Today is a milestone on the homestead, my wife and I planted the first tree on the property. As a carpenter, woodworker and lover of nature I feel a strong connection to trees. Sadly since I moved into the house back in 2015 six large trees have come down, both by chain saw and mother nature. The trees in the yard were part of the great appeal of the home, for an inner city property large trees really make a place feel more in nature and I greatly enjoyed the sights of the leaves. Each time one of the great beauties came down my heart sank putting me in a bleak sour mood for days, so putting this tree in the ground is really a big turning point for the property and for me. Ashlee and I are trying really hard to make this property better then it was, building soil health, increasing native species, providing habitat for all manner of creature, as well as utilizing it to be self sufficient, enriching our lives and giving back to the land.
This little spruce was growing up between the cracks of our very old asphalt driveway. It was only a matter of time till a truck tire or snow shovel destroyed the sapling, and my heart, heavy with the loss of so many other trees, couldn't take the thought of this happening. So carefully I dug up the small tree and placed it in a pot, where it stayed all summer soaking up sun, water, our affection and being named Bruce the Spruce. It is nothing short of amazing the connection one can make with things such as trees. With winter fast approaching, and predictions that it will be a harsh one, Ashlee and I were grew concerned. Roots buried in the ground fair much better then those in pots when exposed to freezing temperatures, the cold could potentially harm if not killing the young tree. It was time for Bruce to be given a proper home.
I'm lacking photos of putting young Bruce into the ground so take my word for it on the process we took. It began with picking a location. The front yard is full already with some trees and many garden beds, and a smattering of lawn (not all lawn is terrible as some people might have you believe, I will elaborate on that in a future post, bare with me), so Bruce could not go there. Back yard it is then, but where. North side of the lot would be best, but the wood lot eats up much of that available resource and the shop eats up the rest. The south side can't be used, Spruce trees can get rather tall and the shadow Bruce will cast one day will be a problem for our ever growing vegetable gardens. The location then is on the south side of the shop cornered to out future utility patio space, here Bruce's eventual shadow will be a blessing for the shop, helping to cool it in the summer, roots may be a problem however that is a bridge to cross later. The ground here was slightly depressed though so we didn't dig a deep hole for the sapling. Planted shallow we built up the ground around Bruce first with a layer of compost, to provide easily accessed nutrients until the roots establish and can burrow through the native clay soil. Then a layer of cardboard and wood chips, to establish the new grade level and suppress the lawn and weeds. Before all that I put two new fence posts, for the future yard fence, in the ground to minimize the disturbance to new roots next year. Finally Ashlee and I used some salvaged brick from when we deconstructed out chimney to create a border around Bruce's new home.
We have high hopes for this small tree, the roots looked amazing when we popped it out of the pot, it thrived all summer. This location will see plenty of sun and water, no competition from other trees and being so prominent in the yard it is bound to get lots of our attention. Ashlee and I have plans for more trees on the property, including a small fruit orchard, but these are goals for the coming years. For now my heart is glad to see a new tree take root on this land, even if we don't stay on this property forever I hope this little tree will grow for years to come and that any who are present around it enjoy it as I do.