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Many of you have noticed that my “To & From” entries have become few and far between.  When I first started penning those missives, the farm was a weekend project.  Though I would think about the farm constantly, the 2 hour train trip to and from provided the void of distraction necessary to plan and to contemplate all of the new experiences and challenges that come with buying a new house, starting a new farm, and launching a new business.

But in April of this year, those train trips came to an abrupt halt when I moved up to the farm and became a full time inhabitant of Sharon Springs, NY.   The chores multiplied exponentially.  Spring and Summer being the busy season on the farm, I was suddenly glad that Twitter permitted only 120 characters.  120 characters a day was about all I had the energy to muster (and sometimes not even that)

But the long to-do lists that so consumed those long summer days were more than just excuses for my lack of reflection.   I was putting down roots.

Oddly, it took the act of pulling up roots to make me realize this.

Years ago some trees on the Beekman property had been planted too close together. Unable to sacrifice a decade of growth, I decided we would try to transplant them to another area of the farm.

It’s amazing how congruent the tips for transplanting a tree are to putting down roots of any sort.

1.  Contemplate
Before you decide to move a tree, make sure its new location will be a supportive one, with the right lighting and soil and every thing that it needs to flourish.

It took us nearly five years of looking at abandoned farms and vacant lots before we stumbled upon the Beekman. The decision to sign onto a huge mortgage was not made overnight.

2. Take Time
There is always a best time to make a move.  For a tree, early fall or in the very early spring is optimal.  The tree is not in a growing phase.  We waited until an unusually heavy day of rain which loosened the soil around the roots and enabled us to lift the tree out of the ground with the entire root ball intact.

If you are currently in a growth phase where you are, you have to question your reasons for moving.

3. Tie Up Loose Ends

Before you start to transplant a tree, cut off up to 1/3 the linear growth of the tree. This helps ensure the root system will be able to support the growth left on top.

Sometimes one of the most productive parts of moving is finally being able to unload excess baggage and leave it all behind.

4. Dig In

Take your freshly sharpened spade and dig around the tree in a circle to define the root ball. Trees with trunks 1-1/4” in diameter should have an 18” wide root ball; those with a 1” diameter trunk should have a 12” wide root ball.   A close approximation of the size of the root ball is the width of the tree’s canopy.

The resulting trench should be as deep as the root ball is wide. If you also dig a slight ramp on one side of your trench, you’ll be able to slide the tree out easier.

For the tree’s new home dig a hole as deep as the root ball and 18-24” wider.

Before moving, it’s wise to spend a little time preparing for the place  you are going to settle.  It may not be hospitable at first, but that’s nothing a little sweat equity can’t change.

5. Home Sweet Home
Fill the new hole half full with soil, then water the tree well. Now fill it the rest of the way with soil, water again, and mulch well.

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Now firmly rooted in our new surroundings, we are all ready to spring forward.  We look forward to having you grow with us.

by Dr. Brent

Reader Comments

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Ronnie

What a great post. My husband Charles and I are huge fans of yours and find what you and Josh are doing very inspiring. We are both from really small towns in MN and after trying life in the big city of Minneapolis, are both craving the country again. There are so many questions we must now answer. Where? When? How? I just found it a little ironic your blog gave a "guide" to all the questions we have been asking ourselves. I hope we find somewhere as welcoming and peaceful as Sharon Springs. Keep doing what you are doing, you inspire more people than you know. Can't wait for season 2!

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Garth Crider

You know how it's said that everyone has a twin somewhere in the world? Well……. My partner and I bought an old farmhouse in Ferrisburgh, Vermont 7 years ago. I left my job in real estate to manage our farm and my partner commutes to California for his job as a director with a large international company. We both want him to be able to quit his stressful job and stay home and work the farm with me but we're struggling to cut the corporate cord. Can't wait for your new season to air so we know what happens to us next! Hi to Josh.

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Cindy

Brent

Love the show, love Sharon Springs. Can't wait for the festival. I am participating in the festival as a vendor and can't wait to be a part of the activites .

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Dan Williams

I love watching you and Josh. You both remind me a bit of me and my partner; personality wise that is. Thanks so much for sharing your lives so publicly. I'm not so sure I would be able to do that.

Thanks for everything that you do to help people realize that America needs small farms and to live a healthier life without all the huge farms that are out just to make a buck.

You are guys are fantastic.

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Connie Wedding

I don't know how you manage to do all that you do and keep everything going. I would be nothing but a babbling, broken down shell-of-my-former-self, pulling myself along the ground after only one day of your chore list and schedule. I really can't imagine how you do it. It just seems like it would be too much for a normal human being! Do you ever have time to really sit back and enjoy everything around you? Maybe you should delegate! At least take a well-deserved break for awhile, and Josh, too! I have learned that things don't ALL have to be perfect. Pick the most important ones to you and do them yourself so that they ARE perfect, then lighten up on the other stuff. It'll do you good, and in time, it won't be so hard to loosen your grip on everything, LOL! Been on a vacation lately? The Smoky Mountains are gorgeous in October and they are calling you and Josh! I heard them with my own ears! Or closer to you, the Adirondacks! Take a rest! The world won't end!

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Robert

I don't know if this is true, but I was told by a landscape architect that the roots of a tree actually mirror the branches to a large extent. So, the canopy dripedge outlines the root system. Major outward reaching branches have their corresponding major inward securing roots. Seems like another tree/root metaphor somehow.

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Robin Jurczak

Every post you made had as much to do with those exactoring standards (or the precision of your words) as they have to do with those who are looking to create the dream as you and Josh have created it! WE LOVE YOUR BOTH!!!

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David Hodgson

Perhaps trite, but…Wow! My partner and I are yearning for the country, and this is just what I needed to read. Though, we're a tad late on joining the 'Beekman' Boys ventures, we've been captured. You've created the 'Disney of Upstate NY'. Wishing you continued success, love and life.

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Anne

Your roots essay is superb in so many ways. I moved up to an old house in Schoharie County, from the West Village, in 1986. I am still contemplating where to plant the odd tree.

Merry Christmas & a Prosperous New Year to Beekman 1802! I wish you both bliss in the coming year!

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weekendfarmer

It is an interesting topic…putting one's roots down. I enjoyed reading.

Did you consider a B&B idea? I think it will work great…!!! There is a B&B in Maine that I love that serve their own eggs to guests and maple syrup from the yard. Amazing!

Have a good Sat evening…my most favorite evening of the week : ) !

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Linda

Brent, for someone so young, you have a wealth of wisdom………thank you for sharing it with us. I wish you many blessings for a wonderful holiday season.

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Pru

Brent,

I loved this piece. It is all so true. I miss your column but I am so pleased that you are now in Sharon Springs more permanently and keep make it your home.

Andrew wrote about the year of soap boxes – are you shipping any to the London Anthropologie?

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Dr. Brent

Hi, Pru

I'll try to be more regular with my postings. I do have confirmation from the buyer that the soaps are in the London Anthropologie and should be there unless they are sold out already

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Elaine

I have really missed your to&from postings. I am happy that you are firmly planting your roots in Sharon Springs and hopefully as things settle, if they settle as you have been busy doing so many things this year, I hope you continue writing. You have a beautiful voice and a true gift – use it well.

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kelly

Hi brent

thanks so much for this.

really well thought out.. boy where were you before i bought my 300 yrs old wreck of a house and started milk & honey?

thanks for taking the leap !!!

kelly

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Will

When I was a tot, my grandmother always told me "Bloom where you are planted".

Why didn't my parents plant me on a private beach in Malibu Colony, dang it?!

I suppose there is always time to replant – as you have proven with such success! You and Josh have a fantastic holiday season.

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John

Just beautiful. Perfect advice whether one is contemplating a change or changes to a career, a relationship, a home or an entire life. Thank you! JEM

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