2017 at Dexter Tree Farm started in March getting the greenhouse thoroughly cleaned up and reorganized. We moved some of the outside benches into the greenhouse to increase our ability to start trees before the weather warmed up enough to keep them outside.
It’s a good thing that we added space. The fall of 2016 produced a bumper crop of White oak acorns that started growing while they were still in the cold room. Bur oaks and Black oaks also grew in large that started growing while they were still in the cold room. Bur oaks and Black oaks also grew in large numbers though nowhere near those of the White oaks. In the fall we planted 150 White oaks, 100 Bur oaks, and 50 Black oaks that will be ready to sell in 3 to 5 years.
We increased the variety of trees grown. Some very supportive neighbors have a yard full of wonderful specimen trees and they invited us to harvest seed. We added two different Dogwoods, Osage orange trees, Honey Locusts, and Dwarf oaks.
We now have about 200 trees in pots that did not get planted in the ground. They are in the greenhouse and I am hoping that at least some of them will survive the winter.
This year I was away from the tree farm for 6 weeks in the fall helping my wife celebrate her 70th birthday. Our part-time employees did a yeoman’s task of planting over 600 trees while I was gone. I was away for most of the seed gathering time of the year.
In addition to some part-time employees we have a few fellow travelers/partners. One of them, Frank, has a plan to harvest seed in his home town of Livonia, and use it to grow trees that he will sell to the residents of Livonia. I have agreed to do the growing part and he has proved to be a dependable assistant. While I was traveling he gathered seed from my traditional sites as well as several new sites that he found in Livonia and elsewhere.
When I returned from my travels I had several unfinished projects to finish before I could attend to the seed that had been gathered. By this time many of the seeds had dried out and I worried that they were no longer viable. Frank and I sat down one cold morning and examined each type of seed and used the tree books on propagating trees to judge our chances of rescuing each type of seed. The result is 15 tree and shrub seed types in the refrigerator that we hope will sprout in addition to 10 seed types that we have in trays in our cold room,