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How to Plant a Tree

stephanie-helps-plant-a-treeFirst get the tree and then offer to ‘help’ plant it. Oh and make sure you have your safety shoes on so you do not get hurt digging that hole. Or you can do like I did and forget the safely shoes, wear the old flip flops and sit down and give advice.

My step-father, Joe Festerling has a small wholesale nursery and grows many of Behnke’s beautiful perennials, trees and shrubs. The other day when I mentioned that I really liked his red oaks, he said “well pick one out.” You did not have to tell me twice. I drove our truck down to load it up and he also gave me a small pin oak tree and a red maple.  Hmmm, now how to tell my husband they needed to be planted. He knew I was getting one tree…but not three. But we have three acres that desperately needed something… Trees!

I know you have heard the old saying “the best time to plant a tree was 30 years ago, the second best time is today.” So true! Once home, I assured my guy that I would help him plant the trees. It was still early morning and sorta cool, so I figured what the heck, it can’t be that hard. That was until we had to decide where said trees needed to go and then get ALL the supplies.. Who knew! Wheel barrow, shovel, mattock, Holly Tone, peat moss, a pot for rocks, a pot for grass… I was tired before we even started.

Our back yard is very hard clay soil, made harder after years of being a wholesale nursery. The area where this little tree went used to be a gravel parking lot and I was very impressed with my husband’s digging skills. Could he ever swing a mattock!  At this point, I got him some water and proceeded to give some much needed advice. My big job was taking the rocks to a ditch and the old grass to a weed pile, since I did not have the appropriate foot wear. Once planted, we put a stake in it to keep it straight and then took chicken wire and formed a circle around the tree so our friendly deer would leave it alone.

It did not take long after the tree was planted for the deer to check it out. I don’t think they were too happy about the chicken wire. I have to admit now that I did not help with the other two trees. Jon got up early both Monday and Tuesday morning and planted them without me. I guess my help was not needed, or was it my advice?  Oh and he ordered me a pair of Red Wing work boots. Sigh…

by Stephanie Fleming, Behnke’s Vice President

Stephanie Fleming was raised at Behnke’s Nurseries in Beltsville. Her Mom, Sonja, was one of Albert & Rose Behnke’s four children. She was weeding from the moment she could walk and hiding as soon as she was old enough to run, so many weeds, so little time. Although she quickly learned how to pull out a perennial and get taken off of weed pulling duty.

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