Monday, March 2, 2009

Of Fruit Trees and Oyster Bars

This weekend we volunteered through Hands On Greater Portland to plant fruit trees around the community garden located at the Hazlewood Hydropark in Northeast Portland. Only a year old, the garden already has a year long waiting list for plots and looks like it's getting a lot of good use. Quite a few people from the neighborhood came out to help with the planting, along with many volunteers from all around the city. All told, the group planted nearly two dozen young trees in just a couple of hours, including pear, quince, persimmon, and many varieties of apple. In a few years, the area around the garden will be delicious!

Anyway, it was a great opportunity to learn about planting young trees. A representative from Friends of Trees was on hand to demonstrate how to do it properly. Basically, you dig holes roughly three feet in diameter and a foot and a half deep, into which you carefully transplant the trees, which in our case were little more than four foot tall sticks with roots. We were careful to make sure the roots were well spread out and buried only a couple inches below the soil, as otherwise trees will have difficulty growing. Once a tree is planted, you give it a couple buckets of water and add some mulch around the base to help maintain moisture. then you stake the trees to keep them growing straight and upright in the wind. In a year, the stakes will come out. At that point, the trees should be able to stand perfectly well on their own.

When we were finished, we stuck around to help a second group of volunteers plant trees around the edge of the hydro park. We planted several pines, maples, and douglas firs. These were more mature than the fruit trees and instantly made the park a prettier place.

All in all it was a lot of fun. We even came up with an idea for what the Portland water district might do with the now defunct old water tower in the park. We'll just have to see if the district takes our suggestion of opening an oyster bar up there seriously!

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