Thursday, June 19, 2008

Tree Planting Tips and Ginko Facts

Tree Planting Tips and Ginko Facts

We got a new ginkgo tree to replace our dead dogwood that we planted last year. After some research (me walking around our house with a compass), I finally figured out that the problem was that our house sits about 5 ยบ and that was why it was only getting a couple hours of sun a day. So after I stopped by Prairie Gardens and impulse bought a tree I realized that I still had to get it home.

I did get a lot of looks and even some honking and waving, and then I remembered some MacBeth





Be lion-mettled, proud; and take no care
Who chafes, who frets, or where
conspirers are:
MacGutzmer shall never vanquish'd be until
Great Birnam
wood to high Dunsinane hill
Shall come against him.

Well now I guess I also have that to worry about.

Here is my guide to planting trees (gleaned from several uncited websites, sorry Brett) mixed in with interesting facts about Ginkgos.

1) Choose a good location
This was obviously a problem for me last time so this time I turned to science/“the internet”.
I spent way too much time on this site and scoping out my yard with a compass ( I am sure the neighbors think I am crazy now), and eventually figured out that if I moved it over 3 ft that it would get full sun except a couple hours in the morning during June and July.

Ginkgo trees are dioecious (They have male and female trees)
The male trees are relatively odorless, while the female trees produce a fruit that smells like rancid butter. This is a stark contrast to the Gutzmer house where if anyone smells like rancid butter it is the male.

2) Dig a BIG Hole
The whole should be about 3 times the total diameter of the root ball (at least twice) and about twice as deep (at least 1.5 times). This will give the roots some loosened soil to spread out into and help with drainage and watering. Oh and save the top soil separately from the clay especially in if you are in a new development like me where there is only 4-6 in of topsoil. I got a little carried away on the digging

Ginkgo’s are one of the oldest living species.
The date back more than 270,000,000 years, well before the dinosaurs who did not even make it around until somewhere around 50M years later.

3) Backfill the hole with the topsoil
Remember all that topsoil that you dug out and kept separate?
Throw that into the hole. Fill it up so that it is about the depth of the root ball (plastic pot). Tamp it down so it is not too loose. If there is excess air caught in there it could cause mold.

Ginkgos are on the endangered species list.
It’s true. I know it seems odd that I could purchase them so easily within a mile of my house, yet it is fairly well documented. So in a way I am helping to preserve a species at the brink of extinction. I guess that gives me more incentive not to kill this one.

4) Set the tree and fill around with more topsoil
Pull the root ball out of the pot. Set the tree firmly in the center of the hole and get it pointed in the direction you want it to be. Make sure it is vertical and facing the direction you want it to face. Now loosen up the root ball a little with your fingers or if it has especially tight roots around the outside use a fork some may tear it is ok it will get bound up if it is too tight. Now fill around it with more topsoil. If it looks like you are going to run short mix bagged topsoil with what you got out of the hole. This will be likely if you dug out much clay form the hole.

Ginkgo Trees are the only living member of their: Genus, Family, Order, Class, and Division.
For this reason they are often referred to as living fossils. Almost all Ginkgo relatives died more than 150 Million Years ago. They are noted by their fan shaped leaves with bifurcating veins and growth shoots.

5) Stake and stabilize the tree
Pat all of the soil down around the tree so that it is nice and firm without any voids. I like to get the longest plastic stake I can find and send it down adjacent to the trunk and as far as it will go. Then a little further into the hard clay. Then tie to the tree with some string twine or something that will not harm the trunk. If it will be in a windy area put stakes around the perimeter of the hole outside of where you were digging and tie those to the stake that is stabilizing the trunk.

Ginkgo trees can live for 1000s of years.
There are some monks in China that have some that are over 1500 years old. They are kept as a symbol of Buddhism and Confucianism.

6) Mulch and Fertilizer
Now that everything is set the tree is going to want some food. You can put some slow release fertilizer on top of the soil. If you want you can mix some in with the soil while you are filling in around the root ball. Fertilizer usually causes a rapid spurt of new growth. The new growth will not be as tolerant of harsh winter weather so it is better to fertilize in the spring/early summer not in the late summer or fall. In addition to fertilizer mulch will very slowly deteriorate and release nutrients into the soil. As an added bonus it will help to hold moisture in and keep the tree area from being a big mud hole.

Ginkgo Trees can loose all of there leaves in a single day.
Unlike other trees that may take weeks or months to loose all of their leaves, typical Ginkgo trees loose all of their fan like leaves over the course of 1-3 days. Before they start to fall they turn a bright golden yellow.


7) Water Water Water
Now you have everything planted and you are done right?
Not remotely. The first year watering is key especially if you are planting late in the season (hello.)
I like to really hose the soil down after the planting and tamp it down some more with my foot just to make sure it is all nice and compacted. After that trees like deep watering that promotes deep root growth. You can get one of those fancy bags they sell at the store or just drill a couple of 1/16 – 1/8” holes in a 5 gallon bucket, the smaller the better. Now you can fill that and set it over the tree. Move the hole closer to the trunk earlier to make sure the tree is happy during the transplant and further away after some time to promote root growth. Do that a couple of times a week for 2 years and you should be good.

Ginkgo Trees are especially tolerant of different types of soils, weather conditions, pollution, disease, and insects.
They thrive in urban areas (though they are still endangered), and can grow into very large shade trees (growing to 20-30m). They are so robust that 4 Ginkgo trees actually survived within 1-2km of the Hiroshima Blast. They were the only living things that survived that close to the blast and are still alive in the city today.




Be bloody, bold, and resolute; laugh to scorn
The power of man, for none of woman born
Shall harm MacGutzmer.

I'm watching you Elliot

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Spike

The Spike
Last week Cara and I got a new tandem Tonino Lamborghini and after several missed deleveries and going to the scary FedEx Ground terminal to pick it up I finally got it home and put it together. The first test ride @ 1am was a little sketchy, and unstable. After I figured out that I had the front fork on backward it was substantially easier to get around on. also as an added bonus it was not hitting my shoe whenever I turned.
We took it on a 30 tour of the neighborhood on Tue (I did not want to get too far away from the house until after the test ride. Everything seemed good, but the back brakes were still pretty soft. I tightened those some more and hopefully everything will be fine.
I ordered some accessories on Thu off of "the internet". Including a computer so we will know what incredible speeds we reach and som lights for night biking. Hopefully they will be here next week. We rode the bike to church this morning and made pretty decent time. so you might see us more around town. If you do honk and wave. We will try not to swerve off the road or into your car.
Oh... the nickname... When we were discussing it I told Cara that I was going to order "this bike" (the one we had been discussing). She retorted with The Spike? This went on for some time.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Highlights from Oregon

Highlights from Oregon

After the incredibly timely and incredibly long Las Vegas live blog, I figured that I would just summarize the Oregon trip in 4 brief highlights inter mingled with 4 interesting facts about Oregon.

Day 1
Well Day1 pretty much consisted of traveling. We flew out of ORD and arrived in Portland at around midnight just a short 3 hour drive through the mountains and we were there. I guess the highlight would be our new GPS that we got. When you are exhausted and on a road you are not familiar with it is very nice to have an overly helpful navigator always barking out directions. Also fun you can mount to the inside of your airplane window and see where you are and get all sorts of fun info about how fast you are going

Fun Fact:
Montana is huge… Seriously it is ridiculous. It took half of our trip just to fly over Montana.
Also Oregon is cougar country, so watch out young men.

Day 2
After sleeping in everyone finally made it up and went to the bouncy house. Basically just a bunch of those inflatable carnival games in a big carpeted warehouse. The Entry is $5 for children, but then adults can bounce for free… FOR FREE. Apparently they thought that the adults would be more interested in watching their children. FOOLS. Anyway after a couple of hours of running through the obstacle course and throwing young children around the bouncy things with reckless abandon for their safety I was kind of tired. Also I got sent to a time out by my niece. The time out consisted of bouncing with them in the bouncy castle the concept may be lost on them.

Fun Fact:
When you move to Oregon you are given a choice of 2 vehicles. 1) Any kind of Subaru 2) Pickup truck (a big one probably 4x4). There are still some stragglers out there, but it is only a matter of time before the overwhelming peer pressure catches up with them. Volvo’s may be substituted for Subaru’s with a written justification.

Day 3
In the morning we hiked to the top of pilot butte. It was a good hike and a great view. While we were up there the kids ran around aimlessly and then we hiked back down for nap time... sweet nap time. That night we went to an 80s party. Outfits ranged from elaborate Crocket and Tubs to 80 prom dresses to numerous 80s rock T-shirts Extra Credit was given OEM 80s wear. As a bonus my tight rolling skills were still as honed as ever, even on Caras bellbottom jeans(not meant to be tight rolled).

Fun Fact:
Oregon does not have any sales tax. So when you got to buy something that is $19.95 at Target your bill is 19.95. It is kind of weird buying stuff.

Day 4
Highlight :

We went to the park with the nieces and played on all of the playground equipment, and learned to count our way across the monkey bars in several different languages. I think I may have led the children astray on the German counting, but who really needs 11 of anything. Then there was a Sly and the Family Stone cover band in the park. We laid on blankets in the sun and took it all in while a woman on the stage in a white wig twirled and marched around to the music. I think she was with the band, but who knows. We ended the day with a cookout with Cara’s cousin who also lives in bend and her daughter and played “ladderball” “hillbilly golf” “boloball” that we had spent a ridiculous amount of time driving around trying to find earlier that day.

Fun Fact:
You are not allowed to pump your own gas in Oregon. It is all full serve by law. I don’t really know what the point is and it is kind of frustrating when you do not know what is going on and you just want to get some gas. Maybe it is some sort of job creation thing or maybe it is a safety thing, either way it was all kindof weird. Also do you tip the gas fillers? Should you get out of your car and talk to them? Do you get out of your car at all?
Gas Guy (GG): What do you need?
Me: Gas?
GG: How much?
Me: All of it… Fill’ er up (I knew that phrase would come in handy eventually)
Me: (giving the gas guy a wad of bills) thanks.
GG: Uhh you have to take this inside with this ticket
I took the ticket inside with the same wad of bills. There was a group of about 4 people standing in the vicinity of the cash register. I asked them if they were in line and they said they were waiting to pay for gas (yet they were not doing anything). A couple of seconds later the cahier said #7. I looked at my ticket and there was a large 7 on it. I exclaimed “That’s me”, probably a little too loudly and w/ more excitement than anyone was used to. I paid and gave them the ticket, and then as I was walking away was informed that I needed to take the now stamped ticket back to the Gas Guy. [sigh] I had already moved my car, so I drove around the station lot a couple of times looking for the guy. All in all I would have rather just gotten my own gas.

The real question is what to the Oregon people do when they come to Illinois. Do they need some special instruction on how to pump gas when they get here. Well at least if I looked marginally retarded trying to deal with their gas system they will look equally retarded when they get here.

Day 5
We went out to breakfast in the morning and then drove back across the mountains to some wineries. We stumbled on a nice free one right at the beginning with an awesome view of the valley. Then we tried a few more that were not as good or closed. The GPS we got nuvi200w performed admirably for the entire trip, then as we were trying to get to one of the wineries it took us through the parking lot of another winery and then into the vineyard. The roads got smaller and smaller till eventually we were just driving through a field. I am sure that if we kept following it we would have gotten out eventually, but we opted to turn around. We ended up going to a different winery where there was a rather inebriated group from Boston. Nothing like a bunch of drunk asses to make you look like a responsible wine coinsurer.

Fun Fact:
The Portland airport has FREE wireless, and happy hour specials $2.50 microbrew pints, and $3 gourmet burgers… and happy hour goes from 5 – midnight. It is weird not to be screwed in the airport. But bottled water was still $3 so I guess it is all relative. Also note that if you are trying to check luggage with wine in it United will make you buy some stupid box to put it in.

Bonus Fact:
The Oregon flag has two seperate sides. The back side has a picture of a beaver, much to the shagrin of all Oregon middle school boys.