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The Giving Trees

May 6, 2012

Phase One of this project was to plant at least 50 of the 250 nut trees the first spring of 2012. A small first order of 56 bare root nut trees (walnut, heartnut and pecan) were ordered from Grimo Nut Nursery and delivered right to our door in 6 days via ground transport. I was expecting a parade of specialty wrapped baby trees to arrive with FRAGILE stamped or marked all over some kind of heavy duty crate. Instead the courier rang my door bell and handed me this very plain box with no indication that sleeping trees lay within it…

When the little cardboard coffin was opened, festive twigs greeted us. Colourful, wet, shredded paper was all that kept these dormant nut trees content on their trans-Canada adventure from Ontario to British Columbia.  

Generally the trees had lots of root hairs and structural roots that radiated out in all directions. There were a few questionable specimens. Each bare root was inoculated with mycorrhizal fungi prior to planting. The product we used comes in a powder form that you sprinkle over the wet roots and has 8 species of fungi in it. The goal is to colonize the root zone with beneficial root fungi and help the tree absorb nutrients and thrive. We spent anywhere from 30 – 50 minutes planting each tree (you do the math)! A large-scale commercial operation would probably roll their eyes at our very manual and hands on approach. Lots of digging, sifting of parent soil material; amending; watering; tamping; photographing; documenting; mulching and just observing each and every twig that went into the ground.

We’re fortunate to have deep soils in our fields but the the pH and nutrient levels are typical of gulf island soils: acidic and depleted. Our planting hole amendments included slow release lime; mushroom manure; root inoculant and positive energy. My arborist-partner-in crime insisted that we had to stop if we were feeling tired or cranky. Apparently it’s no way to plant a tree! I didn’t argue with that logic.

When the 56th bare root tree went in we almost collapsed from exhaustion. The field is starting to become something other than a barren expanse of green grasses and weeds. The giving trees have arrived!

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