Somewhere around six weeks ago, Kate called me at work to let me know she had purchased five large Black Hills Spruce trees at a local nursery. She noted that they were too big to fit into her Subaru Outback. I was assigned the duty of picking them up on my way home from work … oh joy, I thought.
Since we had already planted a couple hundred trees and shrubs early in the spring, I wasn’t thrilled to have a bunch of big container trees to plant, but I dutifully picked them up … each weighed about 250 pounds. It wasn’t that easy to get them into the bed of the old IH pickup, but I managed. The thought of digging those five big holes made me weary.
I dropped the spruce trees next to the corral by the stock tank so I wouldn’t forget to keep them watered. I finally found the motivation to put them in the ground yesterday.
As with virtually any chore around the farm, the tree planting went much easier than I expected. Since the root balls were relatively large, I chose the shovel with the Dig Rig attachment on it to make the holes. The Dig Rig is an affordable attachment that increases the shovel’s capacity while providing a comfortable step … it reduces stress on your feet, knee, leg and back. I had used the Dig Rig equipped shovel to dig potatoes and plant a few perennials over the summer, but it really made a difference with digging the five large holes for the spruce trees. I didn’t make the holes as large as the arborists typically recommend, but our soil was mellow and moist, so I figured the trees would settle in with no problem.
After planting the end trees, which I am pretty sure are Norway spruces not Black Hills, I paced off the total distance, did some quick math and determined that the other trees (two Black Hills spruce and one Colorado blue spruce) needed to be planted at 6-pace intervals. One by one, the trees went into the ground (along with a 5-gallon bucket of water) like clockwork.
Years ago at our place in South Dakota, Kate and I planted about 50 Colorado blue spruce of similar size, along with about 1,000 seedlings. The seedlings are now about 8 feet tall … the 50 big ones are closer to 15 feet tall. We will be pushing 70 years of age by the time these trees get that large, but as Kate always says, “You plant trees for the next generation.” Hopefully the next generation will enjoy these spruces as much as we do.
Hank Will raises hair sheep, heritage cattle and many varieties of open-pollinated corn with his wife, Karen, on their rural Osage County, Kansas farm. His home life is a perfect complement to his professional life as editor in chief at GRIT and Capper's Farmer magazines. Connect with him on Google+.