This year we are trying to be more organized and systematic with our tree planting and seedling production. We enjoy buying trees and seeds a lot and hope to do better at taking care of and keeping track of all the things we’ve bought and planted.
There’s an excellent guide to reforestation called “How to Plant a Forest: The Principles and Practice of Restoring Tropical Forests” by Forest Restoration Research Unit of Chiang Mai University. We hope to incorporate many of the practices mentioned in that guide at our project. The guidebook used to be available on their website as a free download. Their website doesn’t seem to be working anymore, so I’ve put a downloadable copy here!
According to the guidebook, these are essential features of a tree nursery:
- shaded area with benches for seed germination, protected from seed predators by wire mesh
- shaded area for potted seedlings, with removable shade for hardening
- work area for seed preparation
- reliable water supply
- lockable storage for materials and tools
- fence to keep out stray animals
- shelter and toilet for staff and visitors
We converted an old unused piggery that the previous land owners built into a new nursery.
The tables are a great improvement! The seedlings are now easy to see and organize. In our old nursery, the seedling bags were on bare ground. The roots of some seedlings would go through the bag and into the ground! It is hard to extricate the seedlings from the ground once this happens.
There are a lot of nursery practices described in the book that we want to incorporate into our nursery. Things like keeping better records, how to harden off the seedlings before planting them, and using root trainers.
According to the guide, these are the basic steps in tree planting:
- Stake out the area where you will plant the seedlings. Mark the spots with a 50 cm stake. Space the seedlings randomly or 1.8 meters apart.
- Distribute the seedlings among the people planting. Use baskets to carry the seedlings.
- Dig the planting hole using a hoe. The hole should be 2x the volume of the container. Clear the weeds in a 50 to 100 cm diameter circle around the planting hole.
- Remove the seedling from the bag making sure to keep the root ball intact. Slash the bag if necessary.
- Plant the seedling. Make sure the root collar is level witht he soil surface. Fill in with loose soil. Press down with the palm of the hand to make it firm.
- Add fertilizer.
- Cover with mulch.
- Water the seedling.
- Replace the stake.
- Clean up the site and remove the plastic bags.
The bamboo stakes and flags make it much easier to see where the seedlings are planted. This will help a lot in keeping track of the newly planted seedlings. Another option to making flags is to paint stripes on the stakes.
These simple improvements have made something that was already fun even better!