City creates gravel bed tree nursery
BEMIDJI - The city's Public Works Facility now boasts a gravel bed nursery, thanks to the help of the Department of Forest Resources at the University of Minnesota.
"We used to purchase 200- to 300 -pound burlap (root) ball trees that took a Bobcat to lift and two employees to handle it," said Gregg Strandlien, parks foreman. "The trees we purchased this year are bare root stock, one-third the price but the same size. One employee can handle the planting saving us a lot of man hours."
According to Marcia Larson, parks and recreation director, $2,500 in grant money from the University of Minnesota paid for a raised gravel bed. The city purchased 35 bare root trees that were planted in the bed. In the fall, the trees will be transplanted into city boulevards or parks where needed.
Bemidji is just one of seven Minnesota cities participating in the gravel bed nursery program.
The University has found gravel bed stock after four months have a more fibrous root system. The fibrous roots allow a transplanted tree to immediately begin to absorb water and nutrients from soil. Planted in the fall, gravel bed stock does have a higher survival rate than bare-root stock planted in the spring. Spring planting in some areas of the state can result in significant mortality thought wind desiccation, heavy flooding and drought.
"Normally we purchase around 25 trees a year," Larson said. "This will significantly lower the cost of the trees and allow us to purchase more trees and more diversity of tree species."