Fall harvest at Johnson’s Nursery, and autumn in Wisconsin, is a special time. Roadsides are painted in orange, red, and yellow. The air smells crisp and it’s time to get out the sweaters. The cooler temperatures invite most people to slow down from our busy summer schedules in preparation for winter, but at Johnson’s Nursery we still have a lot of work to do.
Because certain trees can only be dug in spring, we take the opportunity to stock our holding yards with plenty of trees that tolerate fall harvesting. Sugar Maples, Kentucky Coffeetrees, Japanese Tree Lilacs, and certain Crabapple varieties are some of the trees that can safely be harvested right now.
Fall is a fabulous time for installing trees because warm soil and cool nights encourage root development. If these balled & burlapped beauties don’t find a home in someone’s yard before the ground is frozen, they will be safely healed into our holding yards for the winter, ready to go after the spring thaw.
Frozen ground doesn’t have to mean the end of tree installations. Trees that are 7” caliper or larger transplant better when they are dormant. Straw bales spread around the root zone prevents the frost from moving in and a large tree spade allows us to harvest in late winter and transport the trees to their new home.
Moving big trees in winter minimizes transplant shock. Even oak trees, which are typically spring dug only, can be installed in this manner.
Installing deciduous trees in fall is like putting that extra blanket on your bed. After a hot summer, the best sleep is when chilly air is drifting through the window and you are warm and snug under the covers. We are just tucking the trees into the ground before winter comes.