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Paul was right... again.

 
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I've always questioned the tap root concept on trees grown from seeds. Not so much that the tap root dies for transplants, but whether or not it even exists for most fruit trees. I had a batch of seeds in my refrigerator that had been there for about a year. It was a mixture of apples, plums, apricots, and pluots. I had forgot about them, and my wife was about to throw them out, but I decided, just for kicks, to stick them in small peat pots to see what happened. Low and behold one shot up after 3 days. I'm not sure what it is since I didn't mark the pots, but it's some kind of stone fruit.

Anyway, after 4 days I decided I need to transplant into a larger pot. I can't really go straight outside with it because we have freezing weather coming this week, and yes, I know that November is not the greatest time to be starting trees from seed. Just one of those things.

While transplanting into a larger pot I peeled the peat pot off of the plant and low and behold, there was a 4" long tap root curled around inside the peat pot (the little tree is only about 3" tall right now). I would have taken a pictures for other doubters like me, but I didn't want to stress the plant too long so I immediately put it into the larger pot.

Now the dilemma is what to do? I'll probably just nurture the plant through the winter mostly indoors and loose the tap root. It does change how I will think about growing trees from seed in the future though. You win this time Paul.

 
pollinator
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What to do? Grow that one for fun. And plant some outdoors for real. Now that you know it works. Plant it in the cold it's ok it will stay dormant until spring. Just remember where you planted it.
 
author and steward
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I am just now seeing this!

It's nice to add a bit more validation now and then!
 
pollinator
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But how do you plant trees from seed outdoors?

"Go away!"

"Yes, your Highness.  How shall we go away, your Highness?"

There are a few factors I don't quite know how to handle, and some I've figured out but there might be better solutions.

Marking where you put them--just a plastic sign won't do it.  I would put a circle of hardware cloth, to protect a bit and to be an unmistakeable, universal sign for "there's supposed to be something here, don't cut it down."  I could also see just marking the spot with stones, but that isn't quite as definitive and I might accidentally step on it still.  A whole buttload of stones might be required.

Rodents--they do like their seeds.  I would gladly apply some Holzer bone sauce...only I do not have any Holzer bone sauce.  So, I am thinking some Livestock Guardian Dog influence may help things here, but I don't know for sure if his influence will really protect seedlings.

Deer--I'm pretty sure they won't want to be around Rudolf either.  Hm.  I don't have truly deer-proof fencing, but it's enough that a deer has to make a decision to hop it and get into Rudolf's domain.  (Rodolf is not related to any reindeer, lest there be any confusion.  Unless he is what he eats...)

Babying/greenhouse super-season-extension--I think just the microclimate creation will be all it gets, and then other than that it's STUN (sheer total utter neglect).  Side-note--I was disappointed that Mark Shepard's advice to pepole wanting ot plant a chestnut tree was to start it in a plastic bucket with hardware cloth, I don't know if this is what he means by STUN, gotta read his book, but I wouldn't call that total neglect, I would call that at least 3.99 of plastic, $1 hardware cloth, some labor digging it in, etc.

I really really like un-planting (see my thread on un-planting black walnuts) but the only trees unplanted here are oaks.  Which are Oak A., but I want more of them, everywhere all at once, especially in the paddocks, and they were only starting up in the area that already has a bunch of trees (kinda an ornamental conifer savannah area).  

N-fixers--I have planted a few honeylocusts, still not sure what the jury has decided about their n-fixing capacities but the Permaculture Orchard farm seems to be working well and I just have a good feel about honeylocusts, plus Mollison used them in one reclamation project.  At any rate, I am going into a field that has had alfalfa and still will have a lot of it, but needs a lot more diversity.  I have put in some radish and fodder grains and buckwheat, for starters, but if I plant a whole lot of support species from seed, no way I'm marking each one with hardware cloth.  

Any more thoughts on how to implement this?  

Lastly, if you were going to use some seedlings to help jumpstart and cull them later, which species would you focus your funds on?
 
master steward
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I had a go planting some apple pips last year. Not quite STUN, I'm planting into a grass field so what I did was turn a turn a turf over (like I do when planting out baby trees) to clear a patch. Then I sowed a few seeds into the soil and scuffed them in a bit. I then put a few cut off plastic pop bottles (which I had previously used as vole guards) and pushed them an inch into the soil in a few places. I was wanting to see whether the protection made any difference. I chickened out though, when the little seedlings appeared. I moved a few of the shelters to protect more of them. Not to waste the tiny trees that remain, I shall transplant a few to give them more room. I was happy with the experiment and may well try i again with less precious seeds.  
I think it depends on the tree as to how big you can let the roots grow before they are likely to be damaged by moving. My soil is so shallow that taproots don't give the trees much advantage anyhow.
 
gardener
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I would start with a lot of seeds, then plant in a marked area, then see what came up.  Maybe 100 seeds in a one foot square plot.

Make one plot per desired tree, placed in the forever location.

You will see how well this works.  If you get 3 tree sprouts, you got 3% germination.  If you get 50 little tree sprouts, you got 50% germination, and NEXT year you can seed at a rate that’s less wasteful.

Or, just direct seed in your plots this year.

I used to have an apricot orchard.  The trees were ~70 years old, an excellent variety, great flavor, blushed red, big size. I wanted to start more trees.  I had plenty of seeds.  I set aside a place in my garden, and took care not to disturb it.  I had lots of tree sprouts.  The year I had woofers, one of them chopped them all out!  This was after I had weeded that area, identified it as a research plot which they were NOT to disturb, showed them the seedling trees…. and set them to weeding (hoeing) nearby.

Might be I told about this and other woofer adventures in the “volunteers that make you go hmmmmm” thread.  That’s a great thread if you have time to read it, and want to glean some pointers for what to do and not do!

I guess marking the plots is pretty important for the first couple years.  I have spent plenty of time thinking about it, how did he do that after I showed demonstrated etc…. Perhaps he backed as he chopped, and obliterated them with out even knowing it!

But a tiny chicken tractor type box might work, or surveyor tape or flagging on sticks?

But mark the whole  area until the trees are big enough to tie flagging on!
 
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