Sunday, February 25, 2007

Dune Restoration - Planting out

I spent Saturday with the Beach Garden Project, in Marina (Monterey County, CA). I finally took my plants that I had sprouted out to the beach to be planted out. Here's a shot of the Artemesia from January 27th:

I may have mentioned that my beach aster (Lessingia filaginifolia) hadn't sprouted much. I thought perhaps I hadn't collected the seed properly or perhaps some other blunder. But Joey (the project coordinator) said the soil mix was too mossy and many of them had failed. So it wasn't just me. (phew!) On the other hand, my Sagewort (Artemisia pycnocephala) was very healthy and nearly every cell had a plant. (And by February it was lush and shaggy) She was delighted to see such a healthy tray. Here's a long distance shot of my tray as the plants are being positioned onto the dune:

After spending the morning transplanting into sand dunes, I will never complain about my garden soil again. You have to dig a little to get beyond the dry drifting sand, and then make sure that the wet sand is all around the transplant. Then you make a water well around the plant, and I'll admit, there were some dry spots that made that pretty challenging. Also, each of the plants have to be oriented the correct direction behind the straw wind break. Basically the straw plugs are placed into the dune to help stabilize the sand sheet. By observing which way the wind predominately blows from, the transplant is placed behind the break to give it some protection. Add to this the steep and crumbly hill you are working on, it makes for a difficult task. Here's a planted transplant:

And here's a picture of the straw plugs that are placed in the fall to stabilize the sand sheet. Some of the plants have already been planted in this photo:

There were about 15 volunteers who showed up and we were able to transplant about 1,000 plants. The project volunteers sprouted about 10,000 plants and had transplanted 9,000 on weekends during January and February. What is unique about this dune restoration project is the variety of native species that are started and transplanted. There are up to 20 different plant species that are used. This is more species than other projects attempt to propagate. Here is a sample:

So we finished transplanting, cleaned up our trays and cell plugs, and hoped that the clouds would bring a little rain for the transplants (which it did lightly sprinkle). Despite the sore muscles, I felt good knowing that I'd done a small good deed in the larger garden of the world.

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