Sunday, October 27, 2013

Long term project ...

There is a saying amongst foresters that 'you should plant as though you are going to live forever'. Sound advice, since most forest trees have natural life spans that far exceed ours - provided that the trees can survive hazards like rabbits, fungal diseases, deer, climate change, gales or developers building more out of town shopping malls.

For any tree planting enthusiast who takes a really long-term perspective and wants to leave a natural legacy, now is the perfect time to plant an oak tree........ 

.......... because acorns germinate almost as soon as they fall from the tree, producing a sturdy white root that spears down through the leaf litter and continues to grow through the milder days of winter. Then, in spring, the first leafy shoot appear. So pot up a few germinating acorns now and a successful start for the seedlings is almost guaranteed. 

It's a 'mast year' for oaks here, with thousands of acorns on the ground. Most will be eaten by pigeons (I once found a dead one with 23 in its crop), deer and mice but the lucky ones might be carried away by a jay from the shade of the parent tree and buried for future use when food is scarce. The jay will probably forget where it cached its winter food supply - and all the while the buried acorns will be sending down those roots, ready for the start of their first growing season. Come to think of it, jays probably give more oak trees a good start in life than we humans do.

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