12 May How to Establish and Manage your own Tree Nursery
The difficulty of growing trees from seed and their increasing cost makes it important to discover methods to ensure seedling survival and growth. Nurseries give the fundamental control of moisture, light, soil and predator protection and permit generation of solid and tough seedlings. Here are a few steps you can take to make sure your little seedlings grow up to be viable trees.
You should choose a decent site first. A perfect area would be a place close to the house so the nursery is easy to visit and well taken care of, with great soil, access to water and where water does not stagnate. Do not set up your seedling nursery near diseased or infested plants.
At this point clear the site completely. Remove stumps, roots, rhizomes and stones in the space. Leaves and other non-wood substances can be made into compost. Design the beds and build a simple hotbox with plastic sheeting.
Some vegetation surrounding the nursery can give shade however man-made shade structures can also be used. Have a go at making a fully encased structure of one bed. Build a shade roof to give partial shade. The roof should be easily moved depending on light conditions.
Then you must set up the germination beds. If numerous seedlings are to be brought as up in a reforestation project, it is for the most part easier and less expensive to raise them in a seedbed and transplant the bare root seedlings without soil. This strategy works best for tough species with a solid taproot, mahogany for example.
Bare root seedlings are simpler to transport and plant than potted seedlings. Nonetheless, their survival is lower. Small, fragile tree seeds or those with low germination rate and are best sown in a seedbed or seed box and after that transplanted to pots, if required.
For the seedbed, dig the soil, break chunks of earth and remove remaining roots and rhizomes. Amend the soil and make a raised bed. Design it narrow enough that you can weed it without having to walk on the seedbed. Include compost and river sand and blend well. Sand relaxes the soil for better waste and simple uprooting of the seedlings. Level the bed and using a stick, make shallow furrows. Sow the seeds and cover with 1 to 2 inches of soil.
Enable adequate space for the seedlings to develop to the small sapling stage in the event they are not planted at optimum height (around 12 inches for most pines). If you will be transplanting the seedlings when they are still small, you can sow the seeds much closer together.