These trees are ready to be planted. In order to get the plants to the needed areas, the 12 inch pots are tied onto backpacks for the trek along the river.
6 pots are all that are put onto each backpack since the walk is through scrub brush and over fence lines. Any more weight than that would be too much for each packer since we also need to carry our shovel and in the case of cedar trees, protective cages for them. The Gator helps to get us near the planting area, but still many spots cannot be reached by Gator or tractor.
The rush is on to get some riparian planting done before our load of seedlings arrive in February for the much bigger areas that need planting on top of the hill where our logging operation opened up large spots in the forest.
A long-time woodland owner and successful cedar tree grower told us his secret to keeping tender cedar seedlings from becoming dinner for the wildlife. He said that setting up the site ahead of time with the mesh cages in place give the elk time to snoop around the area and have fun playing with the cages. With the elk used to seeing empty cages, it is less likely that they will mess with them after they are protecting the new seedlings that are due to arrive for planting next month. Continue reading
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.
The last few years have shown an increase in the demise of the alder trees along the river. The trees are quickly coming to their natural lifespan.
This tree is the second one to fall in the last week after a series of storms. Any limbs that have not shattered completely will be used in our outdoor wood furnace to heat the house. The larger wood will be cut and stacked by the woodshed and used through the winter.
With the loss of each alder it is important that we replace with new seedlings, but the alders are about 50 to 70 years old and seedlings will not give the cooling shade and protection to the river/riparian area for several years. It is hard to keep up with the losses, each year we are filling in as many spots as possible while trying to keep the invasive species like Scotch Broom and blackberry briars from taking over the river bank.
In preparation of the seedling test site in the woods, a new trail camera has been purchased.
It is all set up and ready to go so that the next time I hike to the top of the hill I will be able to position the camera to watch what hoodlums are wreaking havoc with our cedar seedlings and protective cages. Some of the cages, bamboo stakes and raspberry tether stakes have already been moved to the test site with the rest being taken up in small trips. All roads are impassable during this time of year even with the bulldozer, so bundles of supplies will be tied to backpacks for the trek as will the seedlings hopefully arriving around the beginning of February.
(Spoiler alert: We believe most of the damage is being done by elk from all the footie prints and droppings left behind. This camera will be positioned to monitor when they are coming into the area, how many there are and assessing possible changes to the planting and cages to keep the no-good-nicks from spoiling our entire nursery of seedlings).
Several weeks ago, before winter began for the second time, I had mentioned that I was nearly ready to transplant the tomato seedlings into 4 inch pots. Once the weather stalled the new growth of the small plants, I held off doing anything besides just making sure they had as much light from the window as they waited in the garage for spring.
Instead of planting into 4 inch pots I changed the plan and re-potted into a mid-sized between the 1 inch homes they were used to and the too big 4 inch ones. The plants have roots enough to hold the soil around them as I have done the transplanting but not the vigor I would have had if the weather had stayed mild.
So for now, the 12 plants that I started from the saved seeds of last years crop of orange cherry tomatoes and the 12 plants that I started from the commercial Super Sweet 100 Hybrid seed, will be babied along until the next growth spurt before transplanting them into the 4 inch pots.
While we managed to get the first load of seedlings into the ground and all settled in, the east wind and freezing weather forecasted may mean an end for the late fall planting. I’ll have to see what happens after this week to judge if another load would be able to be planted next week after temps moderate.
Ideally we would have started a week to ten days earlier, that would have been when the seedlings were in early dormant stage. It is good, however to get the amount of trees in when we did before the colder weather moved in. There still will be opportunities to continue the riparian planting in January and February and can go as late as March depending on weather patterns during that time.