Get the kids planting trees this half term with The Sun's Green Team's tips
ALL this week The Sun’s Green Team campaign has been showing how you can be kind to the planet – and your pocket.
And today our Gardening Editor Peter Seabrook, backed by charity The Woodland Trust, tells how your kids can do their bit to slow down climate change by helping to plant 50million trees.
We have teamed up with the global Count Us In initiative to urge Sun readers to shrink their carbon footprint. If every reader signed up to three of our seven pledges at thesun.co.uk/pledge, it would save 42million tonnes of carbon a year – the same emissions produced by all of our agriculture industry.
Here, Peter explains why October is the perfect time to get your children outdoors collecting conkers and acorns and creating their own green shoots.
Join The Sun’s ‘Green Team’ & save the planet
MAKING simple everyday changes can add up to a BIG difference to the planet.
And we want you and your family to join The Sun's Green Team – our eco revolution.
It can feel overwhelming to know how to play a part in reducing greenhouse gasses, but we will be showing you the practical steps we can take to curb climate change – with the help of the global ‘Count Us In’ initiative.
And our easy measures will even help you SAVE money so your household budget goes further.
We'll help you to reduce food waste, insulate your home, create tasty planet-friendly meals and take simple steps to trim your carbon footprint.
We want you to go online to sign-up to as many of our special Green Team pledges as you can manage and a special calculator will show you how much carbon you will personally save.
It won’t cost you a penny but the total you and your family will save will be added to the global ‘Count Us In’ total and the platform will support you every step of the way.
So tap here to pledge.
THE world desperately needs to slow down climate change.
If someone invented a machine that sucked up carbon dioxide, released oxygen into the atmosphere, stored tonnes of carbon and cleaned the air, there would be an international clamour to buy it, whatever the cost.
But we already have such “miracle machines” — TREES.
The problem is, we don’t have nearly enough in the UK. So we are calling on YOU to pick up an acorn, or the seed of any native tree, plant it and grow a new one.
It would not take much to green up Britain. There are more than 20,000 primary schools and if children from each one went out and collected a bag of acorns, germinated 50 to pot up and grow on, they would create one million oak trees.
It needn’t be oaks. Chestnut conkers, with their shiny skins, ash keys that twirl as they fall and slender birch cones that crumble into numerous seeds are easy to raise in pots of damp compost.
Environmental experts say we need to plant 50million trees in the UK each year to slow climate change. This year it is more important than ever. Covid has meant that fewer trees than before have gone into the ground.
Figures from the first three months of the year suggest the number of saplings planted was 30 per cent down. And that was before lockdown — so the figures will now be even worse.
The 7 pledges
- Eat more plants
- Cut food waste
- Turn down heating
- Insulate your home
- Switch to green energy
- Repair & re-use things
- Drive an electric car
But YOU can help by going into your local park, fields or woods, collecting trees’ seeds off the ground and planting them.
There is an abundance of acorns this autumn, and if you plant one which successfully grows into a sapling, by the time it is an established oak tree it will have absorbed 48lb of harmful CO2. And by 40 years old it will have absorbed ONE TONNE. These trees are also home to as many as 423 types of insect, and they soak up water to help prevent flooding.
According to Government advisers from the Commit- tee on Clim- ate Change, the UK needs to plant 116 square miles of trees every year until 2050 if we are to reach the target of cutting all greenhouse gas emissions — so-called net zero.
That is roughly equal to three-quarters of the Isle of Wight that needs planting with trees for each of the next 30 years.
If every one of us sowed just one or two acorns this autumn and planted the resulting seedlings next year, we could make a real difference.
Graham Paskett did just that seven years ago on a walk in Sussex with his granddaughter Annabel, who gave him two acorns to sow in a pot. Annabel is now nine, and the tiny acorn has grown into a sturdy 9ft sapling ready to be planted in Graham’s garden in Derbyshire.
Every September, new starters at Galleywood Infant School in Chelmsford, Essex have been collecting acorns in their playground and planting them.
Initially the children outgrow the knee-high plants, but once the oak roots push down into the soil they will soon outgrow the youngsters.
Annual photos record how the saplings develop over the years, and the children are encouraged to care for trees and other living things in their neighbourhood.
Now you can follow their example — our step-by-step guide shows you how to get results from planting a tree seed.
How to grow an oak
1. COLLECT YOUR ACORNS
Raising oak saplings could hardly be easier.
Gather a few sound acorns from a healthy mother tree.
Avoid the first ones that drop, as they have often ripened early because of an insect attack. A sign of this damage is a tiny hole in the acorn, right.
It should not be difficult to find good examples, because this autumn looks like being a vintage one for crops of acorns.
2. PLACE IN A POLY BAG
Do not dry out your acorns. Put them damp into a polythene bag and keep outside in a cool, shaded site. Check regularly for the first sign of a root emerging.
3. PUT IN A POT
When a root emerges, take the acorns out of the polythene bag.
Place each one, singly, into a pot filled with potting compost, with the root facing downwards. You could use soil, but potting compost will be easier to keep nicely moist and without caking. You will have seedlings to plant by this time next year.
4. PLANT OUT NEXT AUTUMN
It’s the best time to transplant bare roots because the soil is still warm, encouraging new roots to spread out and get established before hot, dry weather in summer.
Overnight dews will keep them damp, so no need to water. Plant away from houses, as an oak can grow for centuries – like the 1,000-year-old great oak in Windsor, where Prince William recorded his video on protecting the planet.
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