How to plant an Inga seedling

Use a knife to cut open the bag open and so avoid damaging the roots. Click on the image to view a clip of planting

Although not rocket-science planting Inga seedlings in abandoned sites requires some basic preparation and thought. Transplanting a seedling can stress it significantly as both the roots and leaves will experience a significant change in water relations. In addition the roots are very fragile and can suffer significant mechanical damage, whilst the leaves can be badly damaged by the sudden exposure to bright and direct light. For both of these reasons it is advisable to only plant seedlings in the wet season, ideally at the beginning so that there remain a couple of months of cloudy wet conditions that will give the seedlings time to grow their roots and adapt their leaves.

We use holes 30-40 cm deep and 15-20 cm diameter so that there is space in the bottom of the hole for top-soil to be pushed in

Once ready to plant, the ground cleared and the spacing decided on then it is time to make the holes. We use a spacing of 4 m between rows and for annual crops a seedling spacing of 50 cm within each row, for fruit trees 4 m and for timber trees, 3 m. One thing to remember is that the soil is very poor, hence the use of Inga. Therefore make the hole about 10-15 cm deeper than the seedling bag so that any material rich in organic matter such as top-soil or leaf-litter can be scraped into the hole. The image above shows the thin dark layer of top-soil with the brighter orange-brown layer of very poor soil below.

Once dug the hole needs to be partially filled with top-soil and organic matter

We start by pushing some top soil to a depth of ca 10 cm into the hole, then cut open the seed bag with a knife so as to avoid any unnecessary damage to the roots and place the seedling and soil from the bag in the hole. If the seedlings have developed a good roots system then the soil and roots should stay together as in the image at the top. If not then the soil might fall away as soon as you remove the bag.

Place the seedling in the hole and infill with top soil. Pat down the soil around the base of the seedling lightly so that a depression is formed

Place the seedling in the hole, pack in some top-soil around it and then pat down some soil on top, not too hard as you will damage the the roots, just enough to create a slight depression around the base of the seedling where water can accumulate. The finished product should look something like the image below. Now all that is needed will be weeding every couple of months and keep an eye out for leaf-cutter ants!

Once planted the seedlings will need weeds cleared from around them every two months for a year. You can watch the whole process by clicking on the image.

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