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Planting and then ignoring trees?  RSS feed

 
Rebecca Lavallee
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Location: Charente, France
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Hi!

My husband and I have 5 acres in France, mostly grassland, on which we will not live permanently for another 2-3 years. In the meantime we plan on visiting it only 1-2 times a year.

My husband will be visiting this fall, which could be a good time to plants some bare root trees (fruit and nut) and shrubs(hedgerow and berries) since they will be well watered by winter and spring rains.  We thought he might plant up the "super guild" with the walnut and apple trees described in gaia's garden book since we already a mature walnut tree. If we mulch the baby trees well,  could this be okay,  or are we wasting out time and money? ...they will be ignored until at least late spring.

How about now in summer: could I plant potted trees if I cannot water them after mid-August but mulch them really well?? The next time they would be checked would be October/November.

Other suggestions of we might plant that will survive our neglect?? We are anxious to get things started but it is really hard if we do not live there!

Thanks for any advice.
Rebecca
 
Burra Maluca
Mother Tree
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Location: Portugal
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I'm not quite sure of the climate in your part of France, but almonds and apricots might cope with that regime.  Not sure about other trees, but those two are pretty tough when it comes to skimping on their water.  Maybe try mostly those with just one or two of other types to see how they go.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Perhaps you could allow someone else to live there in a motorhome or some other mobile living space. They could pay you, by watering the trees every couple of weeks. If you have a dry summer as I suspect you do, most trees need about 3 years of help, before they can make it on their own. This varies hugely, according to region and tree species.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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For trees that are going to be planted and left to their own, it is best to plant them in early spring, that way the rains help provide water when they need it the most.
Once the roots are growing they will sink deeper to find water as the land dries, this results in a better tree that is capable of surviving a dry season.

Redhawk
 
Kyle Neath
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I'm not familiar with your particular climate, but for mine (little bit of rain in the fall, followed by lots of snow all winter), fall planting of trees is ideal for "neglect". I say that in quotes, because most reforestation projects occur in the fall, and no one waters forests. This works well for us because we don't really have that cold of winters, but we do have lots of snow — the snow insulates against extreme cold, the soil is lightly frozen, and the trees don't sit in a soggy mess to rot.

Another option is to spend these first few years building soil with green manure crops and nitrogen fixers. Yet another plan would be to install a slow-watering device, like an olla, wick-setup, water bag, or waterboxx.

Personally, I'd plant some cover crops and some bare root trees in the fall and see how they fare the winter without any additional help. Then plant some more in the spring. Check back in next fall and see how it all fared, and you can build from there.
 
Daron Williams
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I run a restoration program for a non-profit (planted 40k+ trees over the last year) and we either plant in October/November or January/February. For January we tend to plant in the last half of the month to avoid hard freezes (where the ground freezes). For our climate the soil rarely freezes so this planting plan works out well for us. But I would recommend mulching not just around the individual trees but the whole guild and planting area as much as possible. This will help build soil and also keep the soil from drying out around the whole planting area giving good moist soil for the roots to expand to.

If your area gets cold enough that the ground freezes you will need to get the trees in the ground either after this has past or early enough that they can get their roots established beyond this freezing area. Otherwise, the freezing soil will essentially prevent the tree from getting any moisture and a young tree (that may be frost hardy) won't be able to handle it. But a good mulch layer could help keep the soil from freezing.

For comparison purposes my area gets very little to no snow most years except in the mountains, the ground rarely freezes and we get a large amount of rain from September through May/June (depends on the year). Our max cold temperatures are normally between 10 and 20 degrees F (-12 to -6 C) but we hit those cold temps rarely and generally only for a couple days at a time before warming up being above freezing during the daytime.
 
Henry Jabel
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You might be anxious to get going but perrenial systems like trees are worth establishing properly or you will probably end up creating more work for yourself in the long run. A few months in the life of a tree is nothing over the course of its lifetime. You could do the 'shock method' and pull off the leaves like Sepp suggests but really it's extra work and don't think he would do it if there was another alternative a few months later.

In my experience I would avoid potted trees if you can they are usually extremely root bound, poorly maintained, expensive and flimsy from not being allowed to move in the wind. Also if you are going to ignore them I think its best to buy as young a tree as possible so it can adapt to the environment better and with bare root it is easier to add things like mycorrhizal fungi.

You can do it in autumn however some nurseries won't even sell you bare root until its a good time to plant them in late winter. It might be a good idea to pre order incase have sold out of the variety/rootstock you want by then.

 
Francesco Delvillani
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Location: Italy
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Figs and Kaki grow well without cares.....also American Grape, Pomegranate and, if you have enough rain during summer, Asimina Triloba..
 
Tim Pasanen
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Location: Mediterranean-Temperate transition zone
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Rebecca Lavallee wrote:My husband and I have 5 acres in France, mostly grassland, on which we will not live permanently for another 2-3 years. In the meantime we plan on visiting it only 1-2 times a year.
..
How about now in summer: could I plant potted trees if I cannot water them after mid-August but mulch them really well?? The next time they would be checked would be October/November.

I was in the same situation several years ago.  Bought a property 435km away from where I lived and could only visit it twice a year.  Solved the irrigation problem with the Groasis Waterboxx:



Only had to fill them up with water once — when the trees were first planted.  They have stayed full ever since in a Mediterranean/Temperate climate with 700mm of annual rainfall.  Except for one waterboxx that was tipped over by local kids, and another couple that I did not install correctly, the rest have worked fine and done their job of keeping saplings irrigated.  I've been buying 10 more each year for new trees.

(You get rid of the pots, of course.)
 
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