Seed to Sprout – Forest and Land Scotland


We have recently begun the process of collecting seeds to grow our trees. We need 25 million trees every year and we need more seeds. But what happens once we find them? How can our descendants become a forest? And how long does it take?

It may seem strange, but unlike seeds for your garden, we do not sow seeds in the first place where we want the tree to grow. In the wild, sowing seeds directly into the ground is a waste, because most of the seeds will not survive to a small tree. This is due to a number of factors, such as eating animals, deteriorating weather, or other damage. In the long run, this will result in inconsistent tree planting and will not increase the use of our valuable seeds. Instead, we take our seeds and plant them in a controlled area called a tree shed.

In the past we had many small nurseries in Scotland, but these days we have a large nursery in Newton near Elgin in north-eastern Scotland. The region is surprisingly sunny with plenty of rain. This makes it an ideal place for growth, and it is not the only tree in the area.

More about Newton Kindergarten

The kindergarten area looks and works like a farm. When the time comes, we will spread the seeds on beds 100 feet[100 m]high. During this time the seeds grow in random places in rows. We then provide a better chance of weeding and nursery to protect the entire nursery.

Young green fig trees growing in large rows under the blue skies

Once our seedlings have grown to a certain height, it is seed-based. This allows us to give more space to each tree to keep it growing. Eventually, our seedlings will reach the heights we are preparing for in the jungle across the country. They vary in height but range from 15 to 40 cm depending on the species. This whole process can take up to three years.

Looking ahead

We have been working for several years with the Scottish government-sponsored civic group to find solutions to common forest issues. Innovations for this program include TreeTape and SilviBio.

TreeTape is a mechanized installation process. Previously, 50-mm-tall seedlings growing in a glass house were kept in a small paper pocket on a coir substrate. The TreeTape machine can install about one million of these transplants a day, with about 60,000 existing machines. We are still experimenting with this technology but there is great hope for making our children’s communication more efficient. You can find out more about this award system in our news release.

SilviBio is a specially formulated coating that is applied to the seeds and is suitable for soil treatment. The eco-friendly formula retains moisture around the seed. This has improved germination and produced a more consistent crop. Find out more in our news release.

Our nursery department then receives orders from a regional group for thousands of trees for a particular species. We can collect the seedlings in large boxes using a specialist machine. In our processing warehouse, they are divided into different sizes, cut or occasionally returned to the bed for further growth and loaded into larger bags. These bags can be taken directly to the forest for installation.

When the weather is nice, pick up as many seedlings as possible to replenish our home storage space. Prepare a bag to carry and then send. Our special humi store is frozen in high humidity to protect the trees from the soil.

When all the trees are ready, transportation is provided and the team packs all the bags for the next trip.

A woman standing at a table while examining young trees.

Before being sent to Scotland, the trees were graded and placed in bags.

Boxes of small trees arranged in a large warehouse.

In the humi store. Cool heat helps keep high-moisture trees in good condition as they emerge from the soil.

Many large white bags are lying on the floor.

These bags carry thousands of young trees ready to be transported to forests across the country.

Hundreds of large trees are erected near a large warehouse

Broadwood trees are ready to grow out of the ground.

It creates a complete white bag along the farm track.

Make straw when the sun rises. It is important for the nursery team to pick up trees in good weather, so that they can work on grading, curing and packing in bad weather.

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Our nursery now has the capacity to produce 7 million trees a year, so we need to get trees from other nurseries. However, investing in our facilities means that we aim to double the number of trees we grow in Newton over the next few years. More land, new resources and innovative technology will make us more efficient.

More about Newton Kindergarten

We have seen the process from seed to seedling and we have brought the trees to their final destination. The next step is the final installation. Find a future article on our blog where we can look at land preparation and find real trees in the ground.

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