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Today’s post is from u/Suuperdad who answers the question: “What is your ‘fake it til you make it’ story?”
A while ago I decided to stop complaining about environmental destruction, climate change, etc, and ACT. So I started planting trees.
Keep in mind I had no training in this, I never even gardened before. I considered myself a “brown thumb”. I researched how to do it and it seemed pretty easy. But everything died. I’d plant a tree exactly how they said, but it wouldn’t survive. I had to baby them so much, just to get them through their first year, and maybe half would make it. But I just kept planting and planting and “faking” I knew what I was doing.
Then I came accross stuff by Dr. Elaine Ingham on soil science and it kind of changed everything for me. It made a whole lot of sense. Ecosystems transition from deadland, to weed pit, to grass land, to brushland to forest. As they do, the soil microbiology changes from dead soil to bacterial dominated soil, to fungal dominated soil. So the correct way to plant trees is actually to transition the soil to forest soil as fast as possible.
Nature takes thousands of years of weeds dying, and then grasses dying and soil life building and building, to a small woody shrub, which then eventually dies, and NOW it changes. NOW everything changes. Woody material on the ground means FUNGUS can move in. It’s game over at this point, and you will transition to a forest now. So the correct way to plant a tree is to speed yourself to this point by dropping woodchips on the ground and letting the soil chemistry change. After a few months (or even better, a year), NOW plant your trees into the environment they want to live in.
Well that changed everything, and now I go around planting mini starting forests everywhere on my land, in wild places, abandoned lots, etc. I’ve seen little pockets of life I’ve planted turn from a few trees to a small thicket. At this point, it’s unstoppable and the land heals.
It’s an incredibly rewarding hobby, but one you must take very seriously. Anytime you plant something, you set in motion wheels of change, so you must know what you are planting. For this reason I stick to local native trees, shrubs, herbs, flowers. Things that exist all around me. That’s good for many reasons, the least of which isn’t free genetic material (seeds) to make this hobby 100% free.
What is really rewarding though is driving to work and seeing a bird perched on an apple tree that I planted, in a cluster of life with bees buzzing around the apple, haskap and lovage and borage and strawberries and asparagus, clover, fruit tree guild. Looking and seeing apple sapplings bursting up through the sweet cicely. The ecosystem has it’s foothold in now, and will replicate itself, sequestering carbon and healing the soil LONG after I’m gone.
So I started as someone who considered themself a “brown thumb”, and with a little action and knowledge seeking, I now have pockets of life all around my community that are expanding and growing, that I was the catalyst for creating. That’s a legacy right there. And that’s how we reverse climate change and give our children a world worth living in.