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Planting a tree
A tree is planted with lots of passion and the joy of connecting the roots to mother earth is matchless. It is the birth of a new green life on soil to support the animal and human life-system. There are various activities that are carried out before, during and after the plantation (A.K.A: Giving Life to a Tree) of the tree sapling. We have tried to summarize them below.
1) Procuring Tools
Crowbar and Garden Hoe are very important tools to plant saplings. Crowbars are used to dig the pits and loosen the soil bed before planting the sapling and Garden Hoe is used to take the soil out from the pit. Apart from these tools, small iron rods are also used to dig small pits in case of seed sowing activities.
2) Procuring Saplings
Saplings of 5-6 feet sizes are procured from the TN Forest Department nurseries through appropriate approvals from the forest authorities. We choose the saplings according to the place of plantations, its soil texture and water source availability. Various plants we plant include Vengai, Illupai, Naval, Magilam, Fig, Kumil, NeerMaruthu, Thaanrikkai, Poovarasu, Pungai and Mandhaarai
3) Transport Saplings
Transporting saplings from nurseries to the plantation venue is done through small goods carrier vehicles. The saplings are carefully loaded taking into consideration of its size and growth, and then unloaded in the plantation venue. We get the help of TN Forest Department vehicles to transport the saplings locally.
4) Digging Pits
The growth and survival of the plant saplings depends on the way the Plant Pit is made. An average of 1.5 feet to 1 feet are dug depending on the size and variety of the saplings using the tools. The pits are widened with the width of 2-3 feet circumference depending on the type of plants to form the soil beds and water the plant once it is planted.
5) Planting Saplings
The sapling cover that holds the root is cut open carefully, without damaging the roots and the sapling is planted inside the pit with its original soil that held the roots, then filling up the pit with the soil which is dug out. The soil is packed closer and stronger to hold the root and stem of the sapling to be firm and upright. The soil bed around the sapling is then widened and made a bund like shape to hold water and manure.
Mulching is the process of packing the root-soil bed with dry organic materials like grass husk, dry leaves, coconut shells, coir and sugar cane husks after planting the sapling. This process ensures the young root which connected the soil retains water content and moisture for the growth. This is very important for the survival as the root needs to be taken care to not get dried during the initial growth phase of the plant.
Watering the saplings is the process of filling the soil-root bed of the plant with water and ensuring the water stagnation around the roots for the plant. Watering the newly planted sapling is very essential for the survival and strength of the roots which connects the soil bed firmly.
8) Fixing Tree Guards
One another very important method to protect the planted saplings. Tree Guards protect the plants from being eaten away by domestic animals and broken by heavy winds and ensures its growth to be a fully grown tree. We make our own tree guards by cutting the iron mesh, reuse the tree guards which are cut from a fully grown tree, make a natural tree guard by combining thorns and tree barks and by wired meshes.
Apart from all the core activities,
* Giving preference to Native trees is always best approach which is capable enough to withstand natural disaster like flooding,cyclones..etc and these plants survive in environment and soil even during peak summer and life time of the these trees are more than 100 years easily.
* Identify the sapling which is suitable for the place, How to do it ? It is simple, Look around the trees grown there already which can be chosen for plantation. For example, If lake is chosen for plantation, It is best to have the trees which attracts birds to nest and kind of fruit bearing saplings to birds and the sapling that withstand even high amount water poured around the roots. Understand the bio-diversity and plant saplings accordingly.
* Obtaining permission from the official/local/groups which is key factor to be considered before doing any plantation and also make sure somebody from the locality would take care of the planted sapling and monitor its growth and survival on a regular basis. It is not just about plantation, one has to maintain the planted sapling till to grows into a tree. Keep in touch with the locals periodically and conducting maintenance drives on the planted areas would also yield better results.
* Tree guard is MUST for any open area/street/roads plantation. If there is no scope to fix tree guard for saplings then pick the saplings which will not be eaten by cows or other animals.
* Applying manure periodically on the planted saplings is also best way to make the trees grows faster and healthier.