Let’s Grow a Tree Nursery
Once you nurture a tree to maturity you start an ecosystem. Trees harbour many forms of life. They provide shade, air conditioning in the form of humidity and temperature, shelter by breaking up wind and protection from the harshness of the elements - so grasses and all plants can in turn be protected and flourish. They drop leaves, branches, fruit, pods, and bark which provide food to nourish the soil beneath them not to mention animals and humans who feed off them. The grasses and other plants attract birds and small animals. They in turn become food for larger animals so that if one looks the plethora of biodiversity consequent upon trees you realise how important they are. They take in (sink) carbon and give out oxygen. Look after the tree and the tree will look after the rest. You will be growing a ‘first line of defence’ against desertification, land degradation and creating bio mass which will ultimately change rainfall patterns!
You will be ‘growing time’, something no-one can retrieve. By looking after a small tree nursery you are allowing a tree to grow up in a safe, watered place for a year. By changing it’s bag once you can grow it to four years, and twice to 10 years.
By planting a four or ten year old tree it has a great start, and you have saved four to ten years of growth for a people and the environment to benefit from the tree.
You have to plant the tree with its ‘Food for Life’. This is a metre square hole filled with top soil and vermicompost. You will have established it for life, in some instances another 100 years. If you plant a four year old fast growing tree, in 10 years you will have a 14 year old tree about 10m high and with 60 more years to live, so you and your grandchildren will all benefit.
The Tree Nursery
A small tree nursery could look like this, 10 x 10 square with one species in each row. That is 100 plastic bags 20cm diameter filled with worm compost and top soil. Put seeds of 10 different seeds in each bag for germination to take place.
Alternatively ‘rescue’ a germinated seed after the first flush of rains when it is still depending on it’s cotyledons for food and water. It is viable for a short time without soil or water. Put it into your packet of prepared soil and you have rescued a tree, keep it in your nursery for a year.
First lay a quality black plastic as a ground sheet covered with soil 20cm deep, so the roots don’t go down too far. The perforated black plastic bags go on top of this soil. Give your nursery water twice a week.
Part of the fun is recognising the tree and getting to know the names of the trees.
After a year if you have not already planted your tree prepare a larger bag of soil and transplant it into this. This will secure the tree in your nursery for the next 4 years. A 40cm bag will hold a tree for 10 years. If you are selling your trees the older ones are valuable because you are essentially ‘buying time’.