What do we do on the tree farm?
Well, we are here to give you an idea of what it takes to get a tree from a seed, into your yard.
We get our trees when they are about five years old, from Jonathan Schmidt Nursery in Oregon. There the three trunk has been growing for about five years and grafted onto a stable root base, which has been growing about three years.
We make orders in June for a shipment to come nine months later, usually about 500 at a time. This may sound like a lot of trees, but for nurseries - we are just a small farm. When we get tree off the truck they are bald root. We try to get all the trees into the ground in less than a week. We don't want the roots to dry out, but we also don't want to them to rot in the damp straw, where they are stored.
Below is a picture gallery of planting season. It starts early in the spring with tilling up the ground where the trees will go, planning how to group varieties together and moving the drip system so that planting doesn't harm the watering system.
When the trees arrive, holes are drilled. Trees are placed in the holes and filled back with dirt, then water follows. We will these hole with water, then back fill any remaining dirt onto the tree. In the span of an hour, a hole is drills, tree placed and it is back filled.
The next few weeks will be going back to stake each tree, put on a tree guard, and flatten the earth out in the tree rows. We lay out drip irrigation systems to new trees or sections so that we can get them watered, as needed. Some springs we get enough moisture that we don't need to turn on the irrigation system. Keeping trees watered in the early spring is imperative to the life of the tree as it wants to be ready for growing season. Tree guards are placed so that animals are not tempted to rub, naw or chew on the trees. The wildlife has plenty of other trees on our property to nibble on - so we don't feel bad at all preventing them from marking up our tree farm trees.
Summer consists of spraying weeds, putting down fertilizer, watering and trimming the trees. We trim trees to help them grow efficiently and to make sure they are healthy. Trimming trees is a hands on job, where we are able to spent time with each tree individually - which one might say is our way of practicing quality control.
Fall we are selling trees, putting out 'stink' to keep the deer out of the trees and preparing for digging. The deer tend to love the small trees, fragile bark and bend of these young trees on the tree farm. Unfortunately a deer rubbing their antlers on these young trees will kill them. So we mitigate this by putting out 'stink' and making sure trees have guards on them. There are plenty of trees in the shelter belts around our farm for these deer to rub on - so have no fear, they are still able to mark territory and get the summer fuzz of those antlers.
The final major season the tree farm is digging season, this usually happens November through February. We do it while the trees are dormant, if we would dig during the summer the tree would go into shock because they are pulling and pushing sap in and out of the roots every day. In the winter, all the sap is in the roots. It is a short and furious season where we try to get 20-40 trees out of the ground, into ball and burlap and into a cozy bed of wood chips in one Saturday. We are also selling during this time, though we are able to sell trees at any point during the year.