With such a long and deep cold 2014 winter, our planned tree planting got off to a rocky start. Since my fields still had snow until April, it took a while before the ground was dry enough to work with. But, more importantly, the farm that I contracted to grow most of my seedlings is in northern Vermont — the ground didn’t even thaw enough for him to dig out the trees until the very end of April. I had to to keep rescheduling my planting helpers until the weather finally caught up with the calendar.
We ended up planting 1350 trees, mostly Balsam Fir and Fraser Fir, but I also planted a few White Spruce and Blue Spruce seedlings as well. The seedlings come wrapped in burlap packed in sawdust to keep them moist. We root prune the seedlings before planting and use an auger to create a planting hole in the soil prepared the year before. Our trees are planted in straight rows to make mowing possible. The rows are 7 feet apart and in each row, the trees are 6 feet apart — a 6×7 grid that allows about 1,000 trees per acre. On the 7 foot spacing, I can just squeeze the big tractor and mower down the line. As the trees grow, I’ll move to successively smaller mowers. On some of the oldest planted blocks of trees, it’s nearly impossible to get any mower between some of the trees. Though, in that case, there’s not much grass growing there either.
In the midst of planting, we got so much rain that we had to delay planting the last 300 trees. To help the seedlings make the wait, we dug holes to hold about 25 trees at a time and covered them up with soil — this is called healing bare root trees in. After all of the trees have been planted, we wait until the buds begin to break and they start to grow. Each of these new seedlings spent 4 years in a nursery before we transplanted them and they’ll probably be here for another 7 years before being harvested.
Thanks so much to all of my helpers: Willow, Atlanta, Rich, Karlene, Marlene, Bill, Jacki and Chris. I couldn’t have done it all without your help! And, you wouldn’t believe just how hard my mom worked to help get all of these trees planted, I guess I know where my farmer blood comes from!