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Gardening Planting Decision
Old 06-13-2010, 02:49 PM   #1
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Gardening Planting Decision

I want to plant some heather and some Christmas tree seedlings.

I can either do it now, which means that I'll need to make sure they are watered all summer, or in the fall when the rainy season begins. (I'm in far northern coastal California).

Advice?
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Old 06-13-2010, 03:42 PM   #2
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It is usually best to plant tree seedlings in the late fall or early spring but survival is generally better with early spring planting. If you are only planting a few and can tend to them, now is fine since you will be missing a growing season if you wait. As you mentioned, you will have to water them for a few weeks if you plant them now (and want good survival). I have no experience with heather.
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Old 06-13-2010, 03:44 PM   #3
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I live on the east coast with hot, humid weather and long dry spells in summer. So, take anything I say with a grain of salt. However, I try to never plant any perennials by this point in the season - too dry and too difficult for them to get established. It seems to me that no matter how generously I water them, mother nature does a much better job come fall. So, I'd wait. I've had good success planting perennials in the fall.
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Old 06-13-2010, 10:09 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
I want to plant some heather and some Christmas tree seedlings.

I can either do it now, which means that I'll need to make sure they are watered all summer, or in the fall when the rainy season begins. (I'm in far northern coastal California).

Advice?
How big are the trees, are they nursery stock in a gallon or 5-gallon pot, or those very young trees in a test tube? The smaller the plants, the more inclined I would be to wait until fall. It's so easy for the root ball of a small plant to dry out completely on a hot or windy day.
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Old 06-14-2010, 07:43 AM   #5
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All experience is based on Midwest environment. I usually plant about 50/100 trees per year. Oak, Yellow poplar, sweet gum, walnut, norway spruce. I buy 1-2 foot bare root stock via internet for about 50-65 cents each. You can get up to 6 ft but the cost goes up to about $5-6. I have bought from state of Ohio and private companies. I have found early spring works best for me (and the tree). Less watering and they get time to grow roots before winter. I put a little root tone on when planting. Success rate is 50-80%. I plant them 2 foot apart in 20-30 foot rows, maybe 4 rows, then put chicken wire around them to keep the critters from eating them. It also helps with weeding, watering and finding them. I transplant to final location when belt high. It also keeps me from mowing them down if I have them scattered all over.
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Old 06-14-2010, 08:57 AM   #6
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Thanks for the info. I decided to definitely wait until fall to plant the heather. I think I'll plant a few tree seedlings now, because they cost about $1 each, so if they die, it doesn't matter. Occasionally I get the urge to garden, so I want to take advantage of it and plant something.

Yes, they are the little trees in a "test tube." Since we have a lot of fog and drizzle in the summer, they may actually have a chance of not drying out.

Jay, how is it that you can plant up to 100 trees every year?
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Old 06-14-2010, 09:23 AM   #7
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I think you could succeed with both but don't wait any longer. This is based on once having lived & gardened in far northern CA & being a meteorologist. Keep them watered & mulched. Make sure the heather has a nicely acidic soil that is not too fertile. You live in one of the few areas where it is not too late.
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Old 06-14-2010, 09:38 AM   #8
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Jay, how is it that you can plant up to 100 trees every year?
I live on 8 acres. 100 trees planted 2 ft apart only takes up about 450 sqft. Losses can be 20-50%. 3 hours to prep site, 3 hours to plant. I then give them to anyone that is interested when it is time to transplant.

I envy your location. I worked 51 weeks a year to spend 1 week among the redwoods for several years. I have taken the skunk train through the redwoods to Fort Bragg. I would crawl 3 miles on broken glass to have a redwood in my yard.
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Old 06-14-2010, 10:17 AM   #9
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I live on 8 acres. 100 trees planted 2 ft apart only takes up about 450 sqft. Losses can be 20-50%. 3 hours to prep site, 3 hours to plant. I then give them to anyone that is interested when it is time to transplant.

I envy your location. I worked 51 weeks a year to spend 1 week among the redwoods for several years. I have taken the skunk train through the redwoods to Fort Bragg. I would crawl 3 miles on broken glass to have a redwood in my yard.
You might want to investigate the Giant Sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum). These are hardier than the Coast Redwood, and depending where in the midwest you live, may be able to grow in your climate.
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Old 06-14-2010, 10:26 AM   #10
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Hi Al,

I have always had the best luck when I plant in the Fall. It seems that the roots thrive during the springtime, insuring the plant's survival during hot summer days. Of course, a cold frame-type covering will insure the plants living through frosty nights.

Of course, all this depends on how close to the ocean you are...you must be close to the coast to even think about growing heather!
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Old 06-14-2010, 10:30 AM   #11
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Make sure the heather has a nicely acidic soil that is not too fertile.
Yes, it's ideal for heather here, and I've finally realized that heather is the way to go here, and am going to replace all my rosemary with it.

Here's a shot of a heather that I took when we looked at our house in 1999:

neighbor from front garage corner.JPG

And here's the same plant (same angle) today:

Heather.jpg

and from another angle:

Heather2.jpg

The thing just grows slowly, and it's now about four feet high.

The rosemary, on the other hand spreads out quickly, and then dies back. I've realized that I need to cut it back, but the result is a patchy scraggly look:

Rosemary.jpg

So, out with the rosemary and in with the heather.
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Old 06-14-2010, 09:54 PM   #12
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Christmas trees? Yeah, right...
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