A Change For The Tomato 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.

Tomato seedlings in small containers.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.


Freezing May Curtail Next Load Of Planting

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.


Tree Mortality

Each year during the winter months and into the spring we spend some time planting in the riparian zone (the green space we maintain along the rivers and streams). The last three years have not been kind to the seedlings. A walk along the rivers edge shows where the plantings have perished.  Some dried up from blistering summer days or had been stomped out by elk or nibbled down to stubs by deer, and the weather has alternated between drought and flood instead of middle-of-the-road temperate.

Crops of all kinds around the area have been experiencing some of the same problems. Tree farms that specialize in the varieties for Christmas trees are noticing a loss rate of nearly 40 % of all new seedlings planted. That is almost double what the loss rate had been in the past. Our plantings along the waterways are showing 60-70% loss rate. Along with the aging out of the current alders along the river, the area is changing quickly and the need for more trees to replace is increasing.

With advice from the local water governing council, we are going to attempt to begin a winter planting instead of waiting with the seedlings until the end of January. Trees will be picked up in batches starting tomorrow and will continue until the weather turns colder.

A New Forest Emerging

Young fir trees compete with the dicidious trees to get established.Since the ground has dried out from last weeks gully-washers we have tried to finish our season of logging while cleaning up winter storm damage.

On my walk up the hill today, I noticed the growth on the seedlings we had planted along this skid road.

The seedlings are now about 5 years along and are starting to emerge from the brush like ground blackberries, thistles, buckbrush, wild roses and salal. Within another year or two, the seedlings will overtake the taller brush and trees like wild cherry, hazelnut, vine maple and within five years will be taller than the large leaf maple and alder sapling trees.

It was difficult to see if our planting was successful until these youngsters got established and began to overtake their competitors. Now that the trees are more visible I can see a couple of spots on this small hillside that may need an extra tree or two plugged in when we begin planting again.

Not Cagey

I had noticed that something had been nosing around the cedar seedlings that we had planted and placed protective cages around.

Cages around the tender cedar seedling was pulled from plant.Out of the 25 seedlings in this area, only 1 plant with cage had been left alone. The rest had cages torn off the bamboo poles, had the poles broken off at ground level, or the cages were completely missing from the area just so the seedlings could be exposed for grazing.

The tender cedar trees were just too much of a temptation for cows, calves, elk or deer that could smell the delicacy beneath the protection of the cage.

I spent several hours re-caging what was left of the seedlings in hope that the cages will stay in place through the summer for the plant to get settled into the ground. As I worked my way around the hillside, I did see a few of the cedars that we had to replant that had been pulled out of the ground completely. Some survived, but most did not.Seedling cedar trees with plastic cages.

I had to do some looking but I did finally find the two missing cages scattered away from this planting area.

One of the cages had been carried nearly 50 yards away from this hillside. We are now back to being cagey.

Hiding In Plain Sight

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.

YoungBlack Angus calf standing in a bunch of seedlings and and old stump.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 Disappointing

Anyone who has spent any time in the forest with Mike has heard him comment, “Take a little sashay out into the woods.” Loggers, mushroom pickers, hunters and visitors to our woodlands, have heard the comment.

I cannot think of any other grown man to use the word sashay as he does. To me when I hear sashay, I think of ladies in dresses to their ankles and a pretty little bonnet on their head, with a debonair escort to promenade around the town square.

To Mike, sashay means getting off the main roads, animal trails, and skid paths, and into the heart of the forest. A sashay to Mike could be a trek 10 minutes to several hours, from a scramble up to a ridge or a 3 mile pack.

After 40 years together, I noticed that I picked up on the word also. I was out in the area where we had planted cedar trees a couple weeks ago and mentioned to my right-hand-helper that we needed to take a little sashay over to the trees to see if the elk had been in grazing on the seedlings.

To my surprise, we found that not only had the elk come in to nip off all the tender ends of the trees, some of them were completely pulled out of the ground and left for dead.

A cedar tree plug had been pulled from the ground by grazing elk.The spots where they had been pulled from left gaping holes in the earth while the roots dried from exposure to the elements.

All around the planting area, big old elk footy prints marred the ground and the vegetation that had been growing there was torn up or trampled into a muddy mess.

We had taken a chance on planting these seedlings without benefit of cages to protect the trees, but this destruction was a lot more than expected.

More on cages will be coming up in new stories.