Green issues have for long been an area of concern for the entire world. With urbanisation, forest cover is decreasing at an alarming pace and people have to learn a sense of responsibility. In a recent survey, Gurgoan reported the maximum decline of forest cover and now stands last in terms of geographical tree cover across the country. Plants Guardian Society was founded in 1994, and we strive to green our neighbourhoods.
One of our projects is to encourage households and families to plant trees in their neighbourhood. Both independent bungalows and housing complexes have some degree of open space. Increasingly, people want to cover these open spaces with concrete. Instead, if they took the trouble to plant even one tree, the difference to the environment would be tremendous.
Planting a tree is not difficult. Make sure you take care of the basics, and then look after it to ensure the tree survives.
Here are a few tips:
l Select the right time of year for planting. Do not plant in late spring or summer because the heat will stress the plant and may cause it to die. The best time to plant a tree is during the monsoons.
l Check to see if there are any local problems that might prevent your digging deep holes. For example, you cannot dig near telephone or other cables.
l Prepare the hole using a suitable shovel. The size of the hole depends on the sapling. Always dig it a little larger than the root circumference, so that the sapling fits in comfortably.
l Dig a hole two-three times the width of the root ball; don’t make it a tight fit. This lets the roots ease in easily and it begins to grow outwards into the soil. It also allows you to cut off the root basket, if there is one. Water the base of the hole and let the water seep through into the surrounding soil.
l Prepare the tree for planting. This process is different for a small tree and a large tree. If it is a small sapling, you can turn it upside down gently to get it out of the pot. If it is a larger tree and comes inside a net or hessian bag, you will need to use large scissors or a sharp knife to cut through the packaging. Don't cut balled and burlapped trees until they are actually sitting in the hole. This prevents root damage when they are dropped into the hole.
lPlace the tree in the hole gently. Be sure the hole isn't too deep or too shallow. The ground level of the plant in the pot should match up with the ground level after you fill the hole in. Do not bury it over the crown (where the stem changes to root) or leave any roots exposed.
l Add fertilizer only after the hole is dug. All plants need fertilizer to thrive; too much and you will burn the leaves or kill the plant. Follow the package directions. A good choice is slow-release fertilizer, available from garden stores.
l Use some compost or composted manure, if needed. If the dirt that you have in your garden is not rich, has clay-like qualities or if it has the consistency of dust or sand, the addition of manure will give the tree a great start in life. Backfill three quarters of the hole with existing dirt, one quarter with compost or composted manure.
l Give fruit and nut trees extra attention. Adding manure or compost becomes very essential if you are planting a fruit or nut tree. Backfill two thirds of the hole with existing dirt and one third with compost or composted manure for each fruit or nut tree.
l Water the newly planted tree. Allow settling, backfill the remaining soil, and water again. This will eliminate air pockets. Give 3.7 litres of water for every six inches of tree height.
l Mulch, mulch, mulch! Cover the planting hole with 1-3 inches (2.5 cm - 7.6 cm) of shredded hardwood or leaf mulch. Do not put mulch against the trunk or it will rot.
l After the planting is finished, come back in about an hour and water one more time.
Enjoy the tree as it grows over the years with you and your family. Appreciate its shade and beauty and thank yourself for adding another tree to the world. Together, we can help the environment and change the present condition of India's forest cover.
The writer is with PlantsGuardian.com.