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planting a temporary tree nursery

 
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Would love any advice for a temporary seedling "planting" tomorrow. I got 100 bare-root seedlings from the state (TN) and need to get them into the ground temporarily, until we know exactly where they are going. The seedlings are mulberry, dogwood and native sweet pecan. We were advised to dig a trench in a cool shady spot, then plant them in small clusters, making sure to keep their roots from drying out before getting in the ground.

I wish that we were ready to give the seedlings their permanent homes now, but since we aren't ... I'd like to maximize the chances of as many as possible making it through this tough patch.
 
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I got 25 (actually 26) sweet pecan trees also from the TN nursery back in January.  I considered heeling them in for similar reasons, but ended up planting them in a different location where I could put them in the ground within a day of getting them. Some sources recommend to soak the tree roots in water for some time before planting them. I soaked the trees from the state in a 5 gallon bucket. When I ordered some additional trees from another source, their roots were way to long for a normal bucket, so I soaked them in the bathtub.

Off topic, but I would be interested in your impressions of the seedlings you receive from the state.
 
Erica Colmenares
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Hey John, thanks. I'll take some photos today when I unbag the seedlings. It's looking like a perfect day - not too hot, and cloudy!
 
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Erica Colmenares wrote:We were advised to dig a trench in a cool shady spot, then plant them in small clusters, making sure to keep their roots from drying out before getting in the ground.



I've had good luck doing this in the past, and actually have some muscadines waiting right now like this to be planted in a few days.

Like Ralph mentioned, I also try to soak mine before planting, as it seems to help reduce transplant shock.  By putting them in the trenches in clumps, you can dig up portions of them as you are ready to plant, without disturbing the other trees. If possible, I dig the ones up in the evening, that I'm going to plant the next day and soak them in a bucket of water overnight, but have also dug them in the morning and let them soak as I'm planting the others.

Sounds like you've got some great trees, happy planting!
 
Erica Colmenares
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Having the term "heeling" has greatly enhanced my google results. Thanks, John!

Steve Thorn wrote: By putting them in the trenches in clumps, you can dig up portions of them as you are ready to plant, without disturbing the other trees. If possible, I dig the ones up in the evening, that I'm going to plant the next day and soak them in a bucket of water overnight, but have also dug them in the morning and let them soak as I'm planting the others.



That helps me think about clump sizes, thanks Steve.

It's interesting that some of the info on the internets says not to soak, but some does. We don't have running water at our place, yet, so I'll take a bucket and at least give them a little time soaking.

I'm curious at why there are online recommendations to heel in the seedlings at an angle. Is that to protect them from wind? For us, that won't be an issue, I don't think.
 
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Erica Colmenares wrote:I'm curious at why there are online recommendations to heel in the seedlings at an angle. Is that to protect them from wind? For us, that won't be an issue, I don't think.



From my understanding, I think it's just a quicker way to do it, by just laying them in and covering the roots up. I usually do mine standing straight up, but the first few times I laid them down, and they did fine both ways.

With the soaking, I think really long term soaking, like maybe over a day, could have negative effects by smothering the roots, but a soak for just a few hours seems to help them get a good drink before being planted in their final home and to help get ready for the coming growing season.
 
Erica Colmenares
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For better or worse, we got the trees under dirt and wood chips.

These are the bare root mulberries. They looked the best of the three types.


These are the dogwoods, hard to distinguish from the shredded wood.


These are the pecans (green).


Here's the whole shebang, when I was done. Hoping to get them in permanent homes within the month, especially since the mulberry is already budding.

 
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