Mak014-IMG_1710
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Planting the mpingo seedlings at the Makuyuni Mpingo Site. The polythene tubing is removed from the root clump and the seedlings are placed in holes along with a plastic water bottle filled with water. A small pinhole is punched in the bottle to allow water to seep out during the dry season and give the mpingo seedlings an early boost in their growth cycle. Mpingo are hardy and can survive drought, but these young and tender plants will have a better chance of long-term survival if they can put on a lot of early top and root growth. Some moisture from the water bottle will help them in their first year. Sebastian devised this planting method as an aid to plant survival during the dry season. Northern Tanzania has rainy and dry seasons, with "short rains" being the lighter rainy season during November and December, sometimes starting in October, and "long rains" during April and May. This leaves a long dry spell of up to 4-5 months between May and October, and this is the reason the water bottles are being used. The water bottle and tree roots are completely covered with soil. Covering with soil like this protects the water bottle from UV radiation, and the plastic bottles last for several years and can be reused. These bottles were collected from hotels in Moshi and recycled for this use, so instead of ending up in a landfill, they are being buried with intent, will serve a useful purpose, and can be dug up and reused as the trees outgrow the need for the extra water provided by the bottle. 10 March 2008.

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