Ever chance to notice the arrangement of trees around old houses? The encroachment of statist culture has wrought many changes in the landscape of our lives, one of the most profound being a loss of useful and common sensical wisdom.
Before the advent of central air and heating people took advantage of natural barriers against the extremities. Deciduous trees were planted along the western/ northwestern side of a home, providing shade in the summer while allowing full sun exposure in winter once the leaves fell. Evergreens situated to the north or northwest provided a windbreak. My neighbor’s house has a beautiful Southern Catalpa (Catalpa bignonioides) guarding that western exposure; its large leaves and white spring blossoms make it quite distinctive. A drive into the countryside will give any observer a chance to see a catalpa. Again and again, you will see them situated along the west side of old homes…old trees, clearly as old as the homes they guard, tall and majestic. It is one of the first to drop its leaves in autumn and one of the first to bud in springtime. Clearly, the wisdom of another time is evident in these trees. And the catalpa is a hardy tree. I live in hurricane country, and I cannot recall ever seeing one downed by a storm. That wisdom is ours to share; it is not lost, but it certainly needs to be salvaged.
Here’s an idea how: selling trees! Yes, starting a gray market nursery of sorts! You can spread awareness and make a little money on the side for your effort. Does your town or city have a farmer’s market? A local swap meet? With a little research and a bit of treasure hunting, you can spread the good word of natural energy efficiency. Find out what kind of fast growing shade trees are native to your area. The Arbor Day Foundation is a quick and excellent resource.
Here, along the gulf coast, Southern Catalpa is an ideal tree…pods can be easily collected and planted after overwintering. Within a few days they will sprout, giving you a good idea of how many trees you will have to sell. The Northern Catalpa (Catalpa speciosa) is equally easy to grow and is suited to zones 4-8. Other trees that grow quickly and provide excellent shade are the River Birch (Betula nigra) and the Red Maple (Acer rubrum)…again, a little research should yield results for ideal plantings in your area.
Once you have decided on a tree, the adventure really begins. Sure, you could buy the seeds. That would increase your overhead, but stashing away your loose change may very well cover it. Finding a tree and collecting the seeds yourself is another option, if you should find access. My source is right next door, so seed collection is just steps away. Actually, some seed pods fell into my yard, so I’m good to go. Next, dirt and pots must be lined up. A couple of bags of potting soil should do the trick, but a shovel and the dirt where you’re standing will also work. I am one of those people who pick up discarded ‘junk’, so I have a nice collection of old black plastic nursery planters and such. Ask around; you may find pots for planting readily available.
Every tree has its own seed planting process. Again, do the research; it won’t take long and it will help ensure success in sprouting your saplings. Once your seeds are planted and your trees sprout, you can enjoy watching them grow as you complete the final stage in your enterprise: marketing. Contact your local farmer’s market and find out how to get involved. This may require a small fee, but often these markets are fee-free. Your marketing angle is the real gem because it’s the old wisdom of energy efficiency. You can tell your potential customers all about the benefits of strategic tree plantings, spreading valuable information and trees! It’s a win/win situation. In your research, you may find excellent ‘sells’. For example, maple trees are great in urban areas because they are pollution tolerant. Gray market trees have great potential for self- learning, spreading ideas and planting trees. Getting involved with your local farmer’s market will widen your horizons and your network. It’s a beautiful scheme! So get out there and find some seeds. Plant them and watch them grow. When the time is right, you can sell them for a tidy sum. Plant some herbs or appealing flowers, additionally, and you’ll have a nice variety of offerings for the market. A true portable nursery.
If your trees don’t sell, then you will have an opportunity to practice some guerilla gardening…planting trees combats the urban-heat island effect. So plant them! Whether you make a little extra money on the side or not, you will have experienced the wonder of growing, and that is priceless!