I am just about to finish planting 4 acres of a food forest/savanna north of Kingston, ON. Over the past 3 weeks we have planted a mix of trees we started from seeds (apples, black locust), and trees we bought from different nurseries (American persimmons, Hybrid Chestnuts, Northern Pecan, English Walnuts, Red Mulberry, Black Elderberry, Honey Locust, and many more).
We designed the layout last summer, got the field swaled last December.
Here is what it looked like when the buldozer was there to do the earthworks:
and over the winter
Here is a shot of an apple tree we started from seeds last year.
We planted them directly in the swale without any amendments, watered them and mulched them with woodchips.
There is something to be said for the versatility of vehicles, here is my little 4wd truck in the field watering. Excellent on gas for going between my city place and my friends' place in the country, hauling rocks, soil, building material, and the back can become a flat bed that I have used as workbench on many occasions, ...
We can see the potential in all those stick in the swales.
Adrien, that's awesome! Planting out 4 acres at once is a huge job, especially the watering in at the end.
You said you didn't do any amendments. Did you consider doing a mycelium inoculant to help establish a forest-based mycorrhizae? We did because we were starting with an old alfalfa field. Without doing a test I can't say for sure, but I feel like it's really helped get everything started. I'm going to take the leftover inoculant and treat a bunch of mulchwood chips as we lay them out. With the quality of mulch wood in your photo, that might work for you too.
It's going to feel so great as those trees start to bud out. Happy spring!
We did do a makeshift root inoculation for some of the trees. I took a shuffle full of forest soil and mixed it in water and dipped the roots in the mixture before planting. All of them also got a few inches of wood chips that had lots of mycelium running through. I think that should do (I hope).
We did the design on the ground. We started by finding a keypoint and from the keypoint laid out the keyline using an a-frame (with a bubble level instead of the classic weight and rope). From the keyline we laid out the next swales to be parallel and to be spaced at a distance that is a multiple of 2 of the largest equipment we will use between the rows. Once all the flags were in the ground, we took measurements using a teodolite to make sure the water would go in the desired direction and made some adjustment from there.
Designing on the ground was by far the easiest, it would have been really hard to use a map given that we don't have good elevation data for the property. Another option would have been to use GPS tools to map the land and then come up with the design on the generated map, but we did not have access to the appropriate tools to do that.
Once you start working with the A-frame, you realize that the land has a lot more slope than you think (from my experience).
Here is a map of the property. It is 76 acres total, divided in many small fields. We started with the front 4 acres (marked in red), and will probably work on the back fields next year. We have lots of trees in the nursery that will need a home and I would like to try direct planting a bunch.
Location: Torrey, UT; 6,840'/2085m; 7.5" precip; 125 frost-free days
I use this root dip from BioOrganics. 3/4c to a gallon of water as a root dip but it stands to reason that I could soak some wood chips in it. There's always some left in a bucket when I finish planting, and I rinse it out into the mulch. Can't hurt. Might help.
Eliot Coleman said that you can do things that individually add a 1% performance improvement. Doing one of those things might seem worthy, but do 10 and it adds up.