We began the 2016 season emptying the greenhouse, cleaning it as best I could and rebuilding the benches inside. We now had twice the greenhouse space, three times the bench space of the original greenhouse and room for our part time employee Karen and me to both work at the same time.
Usually in the spring we find the White Oak and the Bur oak ready to go and the rest of the oaks and other seeds get started as soon as they are exposed to temperatures between 60 and 80 degrees. For reasons that I still don’t understand the White oaks had virtually disappeared from the both the trays that we had put in the ground and those that we had stored in the cold room. We had a few Bur oaks ready to go and very little else.
We purchased 50 White Pines and planted them in 3 gallon pots. We also acquired 25 Paw Paws which we planted in pots. There were several Osage orange fruits on the ground and I planted a tray of the seeds inside. Several trays with small seeds were left to sprout before planting.
Over time a few of the Oak verities as well Hickories sprouted at a time. Hundreds of White Pines and many Redbuds as well as about 20 White Spruces sprouted and were transplanted. None of the Frasier Firs reported for duty. Eventually we had a respectable crop even though it wasn’t the bumper crop we had hoped for.
This year we added a second part time employee, Michael. While neither Michael nor works very many hours they both add to the total work that gets done. Michael took responsibility for clearing the weeds from a group of trees that had gotten out of control.
We next needed to find a new space to plant these trees in their Rootmaker bags. We chose a section of the prairie restoration that was offset from the main prairie and mowed a spot about as large as a football field. After mowing we had a thick mat of grass on the ground a combination of years of annual growth and the newly mown addition. Since prairie grass burn vigorously we looked at the possibility of burning the grass. Unfortunately there was substantial water under the grass and we waited for it to dry. The weather didn’t cooperate, it rained a couple of time a week. Just enough to keep thing too wet to burn. Finally we gave us and raked the grass away from the spots where we were planning to plant trees. By this time we were quite a bit behind schedule A local farmer came in a drilled the holes for the Rootmaker bags. Michael and Karen went to work planting the bags and then planting the tree ne the bags while I went to work building a fence to keep the deer and rabbits from destroying our new plants.
Since we only used about 40
We got almost all of our 450 trees planted by the time it got cold enough to put a stop to us.
Our seed gathering this fall has been enhanced by a partnership to grow trees from seed gathered in a nearby city and growing them into trees to be planted back in that city. Also a neighbor that has provided some seed in the past has been a source to add Dogwood, Arborvitae, and Tulip trees. A customer of ours is starting his own tree farming operation. We are working on complementary products and have complementary resources.