Most trees need shade when first planted out. This is to keep the leaves from burning, to keep the ground cooler around the root system, and to protect pampered nursery plants from damaging winds. This is one of the best methods we have found: using banana props (1½" x 2"), point the ends either with a small hatchet as you go, or with a power saw in larger batches. Make them long enough to go 30cm into the ground and to give the plant room to double its growth.

Orient your stakes so that the northern and western sides can be shaded. You may wish to shade other sides too, for more delicate plants like durian, or on the windward side as a windbreak.

To save a lot of heavy hammering, start the hole first by throwing a crowbar in at each of the four points until the desired depth is reached. (Be generous with the width between stakes). Then stand on a 44-gallon drum and hit the stakes in firmly with 5 or 6 good blows of a 6-pound hammer. Tamp soil firmly around stake. This method saves energy and avoids splitting of stakes when hammering into hard soil or rocks.

Wire loops of cane on tops of stakes for shadecloth rigidity. Cut your length of shadecloth for top and sides (be generous - shading the ground and lower stem helps keep the plant cool.) Use light gauge wire to attach cloth to the stakes.

Many trees need staking against the wind, especially if they have become elongated in the nursery. This can be done with a heavy gauge wire which will remain rigid. Slide a loop of soft plastic or rubber hose over one end, and circle the young tree trunk with this, allowing plenty of room for growth. Two of these tied to opposing stakes are best. They should be moved up the trunk, and the loop widened as the tree grows. Staking is necessary to prevent stress to the root system of a young tree by wind.

Shades should only be removed when the following conditions are satisfied:
The leaf cover is sufficient to protect the stem and branches of the tree and to shade the ground;
The tree has attained a height of at least 1.2m.;
The tree has been planted 1 to 2 years at the onset of the wet season.

Extract from Cardwell/Johnstone RFCA Newsletter Oct. 1987

DATE: November 1987

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