As winter begins it’s certain approach, the vegetable garden can remain productive by planting fall nuts and pine seeds. An early spring transplanting schedule should be in place because many of the nut trees develop a long tap root quickly. Containers can also be used which have plenty of depth.
Acorns, for example, can easily be collected during the fall of the year, usually for free and then planted in the vegetable garden or even in containers. The seeds will sprout weeks before the first tomatoes can be placed safely in the ground. Dig the young seedlings carefully, if they are planted in the ground, being careful not to disturb the roots. Garden soil is usually the best in the yard, or should be, which makes the dig easier.
Instead of dealing with weeds and aphids, slugs and other destructive bugs, there are animals out there which will smell a free meal and dig your seeds for a free winter snack. Cover the ground or the containers with mesh wire, screening or some similar protective products. In my experience, that is the advantage over direct sowing where you want the tree to grow. There is better wildlife control.
When acorns do sprout, and remember not all of them will sprout, it is important to have a plan of where to plant the young seedlings. Some species can grow rapidly. Most will sprout quickly after the first good, warm days have been around for a short time. If using containers, which have some depth to them for root development, you will have a little extra time.
Trees make nice gifts or can be planted where needed in the yard. Eventually the seedling will help reduce summer cooling costs or winter heating bills. Seedling trees can also be sold at some early farm markets, roadside stands or auctions which are common year round in many communities. Or, if you are considering future timber logging in a couple of decades, it could prove to be a hefty investment with proper forestry management techniques.
Oaks are just one possibility to keep the vegetable garden in production. Walnuts, hickory, pecan butternut or any other species of nut tree can be easily grown if planted in the fall and protected. Most, in northern areas, need the freezing temperatures of winter.
With the walnut trees, there is a debate about whether the husk should be removed or not before planting. I have had good success at leaving the husk on when planting. It’s the way it happens in the forest.
The seed nuts are generally easy to obtain from neighbors and friends or from wooded areas with landowner permission. It is an advantage to have the seeds from a region in your area rather than a region several hundred miles away. It is important, however, to check with local laws and regulations. Also in many regions there are strict laws governing digging up any seedling, just in case a jump start was desired.
Trees are actually fast growers given the proper environmental factors and within a year the same tree would be an expensive item if purchased from a nursery of even a box store.
Small evergreens can be started much the same as the nut tree in the garden. Know which species you are collecting and planting, there are many different species of evergreens with different requirements and needs, as well as future behavior. In general, try to collect the pine cone shortly after it has fallen to the ground, at least within a few weeks.
Place the cones on a tray or something similar and place in a sunny area or a warm room. After a few days, shake the pine cone and the seeds will fall out. Plant the seeds according to the species requirement and be sure to keep the planted seed protected. While the seeds can be left in the home freezer for several months, it is better to use outdoor pots or the area where the tomatoes once grew. It is a more natural start and the seeds don’t get lost under the hamburg.
Evergreens make excellent hedge rows, wind or privacy screens. They can be perfect spring time gifts, and if the containers are large enough, they can remain in the pots for a longer period of time. Most evergreens don’t tend to develop long and deep tap roots; but it is important to know the needs of your tree.
The summer garden can also be a productive winter beginning for a variety of trees which can save money and make some extra cash. Learn the species, protect from wildlife and be prepared with a spring plan.
Source: personal experience