Project TreeStart
Seeds, Nuts, Cuttings, and Grafts  

 Presented by Dr. Daniel Milbocker, for the New Forest Society, Inc. 


Much of our farm acreage has gone through a cycle.

  1. Originally covered with trees and brush
  2. Clearing and farming led to overproduction
  3. Overproduction and low prices impoverished farmers, resulting in their grown children leaving the farm.
  4. Help starved farmers turned to low labor pasturage, followed by subdivision and selling of farms for homes.
  5. Now pasture ravaged farms are being reforested for homes.  

Farming is hard on the environment. 

  1. Removing trees decreases soil humus from 7 to less that 1%.
  2. Soil without humus erodes easily and retains few nutrients.
  3. Eroding soils contaminate rivers with soil and plant nutrients.  

Erosion can be prevented on farms by:

  1. Strip farming to prevent erosion and nutrient loss
  2. Maintaining buffer strips between fields and streams.  

How do buffer strips work?

  1. 50í to 100ft. strips of grass remove the nutrients and sediment from run-off water.
  2. Inter-planting of shrubs and trees increases humus to the soil for catching nutrients and absorbing water.
  3. Slower run-off prevents flooding and erosion of the stream and its banks.  

Planting Buffer strips.

  1. Banks of rivers are often part of pasture compacted by animal traffic which grazes vegetation to a short stubble.
  2. Planting of trees and shrubs would improve soil permeability
  3. Planting of grass would catch soil sediment and absorb nutrients before water enters the river.
  4. Requires tree and shrub seedlings or propagules capable of competing with pasture grasses and foraging wild animals.

Some highlights of Dr. Milbockerís program, recorded by Caryl Austrian, follow:

Before land is cleared of trees and shrubs, humus gives off carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide mixes with rain to form carbonic acid.   Nitrogen plus rain plus lightning produces ammonium hydroxide. Plants and rain generally clean up the air resulting in a normal ph of 7. When the land is cleared, the percentage of humus is greatly reduced and a chemical imbalance results.

Under good farming practices, 300 feet of buffer strips of grass and grass/shrubs/trees adjacent to a stream will clean up the water running off into the stream. Itís bad practice to permit (as many farmers do) cows to walk in a river because that water becomes drinking water downstream. An acre can process no more than 60 tons of sludge.

 To cover banks with some sort of vegetation:

When planning a riparian barrier, select plants that are not going to be a problem downstream. You may need help to determine what is best for your situation.

Trees can be grown from the seeds in cones of pine, spruce, hemlock, etc.; true nuts such as acorns; fruit such as apple and peach; immature embryos such as holly berries; legumes such as locust.

If using the propagation method, select cuttings carefully Ė they should be of reasonable size, preferably NOT flowering or fruiting, juveniles rather than adults. Keep all cuttings from wilting (water or mist) until they put out roots, which can take 7-20 days for some, 60 days for others. Plastic tents, cold frames, burlap are also used. Shrubs root more easily than trees. When grafting, best to do just before rain and below 90 degrees. Have to stay within the genus with a few exceptions. Grafting is an art.

After propagation, plant rooted cutting in 4 Ĺ" pot, water once a day. If it dries out in one day, move it to a larger container. Use potting soil, not field soil. Or plant in garden row: 6 inches soil on top of plastic   Some gardening tips: remember water can seep 32 inches into the ground; donít use hardwood (contains manganese, which binds iron) or pine (contains turpentine) bark mulch.

In closing, Dr. Milbocker said that according to the state department of environmental protection, Maryland has lost half of its forested areas and "We need to replace them."