Trees help clean our air—removing fossil fuel emissions, improving air quality, and reducing nearby indoor air pollution by more than 50 percent. They provide us with oxygen, help clean our drinking water, and as the Arbor Day Foundation puts it, “Trees are simply amazing.”
Dating back to the 1800s, the thought of a tree-planting holiday became a topic of passion for J. Sterling Morton, a journalist from Detroit. As an editor of Nebraska’s top newspaper—he used that medium to spread agricultural information. The first “unofficial” Arbor Day was celebrated in Nebraska on April 10, 1872. It is reported that one million trees were planted in the state that day. Two years later, Arbor Day was officially proclaimed, and in 1882 it was supported nation-wide (a number of states honor Arbor Day at other times in the spring season to coincide with prime tree planting periods).
Celebrate this year by planting a tree, or organizing a community or corporate event for an even larger impact. Delta Tree Farm in Lodi grows hundreds of different varieties, is open to the public, and has a few tips to ensure your tree’s abundance.
“The cardinal rule is to never plant your tree too deep,” says Don Oliver, owner of Delta Tree Farms. When you remove the root ball from the pot, Don suggests trimming the roots if they’re bound tightly around the nursery can. Otherwise, roughen up the edges of the root ball with your hands and separate any encircling roots to encourage them to grow outward.
After trimming or tickling your roots, dig a hole about 1.5 times the size of the container your tree came in. Because you’ll most likely be digging a circular hole, Don notes the importance of circumference. “Make sure you dig a foot and a half all the way around. And ensure that you plant your tree at least an inch above the existing soil line. If you plant too low and add dirt on top of the grade you can easily suffocate and kill the tree.” Because as Don explains, trees breathe just like we do.
Lastly, consider placement. Choose an area that has easy access to both water and drainage—but avoid planting your tree in low areas or between mounds, where water can collect and sit. Because, “This can quickly cause root rot and kill your tree,” Don continues. “Ideally, each plant should be watered slowly and deeply so that the root ball and the soil immediately around it is kept adequately moist during the first season of establishment. And always check the moisture level in the soil before watering.”
With expert advice at your fingertips, now is a better time than ever to invest in the community for generations to come. Dig deep, get your hands dirty, and reap the benefits of a truly giving tree.
“Arbor Day…which has already transplanted itself…to every state in the American Union and has even been adopted in foreign lands…is not like other holidays. Each of those reposes on the past, while Arbor Day proposes for the future.” –J. Sterling Morton
Delta Tree Farms
12900 N. Lower Sacramento Rd., Lodi