SEEDLING STORAGE - It is important that seedlings be planted as soon as conditions are favorable, i.e. adequate soil moisture and soil temperatures (at least 40-45 degrees F at a 4-inch depth). Ideally seedlings should be planted within 10 days of receiving them. If you need to store the plants this may be done for several weeks in a cooler or refrigerator. The ideal temperature is between 33 and 35 degrees F (40 degress maximum). Plants should be checked once a week to determine whether there is fungal growth on the stems, or if the plants have broken dormancy. A snow bank or root cellar may also be used for short term storage.
GROUND PREPARATION – In preparing the ground for planting it is essential that competing vegetation be removed from the immediate planting site. This may be accomplished by scalping the area 3 inches deep in a 3 foot diameter around the prospective site. When clearing vegetation be careful to avoid damaging the site and its resources.
Herbicides can also be used, but you should exercise caution when applying chemicals to avoid damage to soils, fish, water quality or wildlife. If you choose to use herbicides, be sure to get professional advice. State and Federal regulations require that pesticides - including herbicides - be applied in strict adherence to label directions. Vegetation may also be controlled with fabric mulch mats that are available for purchase from our nursery. It is also a good idea to form a trough around each plant so rainwater can collect in the depression.
PLANTING - Exposing seedlings to sun, wind, low humidity or freezing temperatures before planting is detrimental to seedling survival. It is vital that seedling roots be kept moist until planted. At no time should the seedlings be allowed to sit in the sun. Toxic gases could form in the plastic bags and kill the seedlings. Remove only one seedling from the bundle at a time and only after the hole is dug. Make sure seedlings are upright and that that ground is firmly packed to remove any air pockets, but not compacted around the seedling. The rooting media (the top of the root plug) should be covered with ½ inch of soil. Finally, if possible, water the transplanted seedling with 1-2 gallons of water. Make sure the root plug does not become exposed after final watering.
The planting hole can be made with any implement that makes an adequate size hole, such as a hoe-dad or shovel. The important thing here is to avoid compaction of the soil wall, which would prevent root growth into the surrounding soil. Once the hole is made, fertilizer, such as Best Tab 10 or 21 gram tablets (20-10-5 analysis) can be placed in the hole about 2 inches from the plant roots. These tablets are available from our nursery.
ANIMAL DAMAGE - In addition to competing vegetation, you may also need to control animal damage. Wildlife and domestic livestock can cause damage by feeding on newly planted seedlings. Protective measures such as tubing or animal repellents may be used at the time of planting. Rigid seedling protection tubes are also available for purchase from our nursery, such as the one pictured at the left. Secured with bamboo stakes, these are an affordable option to protect your investment.
It is our desire to make your planting project as successful as possible. If you have any questions or we can help you in any way please be sure to contact us.
Photo provided by: Wendy Sienknecht
Taken in Tekoa, Winter 2009-2010
Left; Curlleaf Mt. Mahogany, extracted from 10 cubic inch tube.
Center; Idaho Fescue, Festuca idahoensis in 10 cubic inch tube.
Right; Snowberry. Symphoricarpos albus in 40 cubic inch containers.