Gardening November 2022

by Jane Ahrens

From Mélie’s Garden

On Friday, October 21, 2022 there was a very interesting article in the New York Times by Margaret Renkl about the importance of oak trees in our landscape. She starts her article with a quote from Douglas Tallamy’s book The Nature of Oaks: The Rich Ecology of Our Most Essential Native Trees. As many of you know, Doug has spoken on Fishers Island many times at Nature Conservancy events and is a highly respected naturalist. He writes:

“Oaks are keystone plants, the central life form upon which so many other species in the ecosystem depend. Hundreds of insects and caterpillars feed on oak leaves and those insects in turn feed birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and even other insects. In fall and winter, acorns feed many of them all over again.”

The article goes on to say that oaks are difficult to propagate because so many creatures like to eat acorns. I love to experiment with propagation; I started by saving seeds from an orange I was eating. I have grown a number of small orange trees and now have one that is nineteen years old. This year it produced quite a good crop of small sour oranges. I also have a new seedling from a pomegranate seed I planted this spring. Saving seeds from the food we eat is a fun project to do with children, as long as they realize it doesn’t always work; however, the delight that they get when it does is worth the effort!

This fall I am hoping to collect a few acorns from the oak trees on our property. I will ‘plant’ the acorns in a pot with soil,  adding some mesh over the top, and sink the pot in my vegetable garden for the winter. It will be interesting to see next spring if they started to grow. Tropical seeds are easier to propagate because you can keep them protected indoors in a warm house. An oak tree is more difficult because the acorn needs to stay outside in the cold and is also very attractive to hungry animals. Hopefully, the wire mesh on top of the pot will keep the acorns protected during the winter and there will be tiny oak tree sprouts in the spring.

I hope that we on Fishers Island will pay special attention so that oaks should never be removed without careful consideration. This is difficult to achieve since oak is such a desirable wood in the market place but they are also so very important for our Island environment!

Here are some other alternative ways to propagate oak trees.

2019 Providence Journal article Winter is Time to Plant Acorns Grow an Oak Tree from an Acorn

Or Google Search Wintering over Acorns for Growing Oak Trees

Please share any results with us – success or failure – and thank you for giving it ‘a go’.

Featured Photo

USCG Eagle passing the Race early morning March 18, 2023 on her return from the Chesapeake Bay . Photo Credit Marlin Bloethe

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