Saturday, 11 October, 2003
Debra and I bought three oak trees last weekend, using the 50% off coupon she had for the garden center where she used to work. For about $75, we got a 10-gallon chinkapin oak, a 10-gallon burr oak, and a 5-gallon live oak. (Also called, I hear, a Texas oak. I hear tell that this isn't a real oak tree. It's kind of an odd beast: deciduous evergreen with thick, tough leaves that shed in the spring. They're all over around here. They grow well in stands, and also standalone. There are some magnificent specimens of this slow-growing, long-lived tree in Central Texas. But I digress.)
The proper way to plant a tree, according to Debra (and as a Master Gardener, she knows more about this kind of thing than I do), is to dig a hole that's as deep as the tree's root ball, and two to three times the diameter. For the 10-gallon trees, that means a hole that's about 40 inches wide and 15 inches deep. The first 6 inches isn't much problem now that the rains have started. But beyond that, it's Texas Toothpick time. A Texas Toothpick is a rock bar: 6 feet of 1-inch steel with a pencil point on one end and a chisel tip on the other. The thing weighs 20 pounds. Pick it up, slam the chisel into the ground, pry up some packed dirt. Repeat. Scoop out the 3" of dirt that you loosened up and start all over. It's hard work this time of year. In the middle of the summer with the ground dry and packed, it's really tough.
Well worth the effort, though. Now I have two more (albeit small) oaks in the yard. (It started raining before I could start on the third.) These should be quite nice trees in 100 years or so.