Planting trees is a wonderful way to "give back" to our environment.
When I first bought my farm, I always wanted to do a great reforestation project so that there would be plenty of young, healthy trees in the woodlands to replace various old ones when their lives ended. Trees provide habitat and food for birds and other animals, they absorb carbon dioxide and potentially harmful gasses, and they release lots of oxygen. Every year, I try to plant as many trees as I can, and this year has been especially productive. We've already planted thousands of tree seedlings around the farm, but thousands more are thriving in temporary fields, or in individual pots until they can be transplanted to their permanent locations.
This week, the outdoor grounds crew repotted more than 1400-seedlings into larger containers, so they could continue to strengthen and develop. Here are some photos - I hope they inspire you to also plant some trees this year.
Hundreds and hundreds of potted trees are currently situated on the gravel parking lot in front of my main greenhouse – all neatly organized, and identified.
You may recall, we placed them here last spring when they were much smaller and quite bare.
At that time, most of the species cuttings had an average height of about 12-18 inches, with some reaching about 24-36 inches.
And after a few months, they’re now a few inches taller and full of leaves.
But they needed to be repotted into larger containers, so they could continue to develop properly.
For this project, we needed hundreds of pots, which we were able to get from a nearby nursery.
We used what I call our “black gold” composted manure. Composting manure above 131-degrees Fahrenheit for at least a couple weeks will kill harmful pathogens, dilute ammonia, stabilize nitrogen, kill weed seeds and reduce objectionable odors.
This “black gold” is made right here at my farm, and used for all my garden beds. In order to get all the seedlings potted as quickly as possible, the crew created a very productive assembly line.
When repotting, Wilmer first loosens the root ball by hand to encourage aeration.
Then, he places the tree at the same level it was grown in its previous pot – where the roots start and the top shoots begin.
The soil is then gently filled in around the roots, but not packed too tightly.
Finally, he finally packs the soil down around the plant to remove air pockets which could fill with water.
Some of the varieties include royal purple smokebush or Cotinus coggygria, whitebarked Himaylayan birch or Betula utilis, white oak or Quercus alba, chinquapin oak or Quercus muehlenbergii, and ginkgo biloba.
Although ginkgos grow the world over, some of the oldest specimens are found in South Korea, Japan, and in China, where there is one that is reported to be more than three-thousand years old.
Smokebush trees are known for their large billowing summer blooms that have a puffy cloud-like or “smoky” appearance. I have many of these at the farm.
Although called a white oak, it is very unusual to find an individual specimen with white bark; the usual color is a light gray. In the forest it can reach a magnificent height and in the open it develops into a massive broad-topped tree with large branches.
Whitebarked Himalayan birch is greatly prized for its distinctive white bark which makes it a welcome addition during the darker days of winter.
The chinquapin oak is known for its sweet acorns. The nuts contained are among the sweetest of any oak, and is an excellent source of food for wildlife.
All the potted seedlings are kept grouped together, where they can continue to be carefully maintained until they’re transplanted into the ground.
These trees will be a spectacular addition to the woodlands surrounding my farm, and to our environment.