300 seedlings – plotting a white spruce mini-forest

On a dusty Friday evening in mid-April we tree-spade planted 200 spruce seedlings from the Berrien County Conservation District tree sale.  The rows and spacing were premarked and this took about 4 hours.   Although some of the seedlings are 18″ tall the tree flags will become critical in a month or two when rapid weed growth can be expected.  This year we intend to mulch transplants that look healthy in May to reduce the amount of mechanical weed control and provide some protection against dry weather later in the summer.  Spruce grow rapidly once established, and could reach 30′ in height in 25 years.

The week of 700 trees

OK, so maybe it was only 690 or perhaps 710.  The recent silence of this blog has been the result of a couple of months of planning, then tilling, and most recently planting the majority of the Bluecircle hilltop with white spruce, white pine, scotch pine, and Douglas fir seedlings.  As an experiment a shady area was planted with Canadian hemlock, and 25 tiny white cedar have the potential (I hope) of maturing into a property line hedge.  A dry mid-April has been followed by a few heavy rains, but an actual inventory of the “likely to survive” in each planting will have to wait at least a few weeks.  Things that worked well this planting season were the excellent size and condition of seedlings from the Berrien County Conservation District annual tree sale and the well-prepared field thanks to neighbor George’s hours running our 5-foot tiller.  Once the rows and spacing were laid out it was easy to plant an average of about 50 seedlings/hr with the tree “spade” or  planting blade.  What did not work out so well was an effort to clear an area of roots and small stumps with a “potato” plow that lacked a shear pin – the cross-member angle iron failed and the resulting bends broke several welds.  Breaks in the drive chain on the tiller have also been problematic, resulting in significant time in the barn doing repairs.