I'm putting together my order of a couple hundred trees. Some conservationists I knew in VT, men in their 50s, said they could plant 350 trees in a day with shovels. Looking at my 8 acres, that's hard to imagine. Especially considering advice like "spend twice as much on the hole as on the tree" and proper techniques of planting.
I'm excited and think it has to happen soon as we're having a warm spell. No one seems out of dormancy yet though.
I'm planning to use Jacke/Toensmeier's approach of clusters integrated into the forest. After planting the trees and bushes, the groundcover, unless there's a cover crop in which case when to plant that? They will need protection from deer. I've got a couple questions, and I thank you in advance for every answer no matter how partial or brief:
1. Sure you open space in the canopy for your cluster, but what about in the soil? Just digging, spreading the roots, and burying with compost then mulching can't be enough. I think the forest will greedily rush towards that little oasis of resources and outcompete my baby trees instanter. Somewhere i read that you have to cut an exclusion zone around your cluster, breaking the roots of bushes and trees that would grow into your zone before its establishment. With what would you do that? A Ditch Witch is what I'm thinking, and still on the fence about buying a used one (seems like it would get a lot of use) or renting. Sure it's expensive, but so are trees, and so it's best to get it right the first time.
2. What kind of amendments, if any, do you use in the soil? I have lots of willow, so thought a good watering with some willow water would help them...and compost, and a mulching of aged alder chips.
My property is on a gentle slope, so I have to design my swales and hugels in the process. It's a little overwhelming considering how little time I have for tree planting. I'll probably have to work on a couple acres at a time, max, resisting the urge to spread the trees all over the property.
BONUS RIDICULOUS QUESTION: Could one cut drainage channels down a hill with a 10000 lb winch pulling some kind of heavily weighted implement? If no one knows, I'll try, and share!
Those men may have been able to plant 350 trees per day. But how many could they establish? With my current soil I could probably push the envelope using a narrow spade and plant a couple hundred or so trees per day. But every one of them would perish from my environment if I didn't take the time to establish them properly with compost, fungi, mulch, water, browse protection from rabbits and mice.
When I was at my last property a few years ago I started a food forest, and I could plant about 50 trees per day before I called it quits. It was in some pretty compacted clay soil, and I made very large holes to help establish every tree I was putting effort into planting. I would add a few different types mycorrhizae fungi to the roots of each tree, and I would heavily mulch each tree after planting. And after planting the last tree for the day I would go back and water each one in nice and heavily. Essentially I took my time to ensure I gave each tree as much support as I could offer so they would become established.....then I moved...and it all became cow fodder. LOL Though there were some trees that made it from what I understand. I saw some apples off one of the trees in a picture....they looked delicious. :-)
I wasn't in an area where I needed to clear surrounding vegetation, so I don't know much about offering any advice to your first question.
Quality compost would be worth using, I would make sure it's well finished compost if I was going to add it to the hole. Otherwise I would topdress with compost and then I would heavily mulch on top of that.
I like your creative idea of using the winch. Probably not necessary to say, but I'm gonna anyhow. I would only offer advice to be careful. Don't let the dragged implement run you down by being downhill from it. And be careful to not be in range of the cable or any chains if the winch cable snaps.
My Food Forest - Mile elevation. Zone 6a. Southern Idaho <--I moved in year two...unfinished...probably has cattle on it.
1acre with 15ft centers can fit about 108 free tree. I wonder how many trees you plan on getting, and how many acres
1) Personally I would "clear-cut" an entire acre and plant it out vs just a little pocket here and there, but that just me.
2) I like the rule of thumb that says 25% of the canopy tree should be Nitrogen fixers, and at establishment 90% should be nitrogen fixer
(think dutch clover covering 90% of the acres from an aerial picture)
3) I would uniformly try and incorporate bio-char and rockdust into the top soil before I try and plant any thing.
4) Other than the uniform layer of rockdust and bio-char top-dressing I would not try and amend the 3ft holes that I plant the trees in.
5) at the edge of the 3ft hole I would plant (A)daikon radish, (B)thyme family, (C) Rosemary Family, (D) Legume but there should already be a top of dutch clover/etc
6)a 6inch layer of woodchip, maybe even more if you have some ducks to eat slugs.
7)with 6inches of woodchip you will probably have to plant something else other than dutch clover for nitrogen fixation.
Of the above there is quite a few you can do from now even before spring comes around
Joshua, I'm not sure they did a lot of followup. Money was not an object to them and though they cared for trees very much (one had planted his first tree at 15 years old, growing beautifully today), they had an agenda. You might say a liberal agenda ;). They wanted to offset their carbon footprint from their annual overwintering in Brazil. That meant a lot of work for 2 guys, even fit and smart ones. Mostly they were planting natives as far as i know. But your point is well taken: better I establish 100 trees than plant 350 with attrition. I will aim for your 50 target in my buying, because I have clay areas (but comparatively not compacted, logging here was selective and 20 years ago).
Mycorrhizae eh? In what region were you planting? I know the wisdom of its addition but everything here has mycelia, from my woodpile to my hat a few months after I lost it in the woods. Turn your back on organic material here and mold or mycelia get it before you can say My, Celia Cruz! I will ask at the local farm store which mycorrhizae are adapted to the highly competitive environment. There are already tons of Frankia from the established alder; I see roots and nodes every time I break ground.
Pretty sure that if I cut those down and leave their stumps, the roots and Frankia will persist in the soil for some time, probably the AM fungi and bacteria will relocate to better adjacent pastures?
Thanks for your cautions on the winch, they're not amiss. I hope to have a "Dozen uses for a 10k Winch" post on here someday. It will include a similar caution. Work with what you have.
S Bengi, thank you for your itemized and meticulous response. I really can do most of those things without further capital outlay! Re crown size, that is an interesting calculation. I have to plan maximum crown size and placement. I think EDIBLE FOREST GARDENS has some great tables on that, if I can find my copy. I have 7 acres to work with (1 acre is Zone 0 and 1), plan on getting 2-300 trees and bushes this year, and interplanting them both to try the food forest model and to see which areas are best: suppose of the 30 asian pears, 10 die, 10 do ok and 10 thrive. Probably something is going right in that thriving area, so either transplant the 10 doing ok or double down with more in Thrivetown.
I am aiming for something like that 25% N-fixer mainly by starting with established Alnus rubra, thinned to 25%. Not sure how much if any I'll need to boost it tree-wise but groundcover will need some too.
I have the materials to build a "jolly roger" TLUD for biochar. I understand one of the best feedstocks is maple limb deadfall, of which i have a virtually unlimited supply. But given the time it takes to weld (and the small volumes and demand for DRY stock), it might be faster and produce more volume to do a trench burn. I also have 3 mountains of alder slash if I could do a conservation burn without igniting the whole world, which would involve the authorities b/c i do not have running water. Ugh, I've really been at a standstill on the biochar, and yet still so excited about it! But I WILL get some rockdust.
One more thing: how old does the 3' hole assume the trees are?
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even Soil:SandyLoam pH6 Flat
I would buy a ton of biochar for $800. But if you do make your own, based on what i have seen making it at 450 Celsius is the best temp, if it is made at lower temp then it takes forever for the biochar to lose it oil layer which suppresses plant and if you make it higher the pH of the bio-char is too high which can make it harder for it to hold the cations/mineral in the soil in a bio-available way. Also at whatever temperature you make it,
The bio-char will need time to:
1)Leach out the "bad" compounds in it.
2)Steal/Filter out mineral from the soil/compost/rockdust into its matrix. While it is doing this the plant root will starve.
3)Time to build up a population of good microbes in its matrix
4)Time for the microbes in its matrix to "steal/absorb" mineral from the compost/soil/rockdust, while it is doing this the plant roots will starve.
When I plant fruit trees I usually slowly pre-digg the holes and back fill it months before the bare-root/potted plants arrive.
Then once the plants arrive, I can easily plant out all the plants quickly. So please free to do all the start digging, charging your bio-char if you dont buy it pre-charged
If you get bareroot, I would buy some good fungi, add it to bucket of water and then let the bare root soak in that water for 30+ minutes and then plant.
I also recommend spending $100+ on edible winecap mushroom to add to the woodchip. I would also get some hay-bale/straw-bale and inoculate it with edible oyster mushroom.
In my previous I said thyme family and then rosemary family. It should have been:
(D)Daikon Radish/Chicory-Dandelion/Borage-Comfrey family
Fredy Perlman wrote:Thank you both for your considered replies.
But your point is well taken: better I establish 100 trees than plant 350 with attrition.
I lke that idea. The first year i planted 6 trees. 5 were girdled by deer and i lost them. Next year i planted 12 , but i fenced them from the deer, but we had a drought and i lost some. So i set up a water tank on a trailer to resolve that issue. The third year i planted 18 and they all survived.
I learned that if i had planted 100 trees year one i would have lost 90. So my slow plan payed off. You are putting much more planning into your trees, but there may be something you haven't anticipated.
I also learned a lot from these forums in those three years. My first planting i had a line of trees with same species like an orchard. Bugs jump from tree to tree so i created a bug haven.
Now they are spaced with different types to mimic the natural woods around here. Except pecan replaces the major oak tree, peaches replace the junipers, and persimmons replaces the scrubby small trees. Other trees are mixed in also.
Thanks S Bengi, I doubt I have time to charge the biochar. So unless I can find it affordably pre-charged by the ton, I'll have to do something else. I know of someone doing university-funded biochar research in my county but it's so hush-hush I couldn't find them, never mind buy any, especially in time for plantings. How unforgiving are the cycles of working the land.
I definitely will invest in mycorrhizals. Important in all cases and essential in some (like the Swiss stone pine/Korean pine, yes, I'm going to wait 10-20 years for those). I think I was convinced months ago by a Geoff Lawtonvideo.
I hadn't thought to grow King Stropharia around my trees, though I had planned to cultivate it. Better dig into Radical Mycology. We get oysters for days (regular and the browner, rubberier late-season) on the alder logs here, what do you do with the inoculated straw? With the companion plantings, that sounds like a lot going on around each tree!
Wayne, it sounds like you are talking about a food forest cluster style of planting distribution. I listened to so many podcasts, read so many books, got the Wheaton PDC, spent so much time here and still feel woefully unprepared. I have to jump though. Not getting any younger. If I were in my 20s I'd plant 20 trees a year or so, now I just have to take what I know and run with it at the volume possible. Fortunately I've planted about 12 trees in the past decade and learned from them, now I just have to adjust that to a completely different bioregion and ridiculous quantities :/
Thanks for the videos Ben. I have internet for a little while now and will rip them all for watching when I go back to Datapoor Town.
I'm a little late on my tree orders this year. A few things I want, like black walnut, are not available in the size/price/volume I want, or at all.
But I'm still getting trees from Lawyer, Oikos, Forrest-Keeling, Buchholz & Buchholz, Hartmann's. Burnt Ridge and Raintree were once my go-tos, but their retail prices can't compete with wholesale of course. Sure their trees are older, but I'd rather raise a tree from seed, or as young as possible, because the older it is when you buy it, the likelier it's had some adverse experience that won't manifest for years.
So I went more for a "volume over age" strategy. When some die or fail to thrive, I can replant more select ages and varieties in places where the plantings did work, the next year. Honestly though, I don't understand all the container sizes or ages. They're always in nursery code.
Now I will have over 300 trees, seedlings and feet of scionwood. My understanding is that they must be planted and grafted before they come out of dormancy. I don't have a lot of time and my design is rudimentary. Temperatures are unseasonably high lately, but I haven't seen leaf buds opening on other trees yet. Last year the apples in western WA lost their blossoms to a surprise freeze.
I was thinking of keeping the plant material outside and covered to slightly buffer temperature variations and keep frost off.
What do you do?
What are survival rates when woody material comes out of dormancy and is planted/grafted anyway?
There is a whole page about non dormant planting of trees in Sepp Holzer Permaculture. You basically remove any open leaves, flowers or fruit. he says he does by drying them in the sun while stil protecting the roots from light, but I imaging you could do it with snips. You then get regrowth about a month later and the roots go without the stress of supporting greenery and develop a hardier base.
This is all just my opinion based on a flawed memory
Morning came much too soon and it brought along a friend named Margarita Hangover, and a tiny ad.