm really keen to find some use for this particular area because it's already reasonably clear naturally and would leave the better growing areas freed up for other more fussy trees and shrubs. Any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated.
 
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Sounds like you have a seasonally parched water table. I have those conditions on part of my property much further south. Red maples seem to do well for me in that spot, there are a dozen or more growing quite well (up to 30" diameter). Don't know but it looks like you are but based on zoning you are on the edge of their natural range. I have had some success using trench drains to dry out a portion to allow a pathway for equipment.
 
Michael Helmersson
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Location: Geraldton, Ontario -Zone 1b
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John Young wrote:Sounds like you have a seasonally parched water table. I have those conditions on part of my property much further south. Red maples seem to do well for me in that spot, there are a dozen or more growing quite well (up to 30" diameter). Don't know but it looks like you are but based on zoning you are on the edge of their natural range. I have had some success using trench drains to dry out a portion to allow a pathway for equipment.


Thanks John. Sometimes I think we're maybe on the edge of humanity's natural range. I should have added that there's nearly zero topography in the area I mentioned, so no chance of drainage trenches. If anything, I'd try to build up a bit of raised bed just to get trees established. If I could get a backhoe in there I'd try building up larger mounds but this experiment needs to be as simple as possible. I have time in the winter so I might try tobogganing soil to the spot (1000ft through the bush) but not without some more encouragement from you Permies.
 
Michael Helmersson
pollinator
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Location: Geraldton, Ontario -Zone 1b
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Okay, I've got a goofy(er) idea. As mentioned, I have time during the winter to work on this experiment and I came up with a way to maybe plant/transplant some trees. I can access this area more easily during the winter when everything is frozen and snow-covered. I always make a snowshoe path to there anyway. What if I filled woven polypropylene bags with soil this summer/fall and then hauled them in by toboggan next winter? I could dig a spot in the snow down to frozen ground for each tree and place a bag of soil with either seeds or dormant seedlings tucked into a slit(s) cut in the top of the bag. This would be covered again with snow and left alone. In theory, when the snow melts, the seed/seedling would be in a prime location to sprout/break dormancy and the bag would act as mulch around it until sunlight degraded the bag to dust. I don't feel great about the plastic but it serves a practical purpose. Somebody please shoot down this idea so I don't have to follow through with it.
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John Young
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Unless you are talking a massive soil bag i wouldn't think you would want to elevate the tree root line up in a small soil bag, as it would risk exposing the top of the roots later should the tree outgrow the raised area or the soil wash away.

I would suggest trying to figure out a tool or method to be able to directly plant your seedlings.
 
Michael Helmersson
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Location: Geraldton, Ontario -Zone 1b
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John Young wrote:Unless you are talking a massive soil bag i wouldn't think you would want to elevate the tree root line up in a small soil bag, as it would risk exposing the top of the roots later should the tree outgrow the raised area or the soil wash away.

I would suggest trying to figure out a tool or method to be able to directly plant your seedlings.



Good point. I had envisioned the bag of soil becoming bound together by roots and retaining its shape but that might be wishful. I think there's still hope for some semblance of this plan but it obviously needs some tinkering. I appreciate your bearing with me as I flail about.
 
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Not sure how it applies to zone 1b, but my parents house in zone 4  had a low spot that often had standing water, and silver maples thrived there.  
 
Michael Helmersson
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Location: Geraldton, Ontario -Zone 1b
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Mk Neal wrote:Not sure how it applies to zone 1b, but my parents house in zone 4  had a low spot that often had standing water, and silver maples thrived there.  


Thank you. Yes, I've been digging through the forums and finding references to Silver Maples being real fond of wet areas. This seems encouraging to me. I have 2 very young "Sweet Sap Silver Maples" in another wet-ish area here but it's not ideal in that there are a lot of tall trees shading them. I'm really hoping to establish a significant forest of them (or something) in the wet area. Maybe the Riverbank Grape can be an understorey layer.
 
Michael Helmersson
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Location: Geraldton, Ontario -Zone 1b
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I cleared a patch of snow and jabbed my iron bar into the ground. No resistance, no rocks. I could get 3.5ft down with no sense of "bottom". Immediately smelled sulphur and water filled the hole left by the bar. In the area that I dug out, there was Bog Rosemary and leaves from Dwarf Birch. Is it just me or does all this information just scream of an ideal habitat for Silver Maple? (30% sarcasm)
 
John Young
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I think that being able to dig into the soil right now is promising, to be able to directly transplant seedlings while they are dormant. My limited research shows red maple as slightly more cold hardy than silver, something to consider.

I think short of dozerwork to recontour the area, planting plenty of trees that can tolorate the seasonal ground moisture while establishing a root system to help stabilize the soil is likely your best bet. If you have access to cheap seedlings that may be a good option, or collect seeds and sprout your own.

I have a dozen plus volunteer red maple tiny seedlings I moved to a garden area and plan to transplant to permanent homes next winter when they are slightly larger.
 
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How old are y'all's maple trees?

If planting a maple tree, do I really have to wait 30-40 years?

Can I at least get some production tapping a maple tree at, e.g. 10 years?

What species can I tap earliest?
 
Michael Helmersson
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Location: Geraldton, Ontario -Zone 1b
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Jamin Grey wrote:How old are y'all's maple trees?

If planting a maple tree, do I really have to wait 30-40 years?

Can I at least get some production tapping a maple tree at, e.g. 10 years?

What species can I tap earliest?



I'm thinking the same thing, that's why I'm leaning toward Silver Maples. Allegedly, they can be tapped in as little as 10 years. (when they reach about 10"dia)
 
Michael Helmersson
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Location: Geraldton, Ontario -Zone 1b
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John Young wrote:I think that being able to dig into the soil right now is promising, to be able to directly transplant seedlings while they are dormant. My limited research shows red maple as slightly more cold hardy than silver, something to consider.

I think short of dozerwork to recontour the area, planting plenty of trees that can tolorate the seasonal ground moisture while establishing a root system to help stabilize the soil is likely your best bet. If you have access to cheap seedlings that may be a good option, or collect seeds and sprout your own.

I have a dozen plus volunteer red maple tiny seedlings I moved to a garden area and plan to transplant to permanent homes next winter when they are slightly larger.



Thanks John. Yes, I was surprised that the ground was still soft. And mushy. It's been a mild start to winter here but not overly. My plan is to acquire seeds this coming spring and get seedlings started asap. If I can get them in the ground over the next winter I'll be happy. I wanted Silver Maples because of their quick growth (I'm in my 50s) as well as their wet-tolerance.
 
Michael Helmersson
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Just to update, for closure purposes-- I've discovered that this area I've been looking into is actually a "floating bog". I dug a hole and brought up nothing but dense, fine roots all tangled into a dense mat. As I was digging, my girlfriend was standing 5 feet away on snowshoes and felt the "ground" shake from my shovel being plunged into the hole I was trying to dig. My research tells me that there is little fertility and little hope of growing anything of great interest to me. Tamaracks in the area are stunted and 3 times the age of similarly sized tamaracks in better sites. I'm 90% certain that this idea is now in the dumpster.

Thanks for those that shared thoughts and ideas.
 
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