Thread: Big tree planting coming up!

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  1. #11
    Oak
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    RE: Big tree planting coming up!

    Well, I've been busy with site preparation. I went out today and sprayed where I'm planting trees for the shelter belt to kill the grass and weeds in a 3-foot diameter around where the trees will go. I will rent a tiller this weekend and till up the soil where the trees will be planted. I want to loosen the soil to about a depth of 12 inches where the trees will go.

    I purchased a 3"Wx24"L auger that can be attached to a portable drill to dig holes for the trees. This will be much easier than using a planting bar.

    I also am going to have my soil tested formally through the extension office, but I bought a cheapy test kit just to test the PH to make sure I wasn't making any major mistakes with species selection.

    At a depth of 5", the soil PH was 6.5 and at a depth of 20", it was about 6.0, so it is slightly acidic to acidic, which I had predicted. All of the tree species I am planting prefer acidic soil and all are adaptable to sandy, well drained soil.

    I have a feeling that the soil is quite low in phosphorus and potassium, but I'm going to wait until I get official results back before I apply any types of fertilizer to the soil. This may have to be after tree planting, so it would be broadcasting, but I won't be applying any nitrogen until spring.

    I cannot simply stand by and listen to people say "oh NO! Fertilizer is SATAN incarnate" because I've noticed that species that prefer more fertile soils are barely making it in our soil, and it is something that can easily and affordably be fixed on such a small scale (about 1 acre).

    I am simply going to ahve to make time to water the small trees, though I purchased some terrasorb to mix in the planting holes sparingly, especially for species that like moisture.

    Do any of you have suggestions for making the watering process easier?

    I'm thinking about getting a splitter that can split into 2 or 3 hoses so I can water 2 to 3 saplings at a time. I'll also construct a dam around the saplings to hold water better.. and I'm going to try and mulch.. but 150 trees is hard to mulch.. that's quite an investment.

  2. #12
    Oak
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    Central Indiana
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    RE: Big tree planting coming up!

    Every experience, species, and site is different, of course, but I've had pretty good success without mulching most of the nearly 1500 trees I've planted the past two years. I mulched around the smallest and slowest growing species--in my case, that meant a few evergreens (white pines, American arborvitae, Kentucky coffee trees, shellbark hickories, and some of my bur oaks. I use cheap mulch--i.e. straw or hay from my own field.

    Otherwise, I just mow around them as close as I can a few times a summer. Most of my DNR seedlings are now tall enough that I shouldn't have to mow around them next year. The smaller, slower growing trees are the exception and I'll mulch them again.

    In your case, with your row plans, and only 150 trees, I'd seriously consider mulch. Besides buying a truck load of the stuff, what other materials for mulching do you have available? Is there a cheap route? How much time are you willing to put in? Using old hay is cheap, but you have to do it at least twice a year because it isn't very good mulch. You're sticking old grass, complete with seeds, around your baby trees.

    Straw is better, but it still doesn't compare to wood chips. Do you have a wood chipper? I don't, but have used my relatives. I won't buy one because I've not seen an affordable one that will hold up very long. Everybody I know that has bought one has had it go bad within a short time. That might be their own fault--sticking tree trunks into the machine is not advisable!! LOL--so maybe the investment is worth it if you use it correctly. In the movies, serial killer can grind up bodies with them, but my family members break them with little sticks. Amazing the way that works.

    Your site preparation sounds good and should save you some work. I planted all of my seedlings and quite a few potted nursery trees the old-fashioned way: with a shovel. The Christmas before my first shipment of 800 DNR trees arrived, Santa Claus brought me a heavy-duty shovel from Sears and it has held up without a hitch. I planted those first ones on a very wet weekend in early March--it was barely spring, but we'd had a lot of rain and I worked in the muck. I was covered with mud, but it was easier to plant. I had sprayed rows earlier, then started with shallow holes to mark where I wanted the trees. That made it go faster once they arrived. My brother-in-law and sister-in-law helped me one day, but I did most of it myself. Well, a couple of blue birds kept me company, wondering what I was doing to their habitat. Poor things. Luckily, there is still plenty of field and I'll build them a house. The planting took the better part of two solid workdays to finish. The second day the sun was out, but the ground was still pretty wet. If you can time your planting for just after a heavy rain, you'll have it easier and the trees will like it, too.

    I hear good things about the auger and I bet you can plant those 150 trees in a day. Do you know how big they're going to be? Our DNR gives estimates, but they are ranges (you know, 6-18 inches) that cover a wide range.

    It is going to be so much fun! Take some pictures . . .

    I'm going to place my own DNR order for spring on Thursday. I've decided to plant a Norway Spruce border for privacy and I'm going to plant some more oaks or hickories. I'll have to make up my mind before I call or go ahead and get both!

  3. #13
    Oak
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    Jul 2007
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    Northern Minnesota-zone 3
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    RE: Big tree planting coming up!

    I have 25 white pine, 25 white spruce, and 5 red maple seedlings, which are in plugs. The white spruce will be around 11" tall while the others will be 5-10" tall.

    The green ash, silver maple, black cherry, paper birch, red oak, manchurian crab, lilac, and rugosa rose are 2-3' tall. The norway pine (red pine) are 7-15" tall and the bur oak are 18-24" tall.

    The guy at our SWCD office told me he used to get seedlings at good market prices, but the quality and survival was not that great, so now he goes for the established stock like what you'd get from Arbor Day for most hardwoods, and offers both transplants and seedlings for conifers.

    I realize the auger may not be quite big enough for the roots on these trees, but my strategy is to dig two holes and scoop it out a bit by hand with a garden shovel. I'll have people to help me, and I might just dig the holes the day before.

    I don't have access to a wood chipper, unfortunately, and I've been instructed not to use hay, as it can attract rodents. I'll be spraying the trees with plantskydd.. but that doesn't keep the mice away.

    I might just go and buy a scoop of mulch from a local nursery.. it's pretty cheap there. And this stuff is shredded bark, which doesn't blow away nearly as easily in the wind.

  4. #14
    Oak
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    RE: Big tree planting coming up!

    Sounds like you are going 'by the book' on this - good deal! That soil test will be the best thing you do

    With some of my stuff disappearing almost daily from rodents, if there's any way you can 'borrow' some cats or such, it'd help a lot. Not serious on that, but you know what I mean. A true smorgasboard is being offered up to them. I wonder if it would help to put a bunch of mouse traps out to drastically reduce populations this Fall. I see stuff here getting munched/removed for rodential use (assumedly), especially when temps do the first 'dips' to forewarn all the animals with relatively big cutting-teeth...

    A quick funny story: Early last Fall, I had a few bushes (mostly 'burning bush') have smaller branches disappearing each night, with cuts being made close to base of each branch/stem...no debris or evidence left on-ground at all. My oldest son was giving me some serious grief (would NOT move out) and I was almost certain he was messing with me as he knows my plants are 'sacred'. He was doing other stuff to 'hurt' me at that time, so why not?! But some of the cuts showed bifurcated bite-marks, so I was leery of outright accusing him. A few months into winter, I was helping him start up his project-El Camino and I popped off the air-cleaner lid and guess what I found?? A couple rat/mice nests composed primarily of what I had missing from about 50' away. Since then, it has been *war* against the rodents. I also lost dozens of potted trees (bonsai starters) in my garage that had a momma dog and a bunch of pups - mom did *not* tolerate anything near her, but she let something cart off *all* of my material that was in-pot. And this was in one night! No traps were sprung at all and I had surrounded the pots with at least two dozen traps - they do learn, it seems.

    If something looking to make nests gets a whiff of your plantings, good luck I am curious if there is a 'spray' (capsaisin spray? sp?) that could be made to thwart thefts like that? I have killed at least twelve *new* pocket-gopher 'dens' in last two days, so rodents are gearing up for winter here.

    Mulch will definitely help keep ground a bit less cold, and that's good for roots in first-year for sure. Cypress mulch does good at not blowing away as bad, but it practically never rots so it doesn't feed stuff very well. Fair trade-off, though, IMO.

    Alex

  5. #15
    Oak
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    RE: Big tree planting coming up!

    We have four cats. The female is an avid hunter, but we don't let her out much. We like song birds too much for that.

    One of the males is particularly good at hunting and catching rabbits and gophers, and while I shed a tear now and then for the rabbits, I'm ultimately glad for it. They're not really something I want on my land. Otherwise we seem to have a pretty low occurrence of rodents on our land these days.

    Also, in the 8 years living here, I've never seen a deer on our property. Our property sits between a 4 lane sunken highway with fences on both sides to our north and the Mississippi River to our south, which despite being rather small here (10-15 feet across), is sunken into a valley of heavily wooded/thick swamp land that has lots of convenient, tasty treats for deer.

    Also, the mature pine/birch/fir forest and field of recently planted prairie grass/flowers behind us tends to keep the deer occupied.. and there's a fence to cross there too to get onto our land... it's just not worth it for them... and with some plantskydd on every tree... I'm not that worried about them.

    I am still seriously entertaining the thought of lightly applying some broadcast bone meal and potash where I'll plant the trees and mixing it with the soil to promote better root growth before winter. I think this could be highly beneficial without hurting the trees or promoting green growth above ground.

  6. #16
    Oak
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    Re: RE: Big tree planting coming up!

    Quote Originally Posted by snowguy716
    I am still seriously entertaining the thought of lightly applying some broadcast bone meal and potash where I'll plant the trees and mixing it with the soil to promote better root growth before winter. I think this could be highly beneficial without hurting the trees or promoting green growth above ground.
    I'd agree, knowing you understand the 'amounts'/in-and-outs and such. Most species will only uptake so much nutrient even if more is present - damage is more from overconcentrated 'salts' and such from the 'general population' not following recommended or intelligent-guesstimate amounts, blah, blah. Even a simple phone call to 'Ext agent' folk can usually tell you if average soils there are inherently deficient or whatever.

    Most all of my rooted cuttings for pots get repotted with 'soilless' soil-mix with slow-release triple-phospate mixed in - no damage ever noted, and most everything 'grows-up' nicely (and usually much more robust than if grown in-ground) when all else is maintained within spec... *BUT*, the soils I make are mostly sterile/infertile but for a high-% of 'sifted' pine bark-mulch, and need ferting almost weekly - big, big diff from in-ground, and am sure you know what I mean Stuff hangs around a lot longer in most soils, so careful application is paramount... you seem to understand all of the concepts/needs, so go for it But not my general recommendation for Average Joe with little concept of the 'why/how' of specific ferts (as my disclaimer, hehe)

    My .02,
    Alex

  7. #17
    Oak
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    RE: Big tree planting coming up!

    Well, I'm really new to fertilizer, but I'm a fast learner, and I've been asking around a lot for advice.

    I'm the type of person that would rather apply separate nutrients to begin with and then fertilize down the road with a balanced fertilizer. (If people can be classified based on how they prefer to apply fertilizer )

    A guy that I purchased a few trees from told me that checking on micronutrients like zinc and iron are very important, so I'm going to do that.

    One thing that can tell you a lot, in my experience, is the quality of well water that you have. Our well is quite deep, and when we moved here, we dealt with a lot of sand in our water (not good for the dishwasher, by the way), and the water generally has a very clean, naturally soft taste, which leads me to believe our soil is low in sulfur, zinc, and iron... which might explain why our soil ph is pretty balanced despite being so sandy. Since our soil drains so well, I can't imagine it takes long for the nutrients to leach into the ground water (which is why I have to be very very careful!!)

    Meanwhile, if you go to my grandparents' house 12 miles away, they have heavy clay that is loaded with iron and sulfur, and even when softened, the water can still smell like rotten eggs.

    The guy also told me that things like zinc, when heavily prevalent in the soil, do not usually harm the trees, as they will simply take what they need.

    I am still not sure if burning is as high a possibility with bone or blood meal, since they are not synthetic, but I'll still be careful. Again, better to do several light applications and be safe... not just for the trees' sakes, but also for the ground water and the surrounding area.

  8. #18
    Oak
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    RE: Big tree planting coming up!

    I was out with the tiller all afternoon "turning over the prairie", and boy, was it hard work! In some spots, the tiller dug right in and chewed through the soil like hot water on ice cubes.. but then you'd hit a large clump of this fescue grass and the whole machine would lurch forward and die. I'm sure the neighbors got a kick out of that.

    The tiller did a great job of aerating the soil really well and not only grinding up the grass, but pulling the soil right out of the roots, so the grass will be good fertilizer!

    And the best (or worst) part of all... it was about 48*F with a stiff north wind, about 20*F below normal for this time of year! Now we're expecting frost tonight.. so I had to pick all my tomatoes and put them in the window sill! How fast winter doth come to my northerly disposition.

    I'm excited for the weekend, though. With the tilling going so well, now it's just a matter of applying the weed blocker mats and dropping the trees into their new homes!

  9. #19
    Oak
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    Re: RE: Big tree planting coming up!

    Quote Originally Posted by snowguy716

    , so the grass will be good fertilizer!

    And the best (or worst) part of all... it was about 48*F with a stiff north wind, about 20*F below normal for this time of year! Now we're expecting frost tonight.. so I had to pick all my tomatoes and put them in the window sill! How fast winter doth come to my northerly disposition.
    The grass may just make the soil a bit more acidic while it rots. Not unusual as grasses in composts can lean towards acidic side, but that just might help nutrient uptake, blah, blah. I know its not real good to use *just* grass for mulching/composting, but I bet there's a LOT of grass needed to make things too far out of balance.

    We too are getting some rather cool air suddenly. All my cuttings/rootings are inside nights so they do not think its Fall (just yet). Supposed to stay cool for around a week (highs in low 70's), then do the 'Indian Summer' bit, as usual.

    Glad you are so close to 'in-ground' - that is when the real work starts ->observation and varmint-control, as well as frustrations galore!

    Alex

  10. #20
    Oak
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    RE: Big tree planting coming up!

    Well, the soil PH is pretty balanced between 6.0 and 7.0, so a little added acidity won't hurt, I don't think.

    All of the species I am planting prefer acidic soil, and are drought tolerant.

    And I've embraced the "right tree, right place" idea. There are areas of our property that have a richer, dark top soil while others are pretty sandy and lighter brown right to the surface. Those areas will have red pine and bur oak planted, while the richer areas will be perfect for flowering crab, maple, and spruce.

    The power company came through on 4-wheelers yesterday because they were spraying vegetation under the power lines.. but not on our property!! I was standing out there when they drove by and they waved and drove on.

    The guy we bought the land from wanted it to be a tree farm, and planted trees for such purposes, with 90% red pine, but planted a few rows of white pine and black hills spruce... unfortunately, the white pine are all underneath the power lines and will have to go, eventually. That's why I'm planting lots of lilac and flowering crab underneath. And also why I'm planting lots more white pine away from the lines. They are my favorite tree, after all.

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