Tuesday, March 3, 2015
3-3 continuation of 1-3 0n 3-1
It troubled me slightly that in the last post I had ignored part of the question of what to do with the Solstice tree. In the book, 365 Ways To Save The Earth, they mention buying a potted tree and putting it in the ground after the festival is over. I felt that there needed to be a more in depth description of this process and that it would require an entire post to describe how to do this successfully. If you live in a climate like mine, planting your tree is a great idea, but in practice it can be a bit more difficult. First, if you go outside to plant the tree around the Solstice, you will find that the ground has become solid and that it is not possible to dig a hole. This can be solved by digging your hole in the fall and making sure that it is large enough to fit the root ball of the tree you plan to bring in to your home to decorate. Ideally, you will also need to keep the dirt indoors so that once the root ball is installed in the soil, you have some workable soil to surround the root ball with. When planting a tree in winter, special care needs to be taken that plenty of water is available for the roots before the root ball freezes. Moisture loss continues throughout the winter and conifers are most often lost due to dessication because they continue to lose moisture throughout the winter and by the time you see browning needles, it may be too late to rescue them from the desiccating effects of the dry winter winds. Second, if you do get them in the earth with enough moisture, having loose soil around a tree can be a bad idea, especially if it dries out, because burrowing creatures love to be able to dig easily, especially if the rest of the ground is frozen. Water the tree in well and perhaps even flood the soil around the root ball a few times as it freezes up to keep critters at bay. Mulching the earth as well is a good idea because once the fill freezes, it needs to stay frozen and not go through freeze-thaw cycles which can heave the root ball back up out of the surrounding earth. Third, and perhaps most difficult is, when you use a live tree indoors in winter, the root ball has to stay frozen. If the roots thaw then re-freeze, the tree can be killed by breaking dormancy, then being re-frozen. The landscape artisans that I know urge people wanting to try this method to insulate the root ball and only keep the tree indoors for a short time. The shorter the better. If you have watered the potted tree well in the fall, as it was freezing, keeping the root ball insulated can keep the roots ball from thawing somewhat. Putting the whole shebang in a cooler, or wrapping it with several inches of cardboard or newspaper will also help, but even with plenty of insulation around the potted root ball, you can only keep the tree indoors for a couple days before it starts to thaw out. Getting it situated in the hole you dug the previous fall needs to happen relatively quickly, so this is going to limit your enjoyment of the tree while it is indoors. One thing that can allow you a bit more time is if you have an unheated space like a breezeway or if you would be able to put the tree just outside a window, where you could enjoy it from outdoors. In any case, remember that the stress of going through a freeze-thaw cycle is difficult enough for a tree, but that if the ground is not prepared or the tree is not put into the soil quickly, all of your extra work may be for naught. In any case, good luck with your tree if you do attempt to do this. If you pay attention to these important steps, your efforts will be rewarded.