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Using slash to protect developing seedlings

 
Cj Sloane
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Has anyone done this? Got pics?

I'm planting a bunch of trees this year, some good sized fruit trees, some small 1-2' seedlings and some direct sown (black & honey locust). Although these are in fenced off paddocks, & I'll be keeping the sheep and cows out as best as I can, I would like some protection, particularly from some super free range chickens I have a tough time containing. Plus, they could use protection from random critters.

I seem to have read/heard about people using slash from felling trees to protect developing seedlings/saplings. I'm giving it a shot but if anyone has experience in this please let me know. I'm curious how much slash is needed to provide protection
 
Tristan Vitali
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We did this with oaks we planted in last year - just transplant red oaks from local roadsides. We piled up brush and saplings from clearing to about 2 feet high and in a circle about 4 feet diameter, basically hiding the seedling/sapling trees from view and making it difficult to get to. Oak's not such a tasty one to begin with, but we were a bit concerned about deer and moose since there's not an oak to be found for a few square miles now (logging industry took them all). So far no nibbling and there's been fresh deer, moose and snowshoe scat around them lately as buds start to break.
 
Landon Sunrich
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Its funny you brought this up! I just started trying something like these a few days ago to protect my seed beds from geese and ducks. I put a ring of small really tangled ornamental cherry/vine around the seed bed and some of the medium small branches in a crossed lattice over the beds with plenty of space for sun to get it. So far it seems to be keeping the birds out. I'll let you know if a week or so if the seedlings pop up well.
 
John Polk
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I think that this is a good idea. I have seen slash piled around plantings, such as you described.
One caution, depending on what critters you get pressure fom:
If it is good enough to keep deer/elk/moose out, will it provide habitat for smaller critters you also want to keep out?

"The deer didn't eat a single tree, but the field mice & rabbits ate them all!"
Don't make it too inviting for the little browsers.
 
Denis Huel
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I've tried this for the first time this year. I piled willow branches cut from a nearby wetland over a row of Amelanchier (Saskatoon) seedlings planted nearly two decades ago that the deer have browsed so heavily year after year that many are still less than two feet high and not producing fruit. Trees get protected with a wire cage but it is more difficult to protect the shrubs. It was a lot of work but free.
 
Cj Sloane
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Denis Huel wrote:I've tried this for the first time this year. I piled willow branches cut from a nearby wetland over a row of Amelanchier (Saskatoon) seedlings planted nearly two decades ago that the deer have browsed so heavily year after year that many are still less than two feet high and not producing fruit.


I think that would only work if the willow was dead because willow itself is tasty browse (including very small branches). Of course they'll die eventually unless they find a way to root!
 
Cj Sloane
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Tristan Vitali wrote:We piled up brush and saplings from clearing to about 2 feet high and in a circle about 4 feet diameter, basically hiding the seedling/sapling trees from view and making it difficult to get to. Oak's not such a tasty one to begin with, but we were a bit concerned about deer and moose since there's not an oak to be found for a few square miles now (logging industry took them all). So far no nibbling and there's been fresh deer, moose and snowshoe scat around them lately as buds start to break.


OK, that's what I was looking for! I planted 25 oak saplings last year and the sheep did go after them (I let them free range occasionally)!
 
Cj Sloane
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John Polk wrote:
One caution, depending on what critters you get pressure fom:
If it is good enough to keep deer/elk/moose out, will it provide habitat for smaller critters you also want to keep out?


Yes, best practices for logging does urge leaving 30% biomass, partly for wildlife. I suppose there is a balancing act.
 
Cj Sloane
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Here's my pic:


It's a pear tree, on a little swale mound with asparagus in the swale and comfrey, horseradish, nasturtiums, dill and celery on the back side of the swale.

You can see a rooster thru the slash, which has so far protected protected the nasturtiums, dill and celery that I thought was vulnerable.
 
Landon Sunrich
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my slash pile hasn't made for perfect protection but I've got plenty of corn coming up! I'll just have to plant the gaps with something else. sigh.
 
Dan Tutor
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I have built brush fences in a similar fashion to protect large annuals, perrenials, and trees, with great success in a very heavy deer pressure area.
I used branches from felled spruce trees, spiking their butt ends vertically into the earth at 4-6 inch intervals around a plant or tree. Then you can weave the horizontal shoots and branches together, and even do another outer ring. It also helps if the branch tops angle outward slightly.
I think these are maybe good for a season if well built, but they do need checking and occasional maintenance and rebuilding.

For large permanent single tree plantings I've since switched over to concrete reinforcing wire. It's less expensive than metal fencing, and much more rugged and durable and it hardly needs staking due to its weight. It is a bear to move the whole roll, and I cut it with an angle grinder into 3-4" diameter rounds. Once it's around the tree I don't have to worry about deer ever again, and the large diameter means room for a guild.
 
Ardilla Esch
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I use juniper slash to make shady, less windy microclimates for seedlings. The first plants to survive the sun and wind (high desert conditions) usually grow immediately next to where the slash touches the ground. It is also good to hold down straw mulch from blowing away. We have fairly heavy rabbit and wood rat pressure - so thick, interwoven slash keeps them away from individual tree plantings. I still have to use fencing for cover crop planted areas and such. Legume and grain seedlings are bunny crack - so slash doesn't help much there.

It takes a few years of ground contact and weathering before the juniper will even consider rotting. It lasts a long time.

 
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