Dig and Sell Native Trees

You can spread a lot of beauty—and bring home more than $100 a day—when you dig and sell native trees.

| March/April 1979

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    William widens and deepens his trench.
    MIKE BENSEN
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    Having selected his sapling, Bill clips away ground brush and prunes any unnecessary or awkward branches
    PHOTO: MIKE BENSEN
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    William then digs underneath from the edge with this spade.
    MIKE BENSEN
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    William gently slips the moisture-retaining burlap under the root ball. 
    MIKE BENSEN
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    Wrapping and tying the material.
    MIKE BENSEN
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    For the "chop" stroke, turn the spade 180 degrees so that the face of the blade is toward the tree.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
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    After carefully rolling the arboreal moneymaker out of its hole, Bill's ready to load it into his pickup truck
    MIKE BENSEN
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    The "chip-chop" digging method: the shovel starts with its "back" toward the tree. This "chip" stroke—made at a deep angle—loosens one side of the piece of earth.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
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    When the trench is complete, use same method to angle in and remove the earth from beneath the necessary portion of the root structure
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
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    Lift out the narrow wedge of soil. Follow this pattern until you've dug a trench all the way around the tree.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
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    White or gray birches make good shade trees.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
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    Aspens are a popular ornamental native tree.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
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    The white pine produces sturdy lumber.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
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    Maples come in a wide variety of species. Most produce sap that can be turned into maple syrup.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

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What's that? You want a homestead, an alternative energy source, or a unique, low-cost house that you've just designed, but you don't have the bucks to make it all happen?

Well, chin up and chest out! 'Cause I may have an idea that can help alleviate your financial dilemma and open up doors to the development of your project or dream. You see, I've found that I can dig and sell native trees, and that this occupation allows me to beautify the homes of other folks while I build up my bank account! Furthermore—once you invest in a little knowledge, a bit of practice, and a few tools—transplanting trees isn't a tremendously difficult task, and  in most areas you'll find an eager buyer for every sapling you can dig!

Before you grab your shovel and head for the woods, however, you should know that the "do-it-yourself tree nursery" business is definitely a seasonal occupation because the weather plays a vital part in the lives of your growing "stock." You see, trees should—if they're to have the best possible chance of survival—be transplanted when they are at least partially dormant. In the case of deciduous trees (those that lose their leaves in the autumn) this "safe" period runs from just after the leaves fall until immediately before the new buds show growth in the spring.

Now evergreens, of course, don't lose all their needles (unless the tree is so unhealthy that you wouldn't want it anyway), but these pines, spruce, etc. can be transplanted with good success after the first frost and prior to the appearance of the new, lighter green growth that heralds the coming of warm weather.



In most parts of the U.S., this "digging season" will obviously be limited by the fact that the ground may be frozen solid during the midwinter. An industrious digger can, however (as you will see!), put together a pretty impressive income while the weather is "right."

In the Beginning

Probably the best way to get started in any business is with a little bit of self-education. This means that—first and foremost—you should learn all about your native trees, get to know their habits, their good and bad points, etc. And, about the best way to get a "crash course" in these subjects is to locate a retired nurseryman or landscaper. Many of these fine old men and women will be genuinely pleased to discover that you're interested in the knowledge they've picked up over the years.






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