When I found out that my longleaf pine came from Bodenhamer Farms in Rowland, NC, I called to see if I could see where my trees were born.
There I met some of the friendliest people ever. There was not much to see, since this is the time when most of the last year’s seedlings are shipped and the new ones are just seeds, but I did get to see some of the plugs.
Louie Bodenhamer showed me the mycorrhizal fungi on the plugs. Mycorrhizal fungi live in the soil in a symbiotic relationship with roots. The fungi can reach farther and provide nutrients for the growing plant. In return, the plant provides sugars from its photosynthesis.
It is only recently (recent decades) that we have appreciated how this works. Herbicides and even plowing the soil can break up and kill mycorrhizal fungi. This loss is responsible for significant loss in practical fertility and plant vigor, but it was difficult to detect in soil chemistry, since chemically everything is there, just not working.
Soil is a living medium, at least when it is right. It is not mere chemistry and cannot be treated as this. The old saying that we feed the soil and it feeds us makes a lot of sense. And a big part of living soil is mycorrhizal fungi.
You can add this to your soil and this is a promising new field of fertilizer. It might also be good to let it grow.
I will buy some seedlings from Louie Bodenhamer this fall. He thinks that the best time to plant is October or November. This is what I hear from my friends at TNC too (they told me to get them in before Christmas) and what I have read. The natural seed fall for longleaf is autumn. They get a head start over the winter, taking advantage of winter rains and less evaporation is the colder weather.
I can fit a few thousand seedlings in my SUV. Each box (see picture) has just over 300 seedlings. I will ask the kids to help plant, so Mariza, Alex & Espen, please take note. Brunswick County is real great place in fall. It will be fun, the promise of the future and a blessing for today.