The Isle of Man Woodland Trust buys all saplings from a small local business called Manx Native Trees, whose owner Steve Prescott is one of our Directors. Manx Native Trees grows as many trees as it can from Manx seed and cuttings. Trees are usually about 2 years old and about 60 centimeter tall or more when they are planted in the countryside, although slower growing trees such as oaks may be held for 3-4yrs to gain height.
We have found that waiting for a tree to reach around 60 centimeter tall will help prevent it becoming smothered by long grass and other growth when planted.
Most of the trees are now grown within 8″ deep root trainers. Each trainer has a 2″ square slot which causes the roots to grow vertically downwards, and excess roots are ‘trimmed off’ when becoming exposed to the air. We have found a much greater success rate for survival using this growing method when the tree is planted in the ground, because the roots will be encouraged to grow deeper into the soil to find water, as opposed to pot-grown trees which encourage roots to grow in a circular root cluster.
Transport of young trees in a normal car is also made much easier because up to 40 trees are held in a basket less than 60 cm square, and up to 500 trees can be grown on an area the size of a normal wooden pallet.
Growing trees in this way is an enormously rewarding experience, and one of the great pleasures that we have is seeing a basket of root trainers containing up to 40 trees all bursting into young life, containing trees no higher than a tiny shoot that one day could be a 25 meter landmark growing in a field.