Podcast #271 – A Few More Longleafs Every Year

We love longleaf pines. We love the soothing sound of a gentle breeze rustling through a longleaf stand; we love that they do most of their early growing below ground where it counts; and we love that they live many times longer than other pine trees in the south.

And we love that in the uncertain climate we humans face, longleaf pines are our forest’s best hope of survival. Unlike a stand of loblolly pines, which thrive by blocking all light from reaching the forest floor and choking out all understory growth, a forest dominated by longleaf pines always has plenty of diverse herbaceous growth below, which encourages diversity of wildlife. The saying about longleaf pines is that they sleep, creep, and leap, meaning that their above-ground “grass stage” skeleton remains tiny and unimpressive for the first few years while they sink a juggernaut tap root. Then they slowly emerge and begin to grow upward. Then they take off, adding several feet of vertical growth each year. Our January ritual is the planting of a box of 330 longleaf pines, so that’s what we’re doing now. This year we’re focusing on high visibility locations like the driveway between the street and the lodge, the area around the lodge and path to the pond, and the area just west of Veg Hill. Each afternoon for the last several days, Amanda and I have planted 60-70 longleaf pine seedlings.

Listen – 15:37
Fair disclosure: this photo is misleading. Normally I would be manning that iron dibble, Amanda would be slipping in a seedling, and I would be closing up the soil around the seedling while she moved on to the next spot. When we're working efficiently,  we plant a longleaf pine seedling every 15-20 seconds. But somebody's got to take the picture, right?
Fair disclosure: this photo is misleading. Normally I would be manning that iron dibble, Amanda would be slipping in a seedling, and I would be closing up the soil around the seedling while she moved on to the next spot. When we’re working efficiently, we plant a longleaf pine seedling every 40-50 seconds. But somebody’s got to take the picture, right?
One of our treasured resources is the web site maintained by the Longleaf Alliance, which has great information about what sets longleafs apart, how they make a forest tougher, and how to nurture them. Another is the book Looking for Longleaf – The Fall and Rise of an American Forest. Our most valued resource, though, and I’m proud to say this, is my brother Dave Borden, who is passionate about planting and nurturing longleaf pines on the forest land he owns and is always generous to help us with ours. The longleaf pine savanna whose name I was struggling to remember as we recorded the podcast is the Splinter Hill Bog in Baldwin County, Alabama. The Longleaf Breeze Perennial Farm Calendar

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