Saturday, August 25, 2012

Soil, Seabuckthorn, and Seboeis, Maine

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This is a short, low quality video of the newly cleared land in Seboeis Maine.  Low quality means it would be not good to view full-screen.  Smaller is better.

The plan here in Maine is to establish the largest Seabuckthorn Farm in Maine and even New England!  

Some History
The 45 acres here has a long history and I'll start with the mowing down of trees by the early Europeans and their sending the trees back home.  The extremely large trees of the colonial era were just a curiosity by the mid 1800's and are now non-existent.  The land I own has been cut over many times since then.  I purchased it 13 years ago and it has been managed for the last 13 years to maximize diversity of native plants and trees.  What might be able to see in the video has a different goal. 
The field area was most recently clearcut about 20 years ago and was mostly hardwoods.   When you cut a hardwood tree, maple for instance, it sprouts from the stump and where you had one large tree there can be 25 or more sprouts.  These along with their neighbor trees compete for the sun so hard they grow very tall and very thin and unhealthy for a tree of their type.  They can be thinned and I have done that on many acres here with good results.  These few acres converted to farmland will help balance all that preservation with, hopefully a thriving Seaberry farm.  Who knows? Time will tell all.

The Soil
After the cutting of the trees, some very large equipment was brought in to "pluck" the stumps, shake the soil out of them and set them out of the new field. I still have a lot of bull work to do, big machines are not tidy and there are rocks etc to remove.  

New England soil is typically leans toward the acid side and fertility here on the ridge was not expected to be great.  

I was glad to see without any amendments of lime or fertilizer the Ph was @ 6.8 and the fertility was pretty good.


With amendments of lime and organic fertilizer both improved.  Ph is now @ 6.5 and fertility is up.  I used Milorganite fertilizer which is basically dried bacteria.  Good stuff really and safe for the environment. Unlike chemical fertilizers, it contains 85% organic matter which improves soil microbial activity and it doesn't leach into the area water sources.

Field Plants
It is recommended to eliminate weeds, grass etc before planting Seabuckthorn seedlings.  I have done the opposite.  This new field needs to be stabilized and the soil improved.  I have planted a variety of species.  Aslike Clover, Red Clover, White Clover, Timothy hay, Orchard Grass, Oats, Turnips, Tricale  and others.  Most of the clover was just planted yesterday and should have enough time to establish itself before winter.
The grasses were planted about a month ago and are doing well.  I'm a bit lucky since there was an extended period without significant rain.  My water well here is not large enough for significant irrigation and the gasoline cost to run the generator for he pump would be very high.

This is a Seabuckthorn seedling planted this spring in Massachusetts and now transplanted to the new field in Maine.  The first of many.

Melissa F. from Springfied writes:  Why don't you just plant a thousand plants right now?

Great idea!  The thing is this whole thing is a hobby and I am not super human.  You watch too many movies.

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  1. Keep up the great work Tom! Keep planting sea buckthorn so we can keep writing about it when people try yours! : )

  2. Love your site, Sea Buckthorn Insider, lots of good info. I have not focused on the health benefits as of yet. So far for me, it is about my successes and failures of cultivation. Do you know of any American berry growers who commercially produce the fruit?