Thursday, March 5, 2009

Planting Oak and Hazelnut Trees HerbFarm day 2

My back is a little sore. Not in the same way one feels when they've had a great workout or from something as silly as pulling a muscle by giving someone very tall an awkward hug. I'm sore from digging holes for two oak and two hazelnut trees, each inoculated with black truffles. “Are you kidding!?” is what I squealed when Bill, the head gardener at the HerbFarm said I’d be doing on Thursday. The trees are tiny and they won’t even produce a truffle likely for five years from now, but the idea that one could even buy a tree inoculated with black truffle spores is quite cool. They bought the trees online at , straight from Eugene, OR.

Ron and Carrie Zimmerman currently own the HerbFarm and because the soil in the culinary garden doesn't have great drainage, Bill decided we should plant a couple trees in their yard, not too far from the culinary garden. "Each tree needs 250 pounds of lime." That was what Bill said when we got to the Zimmerman's house in Woodinville. For prime conditions for these trees, the Ph in the soil needed to be less acidic. The Ph scale goes from 0-14, with 7 being neutral and below 7 being acidic. I don't know exactly where Seattle or the Eastside's soil Ph is, but I do know that there was a variety of soil types depending on where we dug. Rich potting soil type soil, rocky, clay and plain "dirt" looking soil. I'm sure that if we had a tool with which to measure the Ph, it would vary from area to area. Messing with the natural Ph can really destroy your soil unless you know what you are doing- Bill did a lot of research on the native plants in the area and how they would each react to the soil change and based the plantings on this information.

As I am pretty new to gardening- not to mention planting truffle trees! It was pretty neat to see several hundred pounds of lime up close. As we tore into the plastic bags, a child's sandbox came pouring out of each one. The lime was bright white with specks of grey and very fine. For each hole, (measuring at least 3 feet by 2 feet) we, meaning Bill, Mark, Winsome and myself, stirred the soil back in with the lime, then dug an 8 inch whole and planted a tree. If you want to see one of the trees, I believe Bill is planting one right next to the HerbFarm restaurant.

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