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Script 9.3

Notes to broadcasters

Information on this topic was requested by DCFRN Participants in Bolivia, Brazil, Cameroon, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Kenya, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Uruguay.

Before using the information in this item, please note that it is entirely directed to farmers who have no local forestry agency where they can get seedling trees for planting. If trees are available to your farmers at little or no cost, you should probably decide not to use this item. If the information is pertinent, however, please use Items 1D, 2 and 3 in the correct numerical sequence. Also, please read the Notes at the end of this item concerning other related DCFRN items.

1. This item (Item 3) is the third of three items in this Package on the subject of farmers planting trees.

2. In the third paragraph of this item, there is a reference to the type of seedling bed described in other DCFRN items. It is suggested that information in these items be used in association with this item. They are:

“Vegetable Gardening” — Package 7

Item 2 (part 2 — “Planting Seeds in a Garden and in a Seedling Bed”)

Item 4 (Part 3 — “Care of Seedling Plants in a Seedling Bed”)

3. The use of compost figures prominently in this item. It is therefore suggested that information on compost contained in another DCFRN item also be used in association with this item. It is:

“Making Your Own Compost” — Package 2, Item 4.

* For Information Sources, see Notes of Item 1D.

Script

We at this radio station are part of a world-wide information network that gathers farming information from developing countries all over the world. It’s the Developing Countries Farm Radio Network, sponsored by the Canadian International Development Agency, Massey-Ferguson and the University of Guelph.

Through this Network we bring you information on ways to increase food supplies for your family, or to sell — ways that other farmers have used successfully.

Once again, let’s talk about planting trees. Here’s George Atkins with some information on raising seedling trees in your own nursery.

Atkins We’ve already talked on this program about deciding what kinds of trees to plant and how to gather and prepare tree seeds for planting. What you now have to do is to plant those seeds in a place where they can start growing, that’s protected from the wind, from too much sun, and where you can be sure that they get enough water to start them growing well. You must start them in a seedling bed, then later, when your seedling trees are big enough, you can transfer them to the place where they will grow into large trees.

Now, as seedling trees should be planted out at the beginning of the rainy season, you should start planting your seeds long enough beforehand so that the small trees will be ready for transplanting at the right time.

There are two ways to raise your seedling trees. One way is to prepare a seedling bed much the same as you would for growing seedling vegetable plants. In it you plant your seeds in rows and when trees from them are big enough, you transplant them to the place you want them to grow permanently. You do this more or less as you would transplant vegetable seedlings into your garden. When doing it, you should keep the roots undisturbed in the soil that they grew in and transplant roots, soil and all into the final planting hole.

David Coyle and Andy Kenney are foresters who have worked at Kanye in Botswana, and when I met them they told me about the other method of growing seedling trees.

— Instead of planting the seeds in a seedling bed, you grow each seedling tree separately in its own container of soil. — All the containers are placed close together in a special area where you can carefully look after them like you would look after a regular vegetable seedling bed or plot. This becomes your seedling tree nursery.

With all the seedlings close together like this, they can easily be shaded from the sun and protected from the wind; also they’ll be conveniently placed for watering regularly as they grow.

But what about all these containers for growing the seedling trees in? In some places people buy plastic or cardboard cups, but David says there are lots of other things you can use that won’t cost any money.

Coyle
It can be any kind of a container, from a can to a pot.

Atkins
What about a banana stem? Can you use a banana stem?

Coyle
Sure, you could use the main stem of a banana tree. Using a banana stem you can cut it into 20 centimetre (8 inch) long sections and pull out the heart, the inside layers of rolled up leaves, so you’ve got nice little tubes. Then you just fold under the bottom and you’ve got a nice little banana stem pot to grow your one tree in.

It’s nice to have a pot like this if you’re growing a tree because if you’re going to be taking the tree any distance to plant out, you won’t disturb the roots as much if you’ve got them growing in a nice pot. — So a banana stem, or if you’ve got some fairly strong leaves and you want to sew them together to make a little pot, you could fill it with nice soil and plant your seeds in that.

Kenney
— You might be able to use a length of bamboo, — just form a little cup with the bamboo. — It shouldn’t be too small, — perhaps twice the width of your hand or a hand width across the opening. If you make it too small you’ll confine (crowd) the roots. The root growth is probably the most important part of growing trees.

Atkins
How about a coconut shell? Could you use that for a container for a seedling tree?

Kenney
A coconut shell? — Yes, — provided you make drainage holes in the bottom. That’s most important for any of these containers, that you enough holes in the bottom of the container so that extra water can freely drain off. —

You should put some pebbles or small stones or something in the bottom to keep the holes open to let the water out.

Atkins
Okay, now what about the soil or the soil mixture that we’re going to put in?

Coyle
The soil mixture should be as rich, — as good soil as you can find. Also soil that drains well. — So a bit of sand mixed in with the soil will be good. If the only soil you have is very sandy soil, and if you have a supply of compost, then mix this sandy soil with your compost.

If you make your own compost, it’s always good to mix it with your soil so your mixture is 1/3 or 1/2 compost, because it holds a lot of nutrients, it holds a lot of moisture and it can really give your little seedling tree the boost (start) that it needs before you plant it out in a field or a planted area.

Kenney
If you have compost or even if you don’t have compost, there are certain things in soil from the forest that definitely help tree roots grow; — and you may not find many of those things in other soil. So it would be a good idea to mix some forest soil in with your soil.

Atkins
So then you put the seeds in all these pots and then you place the pots side by side. — How deep should you plant the seeds in the soil?

Kenney
A good rule is to bury the seed about the same depth as the seed is wide. If you’ve got a fairly large seed the size of the end of your small finger, then it should be under about that same amount of soil. — To plant a seed too deep will prevent it from growing properly. If you plant it too shallow, it may dry out.

Coyle
Some tree seeds are very very tiny and they might even need some light in order to grow. So the very very smallest seeds, — you’d just leave them lightly on top of the soil and keep them well watered so that they don’t dry out.

Atkins
Would you only plant one seed in a pot or would you plant several seeds in a pot and then thin them?

Kenney
— Well, I think it’s good to plant a number of seeds in a pot and if only one germinates, then you’re still okay. If they all germinate, it’s easier to remove the ones you don’t want and keep the best one.

Coyle
You really shouldn’t pull out the seedlings you don’t want; that could disturb the roots of the one you do want to grow. So, just nip off the smaller ones with your fingers.

Atkins
— And now about watering — it’s important to do that regularly, isn’t it?

Kenney
Well, one of the reasons for growing seedlings in a nursery is so you can water the trees, — but you also must keep in mind that too much water can kill a small tree.

Coyle
To conserve water you could put a small amount of shade over the nursery area. — You can do this with branches or something else. You don’t want it too shady because then the seeds might not get warm enough to germinate, — but you would want a little bit of shade.

Atkins
— And one other thing; — how long should you keep the seedlings growing in these pots in the nursery before you transplant them out where you’re going to grow them?

Kenney
Well, if you’re going to prepare your planting site by removing all the grass, then you might plant them out when they’re 15 centimetres (6 inches) high. If, however, the area you will be planting has a lot of grass or brush, you may want to leave the trees in the nursery a bit longer so that they’re perhaps 30 centimetres (1 foot) high.

Coyle
Really, you should plant them out before the roots become too big for the pot; — because the roots begin to grow in circles around the inside of the pot. Then, after you plant it in the field, the tree may never be able to grow a good root system that will be big enough to hold itself upright.

So, grow your seedling trees in containers that are large enough that the roots won’t get too bound up inside.

Atkins
— And a way to find out what the roots are like inside the container would be to actually open one up and see what’s going on in there.

Coyle
Exactly.

Atkins
Of course, you should have lots of seedling trees growing in containers like this so you can do this kind of thing and experiment with them.

Coyle
Yes.

Atkins
Thank you very much, David Coyle and Andy Kenney, two agroforesters, here at the Rural Industries Innovation Training Centre at Kanye in Botswana in Southern Africa.

Serving “Agriculture, the Basic Industry”, this is George Atkins.

Acknowledgements

Interviewees: David Coyle, c/o Kantor Bappeda II, Watampone, Kabupaten Bone, Sulawesi Selatan, Indonesia.

Andy Kenney, c/o Department of EnvironmentalBiology, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario N1G 2W1, Canada.

 

Information Sources

* For Information Sources, see Notes of Item 1D.