The weather has finally cooperated and spring digging at White House Natives has begun. In order to give our plants the best chance of survival they must be dug when they are dormant. We have brought in our professional diggers with over 20 years of experience to assist our team with this large undertaking. They have the proper equipment and staff to efficiently process our digging needs. Our goal of digging over 800 trees in two days was reached.
The digging process requires teamwork, a tremendous amount of skill and expertise in order to get just the right root ball size for each specific plant. Eric has pre tagged each tree to be dug with a unique identifying ribbon, based on variety and size. Each tree then has their trunks wrapped with a protective fabric to reduce any chances of damage during the digging, hauling out, loading or unloading process. Baskets are laid out prior to digging as double check the day before. When crews arrive they start to tie up any lower branches and heads that we have worked so hard to prune and promote over the past few years.
The actual digging with a hydraulic spade attached to a skid loader only takes about 1 minute with an operator and spotter to ensure trunks are centered in the root ball. The rest of the processes continues to be more labor- intensive. It then takes 7 more people to keep up with one spade. Their tasks include hand shaping the ball, removing excess soil around the root flare, wrapping and securing the burlap, lacing the root ball with sisal, crimping the basket to make it tight around the ball and tying any heads that could not be reached prior to digging. The trees are now ready to be hauled out of the field and staged for loading. The final step is the loading of tractor trailers to get the trees out to our customers in the mid-Atlantic. We only use a hauling company with over 30 years of experience that specializes in transporting nursery stock, with knowledgeable and reliable drivers and trucks.
We realized last year that with the amount of handling each tree has prior to getting to the end customer, this can potentially put a tremendous amount of stress on the root balls. In order to reduce this stress and any potential damage, we have invested in a set of hydraulic forks (see picture) that conform to the shape of each root ball. Damage can be both aesthetic, with rips in the burlap or misshapen balls or, more importantly, horticultural; the actual integrity of the root ball must remain intact. In addition, when loading we utilize additional measures to protect the trunk and branches while in transit. Our goal is to provide each of our customers with not just a tree, but a total package that exceeds their expectations, that they are proud to be associated with. I am proud of each tree that our team dug and shipped this spring and more importantly the feedback from our customers has been fantastic.
We will have planting news and updates coming up soon.