Just a quick background: my family and I are on 12.5 acres in south central PA. We have already established our version of a few rows of silvopasture. My wife and I tried our hand at swales on an acre of our land. It is planted with hazels, seaberry, persimmon, honey locust, serviceberry, chokeberry, and wild plum. I don't think we needed to use the swales and don't feel it was necessary in our climate, but I am getting off topic.
We would like to get started developing more of our property and so I have several questions for the group.
1) What are some proven, natural methods for preparing our rows for planting trees? (ie sowing some cover year prior, rotary tiller, etc) What has worked for you? I have seen videos of nice bed formers, but seems like these machines are only available over seas.
2) We didn't use tree tubes in our first planting and I am curious if there is any use to this technology. Many of our trees in our first planting have been continuously topped off by the wildlife. What is your take on this subject? We are currently installing a woven wire perimeter, which may cut down on some of the browse.
3) Irrigation: We do not irrigate our trees yet. I did have some loses this year (being the second year of my first planting), but we just replaced with new seedlings. I prefer to choose drought tolerant and native species that aren't very needy, but haven't quite figured out what I want to plant in the new sections. Do you irrigate?
To your number 1. I have used billboard tarps to solarize strips of ground. Then pull them back and plant into mostly bare dirt.
Some folks us round-up or other broad spectrum herbicide, but I'm leery of poisons like that.
Whatever I can get. Typical sizes are 5 x 11, 8 x 20, and most common 11 x 40. They occasionally come even bigger, but those are few and far between. I cut the 11 x 40 in half lengthwise so each tarp covers an 80 ft strip.
Billboard tarps are pretty robust so I typically get a few years of use out of them.