Thursday, February 28, 2013

Season Begins!!

In spite of the snow outside the greenhouse, the nuts are starting to wake up from their winter dormancy. I'm sharing a close-up profile of a chestnut germling below.

We've planted over 4000 hazelnuts and 900 chestnuts to date.  We wait until they have germinated so that all seeds in a flat are nearly the same developmentally.  By doing so we can ensure watering and other treatments can be provided at near optimal timing for the entire population of plants in a flat.

We use subirrigation via flood-able tables to ensure even water availability to the tublings.  If you are familiar with the leaf size of hazelnuts (or chestnuts) you can readily see how water from an overhead source could be deflected from reaching the surface (and interior) of individual tubes (white containers above and below).  In order to ensure good capillary action we presoak the flats after planting.  Included in this presoak is a combination of beneficial soil organisms in a product called Actinovate.  These organisms become established in the soilless planting medium and help ensure pathogens causing rootrot do not take over.  This is critical for the continued health of the crop as the irrigation water is drained from the tables and reused.

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