Saturday, December 6, 2014

Regreening, reforesting, reorcharding

My street has been selected for a road widening project.  There was plenty of talk for three years or so, but when the state actually sliced some real estate from the front of the lots and paid the property owners, it became apparent that it was no longer just talk. The first project was to clear away all the vegetation that was in the way of the roadway-to-be.  After a few disruptions with cable and water lines, we are now left with a knee-high erosion fence and nothing screening the road traffic.  Slowly the big piles of oak and pine are being disposed of (in a perfect world, that would all be turned into biochar) as we wait for the next step, which is probably the arrival of an army of road graders. 

But among all this horticultural mayhem, there is opportunity.  My neighbors and I have frontage behind the erosion fence that needs to be planted.  There is no time like the present, so I have taken it upon myself to start a neighborhood tree planting program, and maybe in the time it takes them to complete their project, the trees of my tree project will have grown up enough so that the semis passing by on the road will once again be screened. 

I've been ready for this, what with all the seedlings and cuttings I have started.  I still have 4 bald cypress in pots from the 300 that I started in 2012, and now that I know how to get good germination from them, I should try another mass start for 2015.  I also have volunteer crepe myrtle, sweetgum, juniper, and Bradford pear, along with the usual pines and oaks.  While everything is dormant and the ground is wet, I will get busy and move these volunteers from where I don't want them to where they are needed. 

This is also a good time to be taking cuttings and getting them to root in preparation for spring.  If I give my fig and plum and pomegranates a good pruning, I can come up with plenty of cuttings to try and root.  One of my apple trees even has a sucker at the bottom, so I will have to see if I can carefully coax it into a life of its own, away from the mother tree. 

One thing I won't be doing is paying $20 a pop for bare root trees from the garden center of a big box store.  That may be an alternative for busy working people who have no time to invest in tree propagation, but if you have the time and inclination, it is much more rewarding to do your own tree propagation.  If you don't know how to propagate the tree you are interested in, a good place to start learning how is the Purdue University horticulture site.  They cover a fairly wide selection of trees, and if you check them and a couple of other agricultural extension sites, you can come up to speed on propagation pretty quick.  Give it a try and don't be discouraged.  I took a dozen cuttings last winter from a Krauter-Vesuvius plum, and only 3 of them actually rooted.  But that's better than zero!  This winter I am going to try that trick again, but maybe try some new tricks to see if I can up my average.  I've already got spots picked out that could use a nice purple plum tree.

In a few years, my neighbors and I will once again have a green, forested road frontage, only this time with a lot more variety and edible fruit.

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