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Transplant or thin?

 
Joe Shupe
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So first off I wanna say that if this isn't the correct use of the forum my apologies, this my first time posting to a forum (I'm pretty new to them in general as well).
Im gonna get right to the point then give some background.

At the Farm there is a cluster of 5 walnut tree's ranging from 3'-10'+ all growing in about a 1 foot square area. Now one of the bigger trees has just started leaning/falling over and is touching the ground. My question is should we dig them up and try to transplant them or pick one tree to keep and cut out the rest? This cluster is in the middle of two well developed walnuts that both produce are right around 200' apart.

So ^that^ is the meat of this situation.

It comes down to my complete and utter lack of knowledge on transplanting and general information on walnuts. I have read that its best to do it early spring or in the fall so the plan was to wait until fall this year to do the research and make the decision but with the one tree falling over I thought maybe now is the best time to do something. Ive done some basic internet research on the subject but haven't found anything about what to do when there is a cluster of trees growing. The Walnuts seem to like this area as there are two nice trees already growing and this cluster starting up. It is right next to the family's chicken coop area so plenty of nitrogen, slightly hilly area, and we have started our vermiculture enterprise (very small) in this area as well. So I'm hoping the soil is or will be doing well soon.

Any and all help is greatly appreciated.
 
John Elliott
pollinator
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Yes, transplanting is best done when the tree is dormant and not right in the middle of the growing season. Digging it up during the growth phase is difficult on the roots, and the more roots you damage, the more that stress shows up in all the other parts of the tree. That's why they make these tree-transplanter trucks that use 4 enormous blades to dig down in and scoop out the tree with one bite of the soil. The more you can imitate that kind of action, the more successful your tree move will be. Like this:



If you do have to go at it manually with shovels, make sure to use a lot of water -- before you dig to loosen the soil and make it easier to pull the tree out of the dirt by the roots, keep it wet while you are moving it, and water it in good in its new home.
 
Miles Flansburg
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Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
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Welcome to permies Joe!
 
R Scott
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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Separating the roots may be really difficult at this point. If you can pull one from the edge, great; but I wouldn't jeopardize the strong one if it is already where it can grow to maturity.

I would chop and drop the others as fertilizer and mulch right there. Maybe keep the strongest two for this year and thin to one next year.
 
Robert Jordan
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Location: Dublin, Ireland
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Interesting situation that prompts a question I've had recently the answer to which will enlighten THIS discussion: Paul Wheaton, quoting sepp holzer (I think), says a seedling tree has a strong tap-root whereas a transplant doesn't. My question is how old can we transplant a seedling and maintain its taproot, so it wont need staking into the future. i.e. it will still become what Holzer refers to as an 'independent' tree?
p.s. I play cricket with a team called the Walnutters.
 
Joe Shupe-Kuszaj
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Miles: thanks!

R scott: those have been my thoughts on the situation. I just hate to see the other ones go down, theres just a romanticism to a tree that started from a seed that I love. Which is why I am reaching out in hopes of finding another commonly known/unknown permaculture technique for this sort of situation.
Robert: interesting question that I would also like to know the answer too, though im sure like all things it varies by species. Unfortunately I think I remember reading somewhere about black walnuts having deep taproots that would make digging them up and separating them difficult.

So at this point im thinking its going to be to chop and drop method seeing as how I don’t really need to worry about the jugulone in this area. BUT with a twist, the smaller trees (3’ish) are the farthest from the largest tree…maybe I could dig them out and attempt to transplant them? They are at most a foot away from the 10’+ gentleman.
 
We don't have time for this. We've gotta save the moon! Or check this out:
The stocking stuffer game for all your Permaculture companions
http://www.FoodForestCardGame.com
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