The forests that were once the norm in India have gradually given way to scores of concrete structures, due to constant development. However, thanks to the initiatives of various citizens who are passionate about saving the environment, reforestation has found its place on the agenda.
For RS Arjunan, tree plantation isn’t just about nurturing a sapling; it is about using resources effectively. He is practising a tradition of planting which he claims was used in ancient times as well. What makes his method special? He says it will lead to a brand new tree in just 90 days!
Arjunan uses the cuttings from different species of trees and plants them in the soil. Using proper measures and techniques, he cultivates the branch, until it starts sprouting roots and leaves, becoming a fully fledged tree.
“After my son passed away, my neighbour suggested that I take up tree planting using this method. It seemed like a good idea, so I decided to take it up,” he says in a conversation with The Better India.
Arjunan believes that this method can help reforest all of Tamil Nadu.
Here’s how you can experiment with this technique to create your own tree in 90 days, by following these three easy steps!
1. Find a healthy tree
Arjunan doesn’t specify the kind of trees he uses, saying that almost any tree can be used for this technique. However, for the best results, use trees that are native to the land, and are easy to grow in the climatic conditions of the area.
The branches that are just over one-year-old work best, as they are easy to cut as well.
2. Chop off the branch
Once a healthy branch has been identified, you must chop it off. Depending on its thickness you can use either pruning shears or another cutting device. The branch must be sturdy, to keep other animals from grazing on it.
3. Plant the branch, and water!
Initially, Arjunan recommends planting the branch in tightly packed soil. He usually uses a burlap sack for the same. The sack should be kept in a place that doesn’t have too much sun or too much shade. For the first 70 days, it is advised not to use any fertiliser.
Just one litre of water every day is enough. By the 28th day, he says the branch will start sprouting leaves, and the roots will begin to form. This is when you know you are on the right track.
After 70 days, the leaves and roots will be strong enough to transfer the tree to a location of your choice. With continuous care and daily watering, by the 90th day, you will have a fully grown tree, according to Arjunan.
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This method, of taking a portion of a tree and planting it to form a new tree, can also be applied in the realm of other plants as well.
Three types of cuttings are typically used:
a) Softwood cuttings: These are stems which have newer leaves. In these cases, the roots tend to develop rapidly.
b) Semi-hardwood cuttings: These are stems that have become elongated, and the leaves are more mature.
c) Hardwood cuttings: These are stems from plants that have been growing for a long time, and are usually planted when they are dormant.
Since these cuttings have no root system of their own, it becomes essential to monitor and pay close attention to their growth, as it is easy for these parts to become dehydrated and die. The soil should be kept moist for optimum growth.
To aid the process, other sources cite using a sterile, soilless mixture during the initial stages of growth. You can learn how to make your own mix here.
Arjunan believes that this method can be used anywhere, and now spends his time planting trees in different villages across Tamil Nadu.
“This method is efficient, because it uses fewer resources, and results in the growth of trees in a lesser amount of time. Since branches are being used, there is no question of pests or overgrazing,” says Arjunan.
For more information on this method, the trees that can be used, and the work RS Arjunan does, you may contact him at this number: +91 97903 95796
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)