Well, we’ve gone and done it.
After much discussion with my daughters, we have made our “seed budget” purchase for this month, and it is trees.
We’ve been going through a number of websites for nurseries that supply cold hardy trees. Among the ones we want to get is a nut orchard collection, and the nursery that sells the one we’re looking at has scaled down the package deal, making it much more affordable. The collection, if planted spaced out as recommended, would cover 1 acre. However, some of the trees in the collection have the potential to reach 100 ft tall. That’s almost 40 feet taller than the tallest trees in our spruce grove! Which means we have to plant them in the outer yard, or even beyond, where the renter’s cows pasture, and we are just not going to be ready for that this year.
Beyond that, some of the sources we have been looking at just don’t have new stock listed yet. Among the things we are eyeballing are fruit trees, such as apple trees to replace the diseased crab apple trees we will have to cut down, pears, plums, Saskatoons, highbush cranberry, as well as different types of raspberries, etc. There’s only so much we can do in a year, though, and only so much space we are ready to plant into.
For this year, then, we settled on buying from Tree Time. They do a lot of shelterbelt trees, but also have fruit, nuts, berries, etc. They also come highly recommended. They are a reforestation nursery, which you can read about in their “how to order” page. Right from the start, they say:
We are a reforestation nursery that makes it easy for Canadians to purchase large quantities of tree, shrub, and berry seedlings at low prices.
Shop with us if you want convenience, selection, low prices, outstanding service, a guaranteed ship date, and high quality stock. Our customers tend to enjoy doing things themselves and watching their trees grow.
We grow our trees for maximum survival, not height or aesthetics. We mostly grow 1-2 year old trees because they have the best survival rates and are easier to ship in the mail.
We guarantee every tree we sell.
We decided to focus on two areas. First, creating our privacy barrier/living fence, and second, our first nut trees. Because of how they bundle their trees, the numbers we are getting are quite different than they would have been, elsewhere.
This is what we are getting (all images belong to Tree Time nursery).
When talking about what to get as barrier trees, we were thinking of setting these aside for another year, but the way various things have changed since then, we’re going for it.
This is a zone 2b tree, so well suited to our zone 3. They are good in poor soil, are nitrogen fixers, and their berries are edible and healthy. They can grow up to 15 ft in height, with a 12 foot spread, and should be planted at 3-4 ft spacing, so they will do very well as a living fence/privacy screen, as well as a deer barrier, once they grow big enough. Plus, they will provide food for birds.
These will come as year old, bare root trees. We will be getting their smallest bundle, which is five trees. Sea buckthorn requires 1 male tree to 4 females to produce berries, but at only 1 year old, there is no way to know what sex the trees are. It may be a few years before we can tell! The males do not produce berries, but hopefully, there will be at least one male in the bundle.
Where we plant these will be partially dependent on how far we go with this next batch.
This is one that disappeared from other sites we were looking at, so we were very happy to find them at Tree Time.
These are a super hardy, Zone 2a tree. Like the Sea Buckthorn, they can also handle poor soil and are excellent for attracting birds. They can grow to 18 ft in height, with a 10 ft spread, and should be planted 3-4 ft apart, so they should also make a good barrier and privacy screen. These will come as 1 yr old bare root stock.
We also got them in the smallest bundle of 30.
Which is triple what we expected to buy, when we first found these.
The area we planted the corn and sunflower blocks is where we intend to plant these. Right at the corner, along the north fence, the lilac hedge my mother slowly extended over many years, peters out. There is a gap there that the deer jump through. I am thinking that section would be a good place to plant the 5 Sea Buckthorn. Then, the Silver Buffalo Berry can be planted all along the east line, leaving a “lane” behind them to access the trees along the fence line itself, and also leaving a gap where the telephone line is buried.
With 30 of them, planted 3-4 feet apart, however, we will have WAY more than will fit in a row in that area. Since we will be slowly planting more food trees further west, we will be planting just the one row of them. Which means we’ll need to find another location to plant the remaining trees! I am thinking of the area we had originally considered planting the Sea Buckthorn later on, which is in along the north fence line in the outer yard. Or even filling in gaps west of the lilac hedge. This would go a long way to help reduce the road dust that drifts into our yard in those areas, every time a vehicle drives past on the gravel road.
Before the trees arrive, we will have to measure and mark out where we want to plant in that north east corner. Once we know how many we can fit into there, we’ll know how many we have to plant somewhere else. That is a lot of trees for how we want to use the spaces.
Now that I think of it, we could also gift some to my older brother, for the forest he’s been working on for the past couple of decades. 🙂
Then there are our first nut trees. Pine nuts, to be more specific!
In other sources, we have seen these as being a Zone 2 tree, and some listing them as reaching up to 100 feet in height. !!! Considering where we intended to plant them, that was just not good.
These, however, are listed as Zone 3a, and reach “only” 60 ft in height – about as high as the spruces in the spruce grove. Which is about where we intend to plant these.
These also have a spread of up to 30 feet, but the website doesn’t list how far apart to plant them. We’ll get that information later.
We ordered two bundles of three, 2 yr old seedlings as plugs, not bare root. They have special requirements. For the first five years, they grow very slowly and need to be kept shaded, because their bark can be easily burned by the sun. This is why we want to plant them along the north side of the spruce grove, between the grove and the row of crab apple trees, where it is shaded for most of the day. At 5 years, they suddenly shoot up in height, and no longer need to be protected with shade. Since we’ll be getting 2 yr old seedlings, that should happen in three years.
I have some concerns.
The nursery we first found these at sells them with their roots in a plastic wrapped ball of soil – the only tree they don’t sell as bare roots – because they require a particular fungi at their roots for optimum growth. We may be able to buy the fungi to inoculate the soil, though. At least that’s what I learned from this other nursery. According to the Tree Time website, however, there is no mention of the fungi needs, plus it says they should be planted in full sun, not shade.
We’ll have to do more research on them, because this might be due to differences in varieties. We might end up having to plant these somewhere else. They would make a good shelter belt tree, and at 60 feet high, that would mean either along the north property line, or further out in the south, where we get hit with winds because there is a gap in the sheltering trees. Since we intend to plant permanent garden beds in the outer yard, anything we plant there has to be carefully placed so as not to create the very shade we are trying to get away from!
It’ll take about 7 years before these start producing pine nut containing cones. I don’t think I’ve ever bought pine nuts before, as much as I’d like to be able to use them for making pesto, etc. I enjoy them, but they are just too expensive. These trees have the potential to be a cash crop.
When placing our order, I chose a shipping date of May 30. Since our last frost date is June 2, I thought that would make the most sense. It also means that, in the week or so before they are shipped, we can get out and measure where they will be planted, and even pre-dig the holes (the ground should be thawed out enough), as well as making sure we have everything we need for planting, then protecting, the 41 seedlings we will be getting!
There we have it. After 4 years of living here, we are finally at the stage where we are starting to plant trees and shrubs in bulk. The first stage of a multi-year plan in planting food trees and reach our self-sufficiency goals. Given how long it takes for trees to start producing fruits or nuts, it would have been better if we’d started this years ago, but when we first moved here, we didn’t even know what we wanted, or how to get them. There is a big difference between planning for things that will live for decades, and can potentially become very large, and planning vegetable beds!
Placing this order really feels like a milestone for us!