Fall Tree Planting is Here!
Now is time... Finally, as our temperatures have dropped, good amount of moisture in the ground, and the trees starting to change color, we can resume lifting and shipping of many of the trees.
What is really fascinating to watch, is how the trees respond to the seasonal weather. In July, it is typically really hot and dry, with warm night time temperatures. Then comes August, also warm, but we seem to get a rash of storms which creates a flux in the 'hot-dry continuum'. This often sparks a pre-fall response of some trees like the Aspen and Birch, where some of the inner less energy-efficient leaves turn yellow and drop off. In the tree nursery, we push this by keeping the tree beds and containers drier, which tends to push the early seasonal response. Then as normal, temperature and moisture jump all around throughout August and September, which makes the trees slow down their growth.
Then somewhere between mid-September to mid-October, there is more rain, cooler night temps, dramatically so compared to the previous fluctuations, yet with warm days. Hence, we have Autumn as we know it. But watching the trees respond is interesting, as more and more of the leaves, not just the inner less productive leaves, but all of them start to turn colors. And more tree species start changing as well. As this signals the time where the last bits of sunlight-energy are being stored in the roots, trees can then be lifted and shipped in this pre-dormant or lightly dormant condition. Granted, it is always preferred to ship trees when fully leafless and dormant, but many (hardwood) tree species can be handled earlier.
Keep in mind, that Fall tree planting is not for everywhere. We like to say, in general, the northern half of the country (basically Plant Zones 1-5) should not plant in the Fall, just because the window of opportunity is short. Even planting a lightly dormant tree, although it would sit fine, it may still be frost-heaved or damaged by the forth-coming colder weather. If in doubt, wait until late-winter or early spring.
On the other side, the south half of the country (Plant Zones 7-10), we generally say - "Plant, plant, plant..." and "Plant all winter!". Zone 6, is a middle-ground, can be Ok for Fall tree planting, it depends, more of a case by case basis.
Planting trees in the Fall can work out, it really comes down to your area, the type of trees, and timing. But we are excited that many of our trees are ready or getting close to that point where general shipping can resume...
Are your trees growing up wild and undisciplined? Is their bad behavior due to an unruly upbringing? No... actually, in reference to trees, we’re referring to growth rates.
One of the most asked questions we get has to do with "how fast a tree will grow". That is actually a very difficult question to answer (accurately), as are growing children... granted they are completely unrelated subjects. But tree growth is a complex set of inter-related factors, influenced by its environment, similar to children and the home, but still unrelated topics...
As every tree growing situation can be highly variable, it is next to impossible to accurately guess how much a particular tree will grow over a given period of time, in a specific location, although some generalizations can be made. If the chart is visible on your screen, then it will help add some light to the growing situation.
For most trees, from a fast growing willow (like our Ameri-Willow hybrid), an oak, quaking aspen, or whatever, seedling growth starts out relatively slow. As the tree becomes established, the momentum of grow speed increases, where the juvenile years typically have the fastest growth rate. How many pairs of shoes has your kids grown out of over the past several years? There is some similarity there, as juvenile life-forms of all types have their fastest rates of growth. Now for trees, this is where the species and/or genus will largely dictate the capacity for growth speed, secondarily influenced by the growth environment. Then after they "release their wiggles", so to speak, trees reach a mature phase where the rate of growth greatly slows down.
In general, and over the broad spectrum of tree species, it is the willows and poplar trees (including the aspen) that have the fastest "capacity" for juvenile growth. Oaks and spruces, are generally slower growers during this period, but individual species like the Pin Oak and Norway Spruce have a fairly fast early growth potential. All trees will go through a growth cycle similar to the bell-shaped curve on the graph. The shape will vary as per species, but this is typical of all growing things. "To every thing, there is a season."
Given each tree species has a capacity for increasing growth rates during the juvenile years, it then becomes the growing environment that will enhance or detract from the trees ability to reach its potential (puns about our school system aside). The basic primary factors include, sunlight, water and nutrients, and climate.
Some trees grow better in full sunlight, others grow their best with some shading. A fast growing birch tree may grow three to four feet a year during juvenile its period in full sun, but with increased competition for sunlight (shading), that rate will drop significantly, even to the point of little or no growth at all. The Red Maple and Tulip Tree on the other hand, may benefit from partial shading during the early years, where their growth rates might not slow down. This is when knowing your trees and your growing conditions makes a huge difference in potential growth expectations.
Water and nutrients certainly are key factors in all trees and plants, no big surprise. Ever plant a Redwood in the desert? How about planting a pine tree in a swampy location? This is the extreme in what we refer to as "off-site" planting, but the moisture regime has a lot to do with growth rates. Too little or too much water will obviously hinder growth. Either they dry up, or they drown... The nutrients in the soil are vital to growth, and if they are limited, this too can greatly influence tree growth.
Since the climate in this country varies in every situation and to the extreme, it is easy to understand how climate will influence the tree growth rate. If your growing seasons are long, like in south Florida, then you can expect a willow to better reach its juvenile growth potential, than in Minnesota with its relatively short season. Tree growth rates are not just species related, but also time influenced. Short season, shorter period of time for a tree to get growin’. Longer seasons, longer opportunities for growth.
All of these conditions, in combination, will determine how fast a particular tree will grow in a particular location. There are a number of other factors that can influence a trees growth rates, like soil conditions, animals, string-trimmers, etc. But for a general understanding of growth rates, we hope that answers some of the tree growth questions.
Juvenile trees... "can’t live with ‘em, can’t shoot ‘em."
Remember 911 - Support Our Troops!
September 11th, 2001... Never forget... What a shame and a tragedy, but a "wake-up call" for US all! We live in a fallen world, and it will get worse as "the end of all things draws neigh..." And to hear that our Rat of a president wants to put a shrine to "his" people where Americans gave their blood? As we say in the South, "lynch 'em". In the meantime, there is Hope and purpose.
This is a Great opportunity for All of US to help our countrymen fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other parts of the world. "Our" freedom and safety is being bled for by our brothers, husbands (and wives), our friends and neighbors. How many people do you know actively serving? Can you help?
How nice it is to sit here safe and sound in our homes, surfin' around, and checking out sites like this... but, please consider and give thought to those who are making it happen. No games, no hype, this is not about sales... it's about wanting to do something for our troops. There are a number of things we can all do to help, and we just ask that you consider doing something...
If you can, pray for our troops, their safety, their families here, and that they come back home soon. Also, pray for our leaders, that they make "good" (or better) decisions with foreign affairs. Then, there are a number of practical ways you can help. When you're at a restaurant or the airport and see a serviceman (or woman), buy them a meal and offer your thanks. Get involved in a local organization or church that has a program doing something hands-on. Check out the web for organizations that directly serve them (there are a bunch), and find a spot where you can help. There are care-boxes you can do, and many of these have care-package programs that can help you serve. Remember, Christmas is not that far away, and most of our troops will not see their families (again).
Do you have a few extra dollars? Will you consider donating time if not money? Not on this webpage, but there are others places that are set up to support our troops with your donations. Go plug: "supportourtroops.org" into the search box below and go to their site, and learn more about them, and how you might be able to help out. Or, use the search box to connect to some of the other webpages that can help you help them.
We too are trying to do something... and putting page together, we are hoping to encourage others to get involved one way or another, and providing a direction to find out more places that are hands-on. We are greatly saddened that the wars are dragging on and on... Nobody wants this, but the reality is that they are there fighting to keep us safe, fighting to insure our freedoms. We should all care! Help do something... One of our little slogans is, "Even one small seedling can grow into something big". The same might be said for even taking a small action to help our troops. Even one small prayer or action might make a huge difference in the life of a soldier.
Like the Giant Sequoia trees, let us stand Mighty and Strong with our troops and each other. Reach out and reach up...
He is that fallen lance that lies as hurled, That lies unlifted now, come dew, come rust, But still lies pointed as it plowed the dust. If we who sight along it round the world, See nothing worthy to have been its mark, It is because like men we look too near, Forgetting that as fitted to the sphere, Our missiles always make too short an arc. They fall, they rip the grass, they intersect The curve of earth, and striking, break their own; They make us cringe for metal-point on stone. But this we know, the obstacle that checked And tripped the body, shot the spirit on Further than target ever shot or shone.
-- Robert Frost, 1936
When Best to Ship Trees?
Generally, most trees, fast growing trees, slow-growing trees, and especially evergreen trees, are best shipped from October through early Spring. Best after they become dormant in the Fall, and outside of this time period, they can be iffy...
Take delivery early! Temporarily plant the trees in pots (or clumped together in a single pot) and hold them in the garage or other protected area until 'your' conditions are ready to plant. This way, the trees arrive dormant and are held in dormancy pending your climate warming up. Then they are better acclaimated and immediately available!
Think about it... plan on it. Any questions, do ask us...
Trees Need Shade Too
Aside from the current flooding, did you know that trees need shade too? Newly planted trees, or those planted in the last year or so, can greatly benefit from partial shading.
We plant some trees with the hope of them growing up to shade our homes, thereby making it cooler inside during the summer blaze, as well as saving money on air conditioning, or reducing the greenhouse effect, etc. Good reasons, all of them, but in order to get a newly planted tree estblished,a often they need help. Shading can benefit a young tree, giving it that little extra "umph" when it most needs it - the first season (or two). Even the "fast growing" trees, like the willows and poplars, can benefit from shade.
Consider, a newly planted tree doesn't have the roots system firmly or widely established. Hey, just planted, the soil is loose, the roots are in a wad, and its already wilting... The newly planted are just not ready to handle the blazing days to follow. They can and they will (or are suppose to), but they need some help. If not correctly planted or/and watered sufficiently, wilting is the first sign of stress. Longer term stress can cause the limited root system to die back, which can summer-kill the tree. Watering alone "can" do the trick, but overwatering is almost as bad as underwatering (the roots can't breathe). Limited water, very warm soil surface temps, or roots that can't breathe, contributes to the stress on the 'lil $5.95 tree.
We are big proponents of having a thick mulch layer around newly planted trees. Mulch helps to moderate soil moisture and temperatures, but in many cases, mulching may not be enough. Shade helps. The idea is that if you can block the mid-day sun, which causes the most stress on the tree, that will add some relief to the roots and leaves, even for a few hours. The mid-day is when the sun is most intense, and typically when the humidity is the lowest. This causes stress on the roots and leaves, as noted.
So, what to do is add some shade. There are several ways to do so, so just get creative about it. One of the simplest ideas is to drive in a stake (wood or pvc) on the sunny-side, just outside the tree planting hole. Attach a piece of wood or cardboard to the stake. "Wa-la..." partial shade. There are other materials or structures to use for sure, but the goal is to reduce the amount of full blazing sun for a time during the mid-day. You can build a cage , a tower, or whatever, but the tree getting too little sun, is almost as bad as getting too much. Keep it simple, keep it cheap.
Having a partial sunblock for a couple hours during the hottest part of the day, during the first season (at least), the overwhelming stress on the newly planted tree roots will be greatly reduced. Reduced stress will result in that fast growing shade tree to survive its first summer, allowing it to grow on its way to shading the house.
Controlling Deer and Other Animals
One of the most asked questions has to do with deer. Deer are beautiful animals, and really enjoyable to see... as long as they are not your yard, eating your trees and plants... We too are plagued by these large brown vermin, as well as possums, raccoons, armadillos, skunks, raccoons, rabbits, snakes of various kinds, squirrels, rats, mice, gophers, and even bears.
We rather not apply the 30-30 solution, but rather we try as best we can to live with all of these remarkable creatures. The one exception are the rattlesnakes... we have no tolerance for them! But the question is always, how to keep the deer (in particular) from smashing down the wire fences, sleeping in the tree-beds, and providing them with too many free meals...
There are many people that offer many ideas, and some work, some don't, but deer are not fooled for long. Outside of shooting them or letting them run wild, there can be some sort of control. Deer are most actively in your yard "seasonally", typically when their natural food and water sources are limited. And if deer are having a problem finding food, then chances are good that other animals will view your plants will hungry eyes.
There are deer-resistant trees and shrubs, typically the acidic tasting conifers among other plants, but when they are hungry, they will eat anything, and nibble everything else. Bloodmeal works sometimes, various deer repellents work at other times, and having a dog run around the yard eager to chase anything that moves gets to be annoying after a while.
The best solution is to fence the yard or at least those key and critical plants. The willows and poplars can be very tasty, so having a little fence around them until the trees are big enough to resistant major damage, might be the best plan. Deer are harder than most animals to fence out because the jump so well. A deer can clear an eight foot fence, and they can sometimes jump taller barriers than that. But a fence is the best and primary way to keep them out.
You can cover individual trees or shrubs with netting. The black plastic netting is available at many gardens centers, and its cheap. This might be best when the deer are particularly interested in a few trees, prized specimens, or new plantings.
Many people have luck with repellent materials. A wide variety of these are available in garden centers. Most of them are not appropriate for any type of food-producing tree or plant, so don't... Repellents work one of two ways: by taste or by smell. Taste repellents are usually non-volatile, so last longer. Don't use taste repellents on anything you plan to eat, because you won't like it either. Smell repellents are volatile, so must be reapplied every couple of weeks unless heavy rains prompt you to apply them again. Change repellents every couple of weeks for the best effect.
Which ones work the best is always difficult to say, one may work in one area, but not somewhere else. The idea is that if the deer don't like the way it smells, they re less inclined to devour it. And if it tastes bad, then they tend not to nibble it twice.
Blood meal, which is sold as a soil amendment or fertilizer works, but it stinks. Sprinkle it around the soil and reapply after a rain or every few days. Perfumed soap, like Irish Spring is effective, as are moth-balls. Place some of it near the plants you want protected. There are sprays made with garlic, rotten meat or eggs, fish emulsion fertilizer, Tabasco sauce and red pepper, etc., all have been successfully used.
Overall, the first defence is the fence around the property. Fencing is typically the most certain way to keep animals out, but they are intrusive, can be expensive, and they do need maintenance or repair at times.
Although electric fencing sounds cruel, they are humane and effective for keeping the animals out. They give a highly unpleasant (but harmless) shock when touched. They are best used as part of an existing fence, and usually to keep animals from climbing over or burrowing under.
With electric fences, its important to control weeds growing under the electric wire. Anything that touches it, will reduce the charge. Electric fences should be left on most of the time, turning them off only when you are working around them.
One of the most innovative approaches to wire electric wire fencing is to train the wild animals using the carrot and a stick thinking. String a single strand of electric fence 2 to 3 feet above the ground. Every 3 feet, tape on a piece of aluminum foil about about 3 inches by 3 inches square. Put some peanut butter on each piece of foil. The peanut butter attracts the deer, who then gets a (harmless) shock and they learn to respect the strand of wire.
Keep in mind that deer are intelligent and adaptable. It is more difficult to keep them out of your yard after they have become used to browsing there. The effectiveness of the fence also depends on how hungry they are. Very hungry deer will brave all odds and overcome unusual obstacles to get a free meal. You actually have better luck controlling well-fed deer who are just exploring. Either way, they learn your tricks, so change the repellents and obstacles periodically.
The problem with deer is that they are excellent jumpers. A fence should be at least 8 feet high to keep deer out. And that gets into some real challenges trying to construct it. However, deer are not good at jumping both high and wide. A fence only 4 feet high can keep them out if it is also 4 feet wide. Make a slanted fence by planting 7-foot fence posts at a 45-degree angle, so the top is 4 feet from the ground. The fence should slant away from the plants you are protecting. String woven wire fencing along the fence posts. Make it doubly effective by stringing an electric wire at the top.
The simplest and least expensive deer fence is made of plastic netting, sold at many garden centers. Usually it comes 8 feet high, it can be strung between trees and bushes as well as fence posts. Use this type of fencing for a quick, temporary barrier. Either add this on top of an existing fence, or go with the double-wide fence idea. Since the material is relatively cheap, and very lightweight, you can easily try it.
Use fencing with repellents, and that should keep the deer out... at least most of the time.
Controlling Other Animals
Now many small animals may try to climb a fence, but most are not good jumpers. You can deter possums, skunks, raccoons, and many other climbing animals with a floppy-top fence.
Make the fence of chicken wire or woven wire fencing 4 feet wide. Fence posts should be 2 to 3 feet high. Fasten the wire so the top 18 inches is loose and pull it slightly toward the outside. This makes the "floppy top" that keeps animals from climbing over. As they climb, the top bends back under their weight, keeping them from getting over.
A strand of electric wire along the top of a fence will also keep animals from climbing over.
An Apron fences is good for digging animals like rabbits and dogs. They can be kept out with an apron, which is an extension of the fence about 2 feet wide that extends along the ground. Either bury the apron or peg it down tightly to the ground. Burrowing animals will try to dig under the fence at the vertical portion and be deterred by the apron.
Small-animal fences can be built with both floppy tops and aprons to deter both climbers and diggers.
And for digging animals, like pocket gophers, armadillos, and mice, that burrow through the soil, bury a portion of the fence. This can work to protect individual trees, small groupings, or lines (like for privacy screens). Use 1-inch mesh or smaller depending on the critter involved. Bury a foot to two feet of fencing around the outside of your planting area. You can protect raised beds by lining the bottoms with chicken wire or hardware cloth before filling them with soil. This simple measure is very effective at avoiding problems with burrowing rodents.
Underground perimeter fences may be more trouble than they're worth, and may not keep gophers out completely, but it is still overall the best way to keep most of the animals out. Gophers can dig several feet deep and make their burrows, and when the fencing is not working, then periodic flooding will get them out (at least for a while).
On HGtv, there was a show about repelling gophers and moles, and they had some interesting ideas. As with deer, there are many methods used to control these pests, including, traps, poisons, flooding the tunnels, fumigants (including using car exhaust piped into the tunnels), and hunting. Each method has some successes, varying costs, as well as other concerns. But on the show, they went with the idea of repelling these pests.
Moles make shallow, typically surface tunnels, as they forage for grubs, bugs, and worms. For the most part, they help aerate the soil and are relatively good. Gophers on the otherhand are very bad, since their tunnels are deep and theyeat roots of everything we plant. And for both, using granular Castor Oil seems to be very effective. Where you would find it pre-made is anyones guess, but it is simply a mixture of castor oil, soap (either laundry or dish soap), and corn meal (granulated corn husks or similar starch carrier can be used too). Spread the mixture about 1 pound per 1,000 suare feet of ground, water it in, and that is it! You can use lines, put some in key spots, or any type of application you want, its versatile. The granular castor oil method is safe, natural, cheap, and very effective!
And if nothing works, then you might contact your local or state wildlife department to see if they have a better solution.
One note about mosquitos... They are everywhere, in virtually every climate and habitat. They need water to live, so the drier areas of the country are far less buggy than those that live in the swampy of wetter areas. Here too, there are many types of control methods, each with associated costs and effectiveness.
One of the more unique and very wildlife-friendly ideas to try is Bat-boxes. There are many species of bats native across the country, and mostly they feed on insects. It was noted on the HGtv show that bats can eat about 6,000 mosquitos a night! If you will put up bird-house like structures in several trees, that will help provide habitat for bats. Now the holes (or slits) for the bats should be smaller than you would make for most song birds, otherwise the houses will be occupied by birds (not undesirable either). But the idea of bats (and many species of birds) are better at getting rid of mosquitos and other bugs than we we are. Again, its safer, cheaper, and supports wildlife. You can contact the Audobon society, your state wildlife department, and other sources for more information and how to build (or where to buy) bat and bird boxes.
Many of the questions asked these days has to do with tree-trimming. Evergreens in particular are challenging. One question we had was in regards to Colorad Blue Spruce. Our reply was as follows...
Thanks for asking about the pruning Blue Spruce. Pruning is pretty easy, and the results can be very pleasing. Evergreens are often more challenging, like where to begin... Years ago in northern Idaho, there was a very interesting Blue that had been trimmed regularly for years. It was a very tight solid cone shape. It was a solid blue all around, very nice...
How to start with your trimming depending on the current shape of the tree, and what you need it to do... If there are wide spreading, broken/dead branches, or hanging over the neighbors fence, then that part of the trimming is pretty simple. But if just sitting in the open, no major deformities, then pruning to-shape can be done conservatively. It all depends on the shape and the need.
For example... say the lower branches were hanging over the fence, or, they were broken (as from a storm), or just not alive. You cust these back, or all the way from the trunk. If you cut back to the trunk, make the cut as cleanly against the trunk as practical. This will heal-over naturally faster. Now when cutting branches, as the weight pulls the branch down, it can tear along the trunk. To prevent this, make an under-cut near the trunk, about 1/4 the thickness of the branch or 1/2-inch (whichever is greater). then make you top-cut a bit further out than the under-cut. As the weight of the branch pulls down and starts to rip/break, the under-cut should stop or limit any damage to the trunk. In this manner, even larger undesirable branches can be removed from most any tree. Use a tree-paint to seal the exposed wood. This will help prevent insects and disease problems.
To do more of shaping versus major trimming, just cut back some of the growth, the leaders (or main outward shoots), but leave the smaller side shoots. This will help direct growth from outwards, to the sides. This will start to fill in the air-spaces between the branches. Once or twice a season, as new growth comes out, cutting the leader-shoots will change the shape of the tree. This works best with smaller trees naturally, but with a ladder, even larger trees can be trimmed-to-shape somewhat. The larger the tree, the more difficult and maybe impractical this will become... And for creating shapes, like animals, topiary, and such, it comes down to small trimmings of the lead shoots that will help create the shape desired. Never top the trees unless you have an absolute need (like a power line overhead), and keep the lower branches. Lower branches adds growth to the trunk, and until the tree is large enough to be strong and a desired size, then leaving the lower branches is desireable. When the tree is larger, and in perhaps a lawn setting, removing the lower branches, making a clear trunk, can be very nice, and functional (like getting the mower around the tree).
Just with trimming, go conservatively, and cuts larger than half-inch or so, put a tree-paint (or any sealant) to cover the wound. That will help preclud
Last Update: 10/04/2010
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