This is an Eastern Woodland species, not a New Mexico mountain species. Where it grows, it is a good wildlife habitat tree for deer, elk, rabbits, squirrels. It is one of the maples that provide maple syrup.
This is one of the National Arbor Day Foundation trees sent to me by a friend. So today I cleaned up a spot near my trailerstead and planted it. I mulched 4 feet across with pine needles.
I have been avoiding this bed for 3 years! It is about 8 feet in diameter and had a dead tree stump in the middle. I noticed it is rotting well so the old root system will be a nice pathway for the new tree.
Even worse, someone covered it in heavy black plastic with red volcano rock over the top. Neglected for years, it accrued about 4 inches of soil on top. It is hard because the plastic is coming up in messy chunks, big and little. I can’t scoop off the rock because it is embedded in soil and turning to red clay.
Today I started to dig it up and turn it to pull out the embedded plastic. I planted the red oak in the center and then dug in a circular pattern around it. Just got a 4 foot diameter done this afternoon, but at least the rain can soak in. I will see if I can continue this week and get all that lava rock worked into the soil and the plastic pulled out.
Volcanic rock is not my favorite mulch, it is unnatural looking and I like mulch that decomposes and enriches the soil. However, since this has been buried probably 20 years it is decomposing and increasing the nutrients in the soil. Plastic not so much. I’ll take decomposed volcanic rock as a nutrient boost and keep mulching with organic plant material as I progress.
In any event, if it grows without supplemental water, I will call it a net gain. Some roof water does drain into this bed, so that gives it an advantage. Speaking of water, maples are great for tapping for drinking water if no water is available. It is the most common tree species in the USA at this time.
I have seen a few maples here in the mountains but only a few. Somebody who sure misses the maple trees “back home.” I will give the poor thing a chance but cannot dump thousands of gallons of tap water on it. Not that my super alkaline tap water would make it happy.