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Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Another Try on the Red Alder

A few years ago I went on a quest for a red alder tree to plant in my yard (see old blog post here).  I found what I thought was a red alder tree and planted it, and it turned out to be a common sitka alder -  not the red alder I had wanted (click here for post).  Eventually, a blog reader named Tom took pity on me and sent me some actual red alders to plant (click here for post).  That first summer the new red alders did really well and actually doubled in size.  I thought I had accomplished my goal.

And then came a very hard winter which frosted and killed one alder and damaged the others.  Still in the spring the alders were doing well and when I left for the summer field season they were all leafed out and growing.  But when I came back later in the summer I found to my horror that the lawn mowing service had girdled the trunks with the weed-eater.  And so phase one of my Cliffside alder quest ended - All red alders dead.

Anyway, last fall Tom called and asked how the alders were doing, and I told him the sad news.  He commiserated and asked if I wanted to try again.  Boy did I ever!  And so I recently got another shipment of red alder saplings along with some big leaf maple and grand and douglas fir saplings.  I planted them all in various protected areas of the lawn.

I've learned a few things - only the most protected spots this time; each sapling will get a metal cage, and next winter (and the next few nights which are supposed to be in the low 20s) each sapling will get coat to protect against extreme cold.  I also talked to a local tree expert who recommended putting dead leaf litter from common alders around the red alder tree roots.  He said there is a symbiotic bacteria that alders use to fix nitrogen, and that it would help the new red alders get going if I could fix them up with some of this bacteria.

And so the red alders are in - and now it's time to care for them and keep the fingers crossed!  Thank you Tom!


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