Skip to content

January Planning

A common thought is that winter is not a busy time for tree farming… in reality, winter is a very busy time.

Every chinook that blows in means checking for water, shovelling snow on to pots where its melted off, and cleaning up branches that break off from our shelterbelt poplars.

Winter is also the time where we have to order seedlings. The planning that goes into ordering can be very time consuming. From reviewing what sold best, to reviewing what grew best – investigating new additions, and deciding what quantities to get.

This year I may have gone a bit overboard with the number of new species and varieties to get… Its always a challenge to hold me back, much like a kid in a candy shop! Over the next several weeks I will be posting some of the new varieties to our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts so be sure to check them out and let me know if something catches your eye!

Another big winter project is reflection, research, and planning.

In reflection, this was a challenging year. Drought, heat warnings, and more. It really brought to light the challenges of growing in pots, the need for simplified irrigation, and the need for investment around the farm.

To address these challenges, one turns to research. Methods to combat drought and heat, methods to raise our seedlings in ground instead of pots, and ways to invest in our needs without spending much.

As part of this research, we reviewed images of our tree farm from the past 22 years.

Namaka Ridge in 2000, prior to the tree farm being in operation.

A couple things stood out to us. First, prior to it being a tree farm, our spaded tree field was all pasture. Second, there was some other kind of production, perhaps fruit for wines? It would explain the number of crabapple trees that were crammed in.

Namaka Ridge in 2010, in full production mode

A couple things stood out in the 2010 image, first, the entire spaded tree field was planted out in 2 batches – all 9,000 of them within 5-7 years. This means that all 9,000 would become ready to sell within a short timeframe with no more being planted out to cover the years in between. That works out to a minimum of 12 trees that need to be sold every day during the spading season. Considering the two of us can manage 8 in a day, it was unrealistic for the previous owner to do 12/day all by himself – not to mention the efforts involved for sales, marketing, and customer service. The other thing that stood out? That there was an estimated 12,000 trees in production in total! Thats a lot of trees, and just shows the potential output of this property if we can invest the time and resources required.

With this new information, we start the planning phase. This year, we are going to try planting some of our seedlings in soil in a grow out field. This field will have quite tight spacing, 18” for slow growing trees, possibly 3’ for the faster growing trees. These trees will only stay in this field for 2-4 years, being transplanted out into either pots or a different field with larger spacing for further growing out. Transplanting will slow the growth down but will provide a better quality tree because of the root pruning that will occur during the process.

To assist with this change, we plan on making a special tree spade called a potter. Its basically just a tree spade that is shaped like a pot. They are available commercially but we do not have the resources available to buy one, but we do have the skills to make one. Its quite a complicated unit for what it is, but I don’t really fancy digging a thousand trees by hand when they are 3-6 years old!

Hope you found this update interesting! Until next time, keep on growing!

Oh hi there 👋
It’s nice to meet you.

Sign up to receive awesome content in your inbox, every month.

We don’t spam!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

15 − one =