Introduction[edit | edit source]

Planting trees is a very good investment of time and effort for small scale farmers in the rural areas of the tropics. Integrating trees into other agricultural activities and raising of livestock will greatly benefit farmers. This page will discuss the basics of planting and taking care of trees, and integrating them into small farms.

Uses for Trees[edit | edit source]

Some trees, such as those from the genera Leucaena, Albissia, and Acacia, can supply firewood for cooking or providing heat. Wood can also be used as a building material for, furniture, fences, etc. Regenerating forests will ensure that residents of rural areas do not run out of this precious resource.

Many trees provide direct sources of food in the form of fruit. Examples include bananas, guavas, mangoes and avocados. These fruits can also be sold in market as a source of income.

Some trees can provide a direct income to the farmer such as coffee, cloves, cacao and coconut. These trees can often be harvested when other crops have not yet yielded any useful product.

Many trees, such as Calliandra, Leucaena(ipil-ipil), and Cliricidia Sepium (madre do cacao) also provide important food for livestock. They can be used to to feed animals during dry seasons, and other times when sources of livestock feed become difficult to attain.

Planting Trees[edit | edit source]

From a Seed[edit | edit source]

The simplest way to plant a tree is from a seed. For best results, care must be taken to choose a seed from a tree with good characteristics. The tree must be healthy, free from diseases and insects, and be known to have high yields of the desired product (firewood, fruit, leaves, etc). The best time to take a seed is when the fruit of the tree is fully ripened. This will help to ensure that the seed will germinate quickly.

Some seeds will need to be specially prepared before planting. Depending on the type, this can mean drying, peeling, or soaking the seed in hot or cold water. Consulte with other local farmers, program workers, or agricultural extension agents to gain this knowledge.

Fast growing trees, such as those used for firewood, are often planted directly from seeds. In very dry regions however, it is often best to germinate the seeds first in a nursery, to ensure they survive the germination process.

From a Cutting[edit | edit source]

Some types of trees are best planted from 'cuttings', or 'stakes'. These types of trees are often used for planting living fences. Preferred species for planting living fences from cuttings included Gliricidia, Erythrina, and Lannea.

This section of the book was summarized by User:Mike Saunders 15:54, 31 January 2010 (UTC)

Nurseries[edit | edit source]

Some tree crops may not have the strength to be planted directly into the field; in this case, plant them in a nursery, or seedbed. In addition to saving time and water, it's possible to plant during the dry season in the absence of rain. Nurseries should be started early in the dry season, so that the seedlings can grow for as long as possible before the planting season begins.

Location[edit | edit source]

Choose to put the nursery in a location that is well protected from livestock, has easy access to water, and is easily reachable.
A raised rack can be constructed to neatly store these containers, as well as serve to protect the seedlings from livestock.

Bags[edit | edit source]

A plastic bag is a good inexpensive and disposable container for a nursery tree. The bag should be seven to ten centimetres in diameter. They can be made by cutting a roll of plastic into pieces 20cm in length and sealing off one of the ends.
Water drainage is also important. Holes should be cut into the bags after the soil has been placed inside.
Pre-made bags are available from various agricultural supply stores for any tree species that may need to remain in the bags for periods longer than six months.

Soil[edit | edit source]

Containers should be filled to the top with an equal parts mixture of manure, sand, and soil that is fertile and loose enough for water to seep through. These containers need to be watered and weed-free, as well as loosened regularly to ensure that the soil does not become too packed.

This section of the book was summarized by Benjamin Wang 18:12, 31 January 2010 (UTC)

Planting Seedlings[edit | edit source]

Prior Soil Considerations[edit | edit source]

Before planting trees, it is important to insure that each tree is given the required area and volume of soil to grow properly. The ideal environment for planting trees contains loosely packed, deep soil allowing for proper drainage and aeration of the tree's roots, while maximizing root growth rate.

Location[edit | edit source]

To minimize the amount of effort required, any valuable or high-maintenance trees can be planted nearer to the family dwelling.
If the only land available for tree planting is on a gradient, proper measures must be taken to reduce the volume of top-soil washed away by precipitation.
The condition of any open areas of land affected by steep gradients can be improved by afforesting the area with re-greening species of tree. Such trees can also serve as a source of firewood for area inhabitants.

Hole Preparation[edit | edit source]

At least 2 weeks before transplanting any seedlings, a hole measuring 50-100cm2 must be prepared. When a hole is dug for a seedling, the top-soil should be kept separate from the from the less favourable deep-soil. To create a nutrient rich planting mix for the new seedling, the separated top-soil can be mixed with manure or compost and returned to the hole.

Planting Depth[edit | edit source]

The height at which the new seedling should be planted depends largely on the growing environment. A seedling planted in moist soil should be planted at ground level to lower the risk of root drowning, while a seedling planted in drier soil should be planted several centimeters below ground level to promote water retention. Upon planting, the soil surrounding the seedling should be tamped down to reduce the risk of the plant toppling over.

Photo-sensitivity[edit | edit source]

New seedlings are particularly photosensitive and should be given ample shade to protect from direct sunlight. Certain species of tree requiring extensive shade throughout their lives can be planted below a permanent shade tree. A permanent shade tree must be prepared in advance of planting the new seedling.

Dehydration[edit | edit source]

In the few months following planting, seedlings are particularly susceptible to dehydration and should be kept properly watered and protected. Regular watering and covering with mulch made of dead plant matter insures that seedling roots (especially from seedlings planted in a dry area) are given enough water to minimize the risk of dehydration.

Fertilizer[edit | edit source]

By adding fertilizers such as manure, compost, or chemical fertilizers, the sapling growth rate can be improved. Any fertilizers should be spread in circle around the tree and not poured directly onto or at the base of the sapling.

Early Care[edit | edit source]

By taking the time and effort to improve the growth rate of the sapling early on, the long term growth rate and production of that tree will also be greatly improved. To provide the best quality fruit, proper pruning of the trees is also paramount during the first year.
Any dead or diseased branches should be removed promptly to reduce the risk of disease spreading throughout the whole tree. To properly remove a diseased branch, it should be cut with a very sharp instrument such as pruning shears or a knife, and it should be cut as close as possible to the main branch. To reduce the risk of disease spreading, adequate care should be taken to ensure the cutting instruments are properly cleaned after use.

Reproduction of Saplings[edit | edit source]

Once a seedling has begun yielding high-quality fruit, the time comes to decide which method of reproducing the tree is best: from seed, "Bud Grafting", or "Air Layering".

This section of the book was summarized by User:Steffan Miliucci 17:46, 02 February 2010 (UTC)

Air Layering[edit | edit source]

"Air-layering" is a method of controlled fruit tree reproduction. A section of a branch has the bark peeled away and is then wrapped in a moist material. This facilitates root growth in the branch. The branch is cut off from the tree, and then planted.

Advantages[edit | edit source]

The new tree will be an exact clone of the original tree.
The new tree will bear fruit sooner than a tree grown from seed.

Disadvantages[edit | edit source]

It is time consuming, and thus difficult to undertake on a large scale.
The tree must be older, and healthy.
Only a few branches per tree can be "air-layered", so as to insure it's continued good health.

Details[edit | edit source]

The branch should be approximately 2 cm diameter. The peel should occur near a major branch-fork. Peel approximately 3 cm of both the inner and outer layers of bark from the branch with a sharp knife. After 3 days, pack a moistened, fibrous material, such as a coconut husk, around the branch. Then wrap the fibrous material with an airtight plastic shell.

Roots will be sufficiently grown after 30-100 days. Cut the branch from the tree near the fork, and carefully refmove the plastic shell (note: do not remove what remains of the fibrous material). Transplant the branch carefully.

This section of the book was summarized by Scott Plaxton 1 February 2010 (UTC)

Bud Grafting[edit | edit source]

Grafting joins together two different plants to make one plant with qualities from each. It is done by growing a cutting from one plant into a branch of another plant.

Grafting is a difficult discipline that requires precision, patience, and skill. However, a skilled farmer can graft without specialized equipment. Field experience is very valuable to learn the technique.

The different ways to graft plants are as follows: bud, cleft/wedge, side cleft, and approach. This article focuses on the bud method

Bud grafting involves detaching a bud or group of buds from the scion (the healthy plant you want to reproduce) and attaching it to the stock, which is the main stem of another plant.

Preparing the Stock Plant[edit | edit source]

Stock plants should be grown from a seed that is not from the scion tree or other grafted trees. Plant them in containers using the same soil as that of where the tree will be planted in the ground. Stock plants should be healthy plants that are not adversely affected by bugs, disease, or weather conditions. When the stem of the stock plant is about the size of a pen (1/2 cm) and the plant is 8-12 months old, it is a good time to graft onto it. Scrape away a small area of bark near the base of the plant using a sharp clean knife. Be careful to only scrape the bark and not the wood underneath.

Preparing the Scion and Bud[edit | edit source]

A bud is a small knob-like feature of a tree or plant where a branch is about to grow from. Depending on the type of tree it may only be a 3-5 cm long. When choosing a tree to take the bud (also called an "eye") from make sure it is healthy, produces good fruit, and is no less than 36 months old. Cut off a branch with a similar diameter to the one you are grafting to and be sure to trim it to 20-30 cm. With a single cut of the knife slice the bud off of the scion branch, making sure the surface area of the cut is about the same as the area scraped off of the stock plant. The slice should be at least twice as large as the bud itself. Be sure to cut into the wood under the bark. Cautiously peel the bark from the bud. In the above steps always use a sharp, clean knife and be very careful not to damage the plants.

Attaching the Bud to the Stock[edit | edit source]

Use tape or plastic string to securely fasten the bud to the peeled area on the stock plant, making sure not to cover up the tip of the bud. Keep the plant in the nursery or greenhouse while it is just starting out. When the bud grows so that it is attached to the stock, remove the fastener material.

Caring for the Plant[edit | edit source]

When the bud is growing prosperously, cut all of the other branches of the plant so they hang loosely, and eventually remove them. This should only be done if the bud is growing well. Use a stick to support the new growth if needed. When the plant is strong enough it can be transplanted into the ground.

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

It is a wonderful thing to grow plants because they provide fruit, a home for animals, and wood for building and burning. If you follow the instructions in this book, plan well, work hard, and take care of the plants you can have success!

This section of the book was summarized by Krystal 02:16, 31 January 2010 (UTC)

See also[edit | edit source]

Agroforestry - Uses of trees in agroforestry arrangements

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