December 20th – Solistice-short light with one day following another of soil soaking rains! These are prime days for planting new trees. Why, because new saplings go through a transplant stress and need moist soils and low light growing conditions to adjust to change before they put on new growth. Whats more, their root systems will anchor well in wet soils and this enhances their stability against wind. In fact, these trees will have several months of wet weather before the late spring dry-out. I cannot say that these potted conifers breathed a sigh of relief as they were planted, but if they had such a physiology, I’m sure I would have heard their collective sigh; and mine too since my project has much invested in plants ordered and a survival goal for their success!
My plants were purchased from Black Diamonds’ – Hanging Gardens Nursery, a “go to” business for many restoration projects in south King County. The Middle Green River Coalition assisted me in this effort by providing the delivery of my trees. Today, to assist my efforts and offer tips, I had staged a volunteer planting event but lacked a showing of planters, perhaps due to the cold rains, so onward and forward I went planting trees.
This is a picture of a western red cedar –Thuja plicata with a healthy root system. Before planting, I loosen roots and remove potted soils- better that local organic soils are used for the new tree. With the tree nearly bare-root I place in a sufficiently wide and deep hole in which I formed a miniture dome to help spread the roots. I then physically spread the roots as a fan and pack them with local soil working from the edges inward up to the stem of the tree. The idea here is to create an anchorage with roots guyed in different directions to support the tree from falling over. Have you ever seen a planted Douglas fir that falls over on its own weight after 5 years? It’s a sorry condition, but may have been poorly planted and therefore it’s future is not easily remedied.