While we were busy with the riparian seedlings, the dogs had time to snoop around. Butler and Jackson enjoyed the sunny weather to scout around the understory of large cedar and Douglas Fir trees that line the river and they splashed around at the edge of the water line.
When I took a break from planted and looked around to see what they were up to, I found that Butler had tired himself out and decided he was due for some quiet time.
He stationed himself right in the middle of the riparian planting in a brilliant spot of sunlight. He appeared to be on guard duty white he took his breather from the more strenuous job of scouting out the local critters that could damage our tender trees.
The day of planting went well and I did go back and straighten the leaning seedling after I looked at the picture and realized the problem.
On a day when the rain was chunky( a mix of rain and snow), I was able to get some riparian seedlings planted along the wet area where the swamp from the bull pen drains toward the river.
This time of year the ground is saturated and once two or three shovels full are taken out below the surface turf, puddles form in the bottom of the hole. I got wet from the bottom and from the top on this task. The seedlings planted in this area are happiest with “wet feet”, today I put in spruce and hemlock plants.
These seedlings were growing in 12 inch pots so the holes I am digging are at minimum 1 and 1/2 times the depth of the shovel spade head. A four inch hole is all that is needed but in order to get a hole that deep it has to be quite a bit wider so care is needed to tamp soil back in tight around the root ball of the seedling to vanquish all air holes trapped around the roots. The seedlings are planted fairly close together since the survival rate for the first year is not stellar, and I still plan on going in again with more leafy varieties like cherry, alder and maple to plant in and around this batch of plants.
It was all hands on deck to get the seedlings put into the ground before a storm moved into the area that is expected to bring first snow then the coldest temperatures of the year.
We had a volunteer to help with the planting on this day. There were 20 spruce, 10 cedar, 10 maple and 20 white fir to get into the ground along the Nehalem River. Even Butler the dog helped by digging holes, I shooed him out of the way a couple of times to did a larger spot to place the 1 foot roots into deep holes.
Planting in thick brush consisting of snowberry and buck brush is hard work because of all the roots, but once down 6 inches or so the fine, silty soil below is much easier to dig.
It took four of us (plus the dog) 2 1/2 hours to complete the planting of the 60 trees. The wind howled at times up along the ridge of the hill and gusted between spitting rain showers and beautiful rainbows.
We had the opportunity to see a couple of bald eagles as they scouted the river and struggle to stay flying as the strong winds buffeted them during their patrol.
Within hours after completing the planting, the rain had moved in and continued raining until midnight.
Our 4/19/17 calf Dial, has been growing steadily and enjoys being right in the middle of the herd.
The other day I noticed Dial away from most of the cows, it looked like she was trying to hide in a clump of trees. near some old stumps. These happened to be seedlings that we had planted along the ditch that runs to the river. The seedlings were planted at the same time we were filling in plants in the riparian area.
Little Dial was standing right in the middle with spruce, maple, alder and dogwood seedlings that made her look like a giant.
The plants were not harmed in anyway by the little visitor, in fact she left a little fertilizer for the trees before she left.
“How can you accidentally plant 325 more trees?”
This was the question that was posed to me the other day. I guess the correct answer is that I did not accidentally plant but I did accidentally get 325 more seedlings this year.
I was so elated to be done with the planting that I posted on 3/21 about the completion. The special bags we carry the seedlings to protect the roots while we did the holes had all been stowed away for the year. The straight shovels that we use to dig the holes had been cleaned and propped in their alcove. I was done. Another year in the books. Continue reading
It’s hard to capture the fulfillment after a job well done. Backs ache, arms and hands numb from gripping shovel handles in cold, wet weather, boots caked with thick mud, and a weariness from exhaustion, but the riparian planting has come to a halt. The trees are starting to respond to the spring and are starting to come out of dormancy.
Until next winter, another one is in the books.
Mike and Butler on their way out of the riparian zone.
The ledge of the river has been sloughing into the river for lack of vegetation along this stretch of the Nehalem.
With the water still at a high level, Mike and Butler set about planting about 40 seedlings in the wet ground.
Originally, this spot had large alders growing along the bank. As the waters flooded and receded over the last 100 years, the alders have succumbed to the river and the band keeps trying to take more ground each year.
If there are no damaging floods in the next couple of years, the root systems on the new plants will help hold what is left of the earth and stabilize the ledge from further erosion.
Eventually, all the green grass that is pictured will have a mixed stand of alder, maple, ash, grand fir, spruce, dogwood and many varieties of brush vegetation to aid in the stabilization and provide much needed shade in this location.