Winter at The Outpost means it’s time to get planting natives again. But planting natives means needing to have the trees on hand to plant in the first place. So autumn at The Outpost means thinking about finding trees.

This year, the plan is to extend the windbreak planting between what is now our cabin and what will (hopefully) eventually be our house. It’s an extension of some planting and development done by the original residents of the property. We started adding to their planting last year, but there’s probably just as much needing planting again this year to finish it.

Planting diagram 2021

Most of the trees we planted last year were raised from seed, but I did spend about $150 on some additional plants. I haven’t been as good about growing my stock this year, however, and I’ve been thinking that might prove to be an expensive mistake.

I’ve got a couple of dozen ake ake (Dodonaea viscosa), kōhūhū (Pittosporum tenufolium), kōwhai (Sophora microphylla), and karamu (Coprosma robusta) I’ve grown from seed. They’re hanging out in our plant area just waiting to be planted, but they’re not going to get me very far.

So I started looking around a bit more closely. We’re surrounded by forest after all – trees aren’t a limited resource here. I found the motherload on the driveway.

It’s quite amazing to watch a forest regenerating. Trees just appear out of nowhere. But sometimes, they don’t choose the most convenient of spots.

Baby totara growing on the driveway

How many tōtara can you spot? Click the photo to see how many I see.

Like the dozens of tiny tōtara (Podocarpus totara) growing where the water drains off the driveway. Or the kānuka (Kunzea ericoides) growing in the drain. There’s also a māpou (Myrsine australis) growing directly on the fence, and a few pūriri (Vitex lucens) dotted around as well.

Mapou growing on the fence
Puriri on the driveway

Left/first: Māpou growing on a fence. Above/second: Pūriri growing on the driveway.

We have all these wonderful trees that have just volunteered to grow. But if they keep growing where they are, it’ll lead to issues like potholes, blocked drains, and broken fences.

So this week, I’ve been lifting the smaller ones and potting them up. On Tuesday I bought back 47 baby tōtara, only a few cm tall. I won’t use them this year, but they’ll be perfect for planting in another year or two. Many of the trees I bought back off the driveway are shown in the header image of this blog.

Then a little later in the week, I did a little census of the larger trees that need relocating. We’ll move them when we are doing this year’s planting. I don’t want to bother them twice (once now into pots, and in a couple of months when we plant them), but I do need to work out how many I still need to buy.

I found another couple of dozen trees in suitable sizes for our planting this year. Mostly tōtara. It really does grow like a weed. I also found mānuka (Leptospermum scoparium), and karamu seeds ready for harvesting. I can grow them on for future plantings as well.

karamu berries

This year isn’t the most ambitious of planting goals, but the trees I’ve found growing on the driveway will be a huge help in keeping costs down. They’ll also help with my ambitious future projects – like the wetland restoration project. That’s going to require thousands of trees, and they have to come from somewhere. Might as well start with the ones that have volunteered in the wrong place.