When is the best time to plant a tree?

When is the best time to plant a tree?

Weather patterns have been so predictable that sayings, songs, and cultural tropes have evolved out of them. Communities and cultures grew out of consistent and predictable climate patterns all over the globe. Farmer's, ranchers, and fisherfolk still use saying such as April showers bring May flowers, and red sky at night shepherd's delight, red sky in the morning, shepherd's take warning. Even in my lifetime weather patterns have changed. 

A recent sunset promising good weather the following day


Let me back up a minute. First, let me give a basic definition of a pattern. A pattern is something that follows a rule while repeating or changing. A pattern is a broad concept of the rule, with slight variations. Songs, flowers, rivers, and yes, weather has patterns - think winter in the north means cold, spring means wet, summer means hot, then back to winter. If we have cold in the summer, the pattern is broken. Our weather patterns are globally broken, and it's scary. Listening to the events across the globe can get quite demoralizing, moving into hopelessness on the worst days. One of the reason Tim and I are farming the way we do is to combat that sometimes crushing fear that the near future is going to resemble a dystopian novel. The Sheep Look Up first comes to mind.  


In our own small way in our little corner of the world we are trying to do something to combat the environmental distress we feel. On good days we believe it will save the world, on bad days it feels like it's completely pointless, but at least we are trying. How we feel changes day to day. The one thing that is GAURANTEED to make us feel better about things is being able to be present with nature is some fashion - generally going for a walk. 

A view of grazing from the walking trail

Our walks end up being more than just exercise. Often Tim and I rant about the state of the world, express feelings that seem to need more space, observe the landscape, and plan for the future! Future plans include lots and lots of trees! Earlier this year I finally purchased some new trees to plant in the middle field this year. A mixture of "functional" trees from black walnuts to honey locust, the trees will eventually transform the middle field into a silvapasture of sorts.

Tim watering the newly planted black walnut saplings

Currently the field is a wildlife corridor and our emergency grazing (although we've never grazed it) in case of extreme weather dry or wet. The field is awash with wildflowers, insects, birds, and wildlife. It's quite normal to see a deer, wild turkey, or fox, passing through. A musical chorus of insects provides a constant buzz in the background when walking through it. Right now it's a landscape full of life that will be enhanced, but not overshadowed, by trees. 

Nursery bed for elderberries and hazelnuts


Planting a tree is an act of hope. Chances are that the person who plants it won't be around to see the tree become mature. It's planted for future generations, not the one planting the sapling. I think of this each time we plant a tree. The best time to plant one was 20 years ago. The next best time is NOW.

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