Tree Seedlings March 2018
Over the last 8 – 9 years I have been intensively planting tree seedlings in our 25 acre forest in Mantorville Minnesota. Most of the time I have purchased the seedlings from various sources. When we first moved to this location in 1992 I planted maybe 100 or so Pine, Spruce, and Fir trees for wind breaks in the old alfalfa field which we built on. I purchased those through the Olmsted County Soil and Water Conservation District, who got the trees from the State of Minnesota Nurseries. You can purchase directly from the State Nurseries, but you need to purchase in lots of 100 or 500. So for the small landowner the SWCD is the way to go as they sell in lots of 25.
I have worked at growing my own seedlings using the basic method of putting a seed into the ground and seeing what happens. I did protect the seeds in the ground with chicken wire to stop squirrels but that was it. When the small seedlings popped out of the earth I would dig them up and put them into fabric pots – either 10″ or 12″. I would then take care of the pots in my tree nursery area with easy access to water. After a couple years and a few feet of growth I would transplant from the fabric pots into a permanent location in our woods.
This year I am trying a more sophisticated method to grow seedlings. I have purchased 18 cell RootMaker trays, a heat pad, and UV light. I collected acorns in the fall of 2017 from various strong trees in Minnesota and Wisconsin. I then bagged them with peat moss and potting soil lightly moistened and put them in the mud room frig for a few months. In mid-February I put a Burpee seed soil mix into the RootMaker trays and put 2 acorns per cell (both red and white oaks). I did 4 trays and rotate them under the UV light/heat mat for 12 hours and in front of south facing windows during the day.
The small pots you see above are were I am putting the extra oaks when a cell has both acorns sprout. In my next post I will discuss the RootMaker trays and other details of what has worked so far – current data April 3rd 2018.