Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Lost in the Woods

Okay, so one can't get too lost in a forest of 6 inch tall trees.
But if I seem to have gone missing the last few weeks, it's because all of my time lately, on top of all of the usual getting-ready-for-winter chores around the farm, has been spent planting the 220 tree-lings that were shipped to me on a staggered schedule from Plants of the Wild.
The project has been taxing, to say the least.

Here I am rolling out the [very expensive] "Lumite" landscape cloth.
Because of the competition from invasive reed canary grass along the irrigation ditch, previous plantings have not been at all successful. Our hope is to eliminate that competition by first spraying the grass with Round Up, then covering the dead sod in the immediate vicinity of the new plantings.
One inch by six inch staples go in every 2 1/2 to 3 feet along the each edge, in the shallow trenches that will later be pushed in to help hold the cloth down. Each planting hole will also get a staple or two, and our abundance of rocks will be handy for weighting the center of the cloth between trees.
Sandy supervises.
Almost to the end of the first 100 foot run of landscape cloth.
I later decided it was faster and a bit easier to kneel on the center of the cloth and just crawl along, shifting left and right for the staples.
Either way, an awful lot of hands and knees work for this old body!
Tucking in one of the few surviving trees from an earlier planting.
(Please note the helpful photographers foot.)
At the bottom of the trench you can just see the new supply line for two extra sprinklers being added to the system to irrigate this section.
Here's where the new line [behind me] will tie into the old line [in front].
In the meantime, we hauled gallon milk jugs to water the newly planted trees.
This first section was just far enough away from the barn, around gates and fences, and it was just warm enough, that it was helpful to run the hose from the paddocks....
...and fill my watering bottles from the planting side of the fence.
The first "plugs" I got were Rocky Mountain Junipers.
Please note the blister on the inside of my left thumb!
After cutting an L-shaped slit in the mulch cloth and folding the flap back under a staple, I used an inch and a quarter spade bit to bore a planting hole. The 4 cu. inch plugs are supposed to transplant much better than bare root stock.
Sometimes we hit rock and I had to pull out my little planting trowel. But more often, it just got tangled up in the dead grass.
Into the hole
A little drink.
The 10 foot piece of conduit is to help me space the trees evenly.
It was sort of sunny on this first day of planting, but only about 40 degrees F.
Nearly done with this first 100 foot row.
Only 800 more to go!
I did wise up on the hole drilling, and ordered this "Garden Auger" off of Amazon (a little cheaper than their own site). Although it can't handle anything but the smallest rocks, it churned through everything else like butter! And because of it's two foot shaft, after I slice all the holes in the landscape fabric and add a staple, I can just walk down the row (upright) and drill hole after hole! My drill's charge will last 15 or 20 holes, depending on the soil, but quick charges while I do some other part of the project, or eat lunch, or some such. Then I can go back and drill some more!
It has a welded on blade at the bottom of the shaft. It also helps that the top of the shaft is flatted a little, to keep it from slipping in the drill's chuck.
Two weeks after the Junipers arrived, here came the shipment of Austrian Pines. Most of the trees are for windbreak and privacy screening, so the rows are primarily parallel. In one wider section, I wanted a little more of a "grove" look, so I mixed and matched the pines and junipers and will scatter in some shrubs come spring.
After the evergreens, I added fast-growing hybrid Idaho Poplars. They came still a little green, but have shifted to dormancy rather quickly once out in the chilly open air.
Where we used to live there were masses of quaking aspens. I also got a few of them for the particularly wet corners of this project. This summer photo shows one of the earlier planted ones that is actually doing pretty well. I love their colors in the fall!
Next spring I will add several areas of shrubs and wildflowers. For now, I'm pooped!
Al and I are truly blessed with the land with which we have been entrusted.
I must say that I am more than a little proud of how far we have brought it, from rough cattle pasture to horse farm,
in the seven years we have been here at EvenSong Farm.


  1. Looks like a huge amount of work! Love the picture of the barn - it looks very nice!

  2. That is very cool, but it looks like hard work. You're forgiven for not posting, but I hope you've taken lots of pictures of Jackson!

    The tree choices sound lovely. You're making me homesick for the lands where there's water and trees!

  3. Oh, EvenSong, what a wonderful post, and what a labor of love for the land! You well and truly should be proud. Thank you!