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How to plant a tree

Author: Diego Franca

1. Choose a season: the best period for planting is at the beginning of the rainy season, coinciding with the vegetative growth period of the plants. This reduces the need for irrigation and also favors better development and establishment of seedlings. According to the Biodynamic Calendar, planting must be carried out during the downward movement of the moon, as the strength of the plants will be at the roots, making them more adaptable to changes in the environment and improving their fixation on the soil. Also consider the constellations of the zodiac where the moon transits, being the fire signs (Sagittarius, Aries and Leo) more suitable for planting fruit species and the water signs (Serpentarium, Pisces and Cancer) more suitable for planting wood species. If you choose to use the conventional agricultural calendar, the crescent moon is the most favorable for the growth of aerial parts.

2. Choose the species: preferably by native species, which the same individual has different uses and functions, such as: attraction of animals, birds and/or insects; production of edible flowers, leaves, fruits and/or seeds; medicinal properties; protection against strong winds and/or the possibility of using wood. Deciduous species, which lose their leaves during the dormancy period, can be planted on the South face, allowing the entry of sun during the winter and producing shade during the summer.

3. Choose a location: preferably for locations with good water drainage and allowing free growth of the crown and roots. Avoid planting near buildings; land boundary; electric power lines; culverts; water, sewage or gas pipes; pools or areas with rock outcrops (shallow soils). In case of intercropping with other species, respect the occupancy extract and the spacing between the plants. If the goal is to plant on public sidewalks, choose species with a deeper root system to prevent their growth from damaging the floor; and also leave a minimum free area of 0.8 x 0.8 m around the plant.

4. Opening the hole: dig a hole approximately three times the size of the seedling and remove any stones or obstacles that may interfere with the growth of the plant's root system. Separate the soil removed from the hole into two piles: topsoil (organic layer - with darker coloring and presence of decomposing animal and vegetable remains) and deep soil (mineral layer - the color varies depending on the soil formation process and the minerals present).

5. Preparation of the seedling: cut approximately 5 cm from the base of the container in order to remove possible entangled roots and carefully remove the rest of the plastic, avoiding the breaking of the root ball. After planting, collect the plastic waste produced and dispose of it correctly.

6. Planting the seedling: position the seedling in the center of the hole, leaving the trunk flare at the same level as the ground. Fill the hole with the deep soil (mineral layer) and then with the top soil (organic layer), pressing gently around the plant to remove possible air pockets. Avoid over-compacting the soil, as this makes it difficult to breathe the roots and infiltrate the water.

7. Tutoring: tutors favor the plant to maintain its position and have an upright growth. To do this, attach two 2m long bamboo or wooden stakes to the ground approximately 25 cm away from the plant. Attach a piece of wood in a horizontal direction, forming an "H", and gently tie the trunk of the plant with cotton string. As the plant grows, other pieces of wood can be placed horizontally to support the trunk. Avoid tutoring with just a stake, as its fixation on the ground very close to the tree can damage the plant’s root system.

8. Fertilization: preferably by cover fertilization with cured manure, compost or vermicompost. Avoid placing the fertilizer inside the hole, as this favors the fermentation process in anaerobic medium, in case the material is not cured, damaging the plant's root system.

9. Mulch: cover the soil in a radius of 30 cm around the seedling with dry material - grass, straw or leaves. This technique favors water retention in the soil, serves as a means of propagating microorganisms and insects that help in the degradation of organic matter, provides nutrients for plant growth and minimizes the growth of spontaneous plants in its surroundings. Prevent the organic matter of soil cover to have direct contact with the trunk flare, leaving approximately 10 cm in its surroundings free of the material.

10. Watering: avoid the use of chlorinated water and preferably irrigate the plant during dusk, as this reduces the evaporation of soil moisture. Biofertilizers (bokashi, slurry, manure, humus, urine or dynamic accumulator plants) can be diluted in the water used for irrigation, as long as the concentration used and the previous process of fermentation in liquid medium are respected.

11. Pruning: consists of removing badly located or intentional branches aiming at improving the formation of the tree's architecture. The removal of excess leaves on the branches helps to reduce the tree's transpiration, favoring its survival.

12. Thinning: consists of the removal of flowers in the initial years of the plant to favor that the energy produced is used in its growth and not in the production of fruits.

13. Monitoring: daily check the plant's adaptation process in the environment, as well as the presence of predators (ants, caterpillars or aphids) and the color change in the leaves.