Introduction: How to Raise Native Plants

At the Newberg High School greenhouse, we raise thousands of native tree and shrub species for field and stream restoration. A are sold at our annual plant sale. In this Instructable, you will learn how we raise the plants and grow them to a healthy size for use in our projects.

High school students complete the projects with the help of the teachers, staff, and volunteers. 

Step 1: Saplings

We get our bare root saplings from the Yamhill County Soil and Water Conservation District (YCSWCD) native plant sale. This saves us the time of propagating the plants without significantly increasing the cost.  Once we receive the shipment, we divide the plants by type and keep them in moist bark dust until they can be individually planted.

You can also grow the trees from seeds, starting them in standard 4-inch pots. This is what the students at NHS do. 

Step 2: A Place for the Plants

To hold all the potted plants, we built 12-by-3-foot boxes with pressure-treated lumber boards measuring 2-by-10-inches-by-12 feet. We cover the boxes with wire that has square holes that measure about 2 inches-by-4 inches. The wire mesh serves as a table.

Along the width of the planter box, we cut the wire at the mid-point of every other square. We then bend the wires down, toward the middle of the wire that's still attached to the mesh. The wire kind of looks like a bent staple. We skip three rows of wire along the mesh and repeat the process until we reach the end of the planter. 

We make two or three "tables" per row, leaving enough space between them for a wheelbarrow or cart. The students fill the table with potted plants and trees, butting the planters next to each other to make watering and fertilizing faster and more efficient.   

Step 3: The Planters We Use

We us tall garden pots that are about 20 inches tall and 4-inches square. These big pots give the plants enough room to develop deep, healthy roots.

A benefit of using planters is dirt containment. Planting thousands of trees, which is what the students at NHS do, requires a lot of dirt. Using garden pots minimizes messes.

Step 4: Start Planting!

Planting the young trees in a garden pot it easy. Fill about half a planter with dirt and tamp it down a bit. 

Place the tree in the planter, ensuring that the roots are inside the container. As you do this, hold the tree just above the roots -- at the crown -- and fill the pot with more dirt. Tamp down the dirt some more to remove any air pockets within the soil. The dirt should reach a 1/4-inch from the top of the planter.   

We place about six garden pots in a large planter. Doing this makes the smaller pots simpler and faster to move from one place in the garden to another. 

(Sorry for the rotated pictures, hopefully it isn't that confusing)

Step 5: A New Home & the Waiting Game

After placing the smaller garden pots in the larger planters, the students place the planters on the wire tables (See Step 2). We leave the plants on the tables as they grow. 

When roots start to poke out of the bottom of the smaller planters, the trees and plants are ready for use in the field and stream restoration projects, planting in area parks or for the high school plant sales. 

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