November 24, 2020 4:26 pm

Free trees

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(young trees in the community garden at Treverbyn Community Hall)


We’ve all been asked to plant more trees. Everyone’s doing it, from royalty to big business. It is because trees are so vital in our fight against pollution & climate change and they can provide biodiverse habitats.


Did you know that the average british oak can support 324 lichens and 284 insects*? They are an enormously important source of food for other animals.


If you have no outdoor space, or a small garden and/or low funds, you may feel frustrated that you cannot plant a tree. So what can be done if we don’t have the money to buy one? or room in a garden?


One way is to carefully collect some tree seeds yourself and plant them! It’s a cheap and easy way to grow one and anyone can do it – you can even have a tree seed growing in a pot on your doorstep. In Cornwall our native trees are Alder, Blackthorn, English & Sessile Oak, Hazel, Holly and Rowan, so I recommend you try those.


Take acorns for instance – there are literally thousands of them lying around the lane this year and the acorns are absolutely massive – one hit me on the head the other day and it was like being hit on the head with a cricket ball!


If you want to plant an acorn or any other tree seed; remember:


  • Only collect from local woodlands where there are native species. Not parks or estates


  • Do not take too many tree seeds; leave some to grow naturally and some for the animals!


  • For acorns, dunk them in a bucket of water – the ones that float may not be viable.


  • Plant 2-4 acorns in a pot filled almost to the top with peat-free compost. Any container will do: a yoghurt pot or a cardboard loo roll tube. Make sure there are drainage holes in the bottom, and just cover the acorn with compost (about 2cm deep). Keep them outside and protect from rodents and birds by covering them over with fine wire mesh to keep them out.


  • Don’t let your tree pots dry out! Put them in a shady sheltered spot, outdoors where they can be watered by the rain (or you if we have an unexpected heat wave next year)


  • By May seedlings should appear! Saplings then need to be 8 inches before you plant them out, but it’s worth the wait and in a couple of years you can plant them in your garden – alternatively you can enjoy them in their pots then pass them on to the Forest for Cornwall.


  For more information on seed collecting and planting go to the Cornwall Wildlife Trust website – all or RHS


*Forestry Commission

Marc pell owrvjfqiway unsplash

(Image thanks to Marc Pell from Unsplash)

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