The Village has been fortunate enough to obtain tree seedlings from the DEC’s tree nursery in upstate Saratoga. We have about 500 seedlings of various deciduous varieties.  There will be a limit of 3 seedlings per resident, on a first come, first served basis. The event will take place in the Village Hall parking lot.  As residents drive up, seedlings will be placed in their cars so we can all maintain safe social distancing.

How to plant and care for seedlings

First thing you do when you receive any bare root plant—a plant that’s not in any kind of soil—is let the roots sit in water for an hour or two. Not the entire plant—just the exposed roots. This will help rehydrate them and perhaps send a message to the plant that it’s not dead yet. Then you want to fill medium-sized plastic pots that have good drainage holes in the bottom about half-way up with a light, loose, bagged “soil-free mix” like a seed-starting mix or potting soil. Not terra cotta pots or old yogurt cups and no garden soil. Water the mix well.

(You should never use garden soil in a container because it’s heavy and full of weed seeds. Terra cotta is pretty, but it doesn’t hold moisture well.)

Now, in a separate container, mix up a batch of half compost, half soil-free mix. Place the moistened roots of one tree or shrub on top of the moistened mix in one of the prepared pots and then fill in around it with the new mix. Only one plant per pot. Pull the plant up gently as you work so that when you’re done, only the roots are below the soil line. Then sit the pots in a couple inches of water until they’re saturated. Then take them outside and put them in a spot where they’ll get about a half day of sun and place chicken wire or other protection around the whole set up; these tiny plants need to be outdoors but are prime food for deer, rabbits and such.

Make the covering easy to remove and ‘rock’ the pots every day to see how they feel. When they feel light, slowly add water. But don’t water them if they feel heavy. The baby plants shouldn’t go without water for long stretches of time, but they can’t sit in constantly wet soil all the time, either.

Then comes winter. These kinds of plants can’t come inside for the winter. They need to be exposed to a certain number of hours of cold temps and need to go through the normal progression of the seasons. But they can’t be left outside in exposed pots or the roots will freeze. So when summer turns to fall, dig holes and bury the pots up to their lips in an area where the soil drains well. Water them a little bit if winter is really dry, but not too much. Dormant plants don’t need a lot of water. (Protection from strong winter winds would be much more important.)

Then in the Spring, lift the pots out of the ground and decide what you want to do. If the plants have achieved a decent size, consider planting them where they’re going to stay permanently.