Future Trees Project

Take part in our Future Trees Project this October!

In partnership with Epsom and Ewell Tree Advisory Board, we've set up this project to produce a supply of locally sourced trees for future tree planting projects in the borough.

How the project works

In partnership with Epsom and Ewell Tree Advisory Board, we're asking residents to gather seeds, fruits and nuts this October and then grow them in to trees.

Ideally, residents will nuture their young trees for a few years and then pass them on to the Epsom and Ewell Tree Advisory Board (EETAB) who will then find a home for them in the borough. You can grow any species of tree although oak, sweet chestnut and birch have been requested by EETAB!

If you already have tree saplings in pots and don't have anywhere to put them, then you could pass them on to EETAB to look after at their tree nursery. The contact details for EETAB can be found on their facebook page.

Tips on collecting seeds, fruits and nuts

It is important that we harvest local tree seeds responsibly and sustainably.

The Tree Council have put together this useful checklist for when you go out collecting:

  • If you’re planning to collect fruit and seeds to eat (like blackberries), remember that fruit is the property of the landowner, so be careful where you’re gathering from. Don’t collect from trees beside busy roads or old industrial sites and make sure children are supervised!

  • Always check that you know exactly what you’re gathering. Some of the most attractive berries are poisonous and easily confused with ones that are safe to eat.

  • Don’t gather more than you need. Wildlife like squirrels and birds rely on fruits, nuts and seeds for food so make sure you leave enough for them to thrive.

  • Take care not to damage trees or the surrounding area as you gather your seeds.

  • Keep safety in mind. Climbing a little way up a tree to gather some acorns might seem like a good idea but it can be dangerous. Gather your seeds from the ground or from branches that are easy to reach.

  • Use seed gathering and seed identification guides to help you – and have fun!

Preparing and planting seeds

Very few tree seeds will germinate without being exposed to the cold of at least one winter. This is a natural defence mechanism to make sure the seeds don’t start growing during the winter, when young seedlings might die in the cold. Tree growers have found a way to mimic this natural process, and it can be carried out very simply at home, the process is called "stratification".

First you need to make your stratification medium - this is simply a mixture of peat-free compost and a coarser material such as sand, grit or wood chip (to ensure good drainage). Mix this with your seeds and put into an appropriate container - a large plant pot would be ideal. Cover the pot with some mesh to prevent squirrels and mice getting to your seeds and ensure the mixture remains moist. Then leave over the winter in a shady, cool spot outside, checking whether you need to add more water. In the spring, gently tip out your mixture and see if any of the seeds have germinated (showing small shoots or roots). If they have germinated they can be planted in compost in pots, if they haven't yet germinated, return them to the stratification medium and check again weekly. If some of the seeds haven't germinated by the end of spring, they may need a second winter before they will germinate so just leave in your stratification medium and check again the following spring.

Once in pots your seedlings will need watering during drier, hotter weather. You can nuture them and watch them grow until they are a few years old. At this point you can pass your saplings on to EETAB who will find a permanent home for them in the borough.

Resources and Information

The Tree Council website is an excellent source of information on seed gathering.

From this website you can download their excellent guides on the following topics:

You can also purchase "The Good Seed Guide" book for £4 which covers everything you need to know about growing trees from seed.

Epsom and Ewell Tree Advisory Board - The Epsom & Ewell Tree Advisory Board (EETAB) is a well-established volunteer group helping to safeguard the borough's trees. Their projects include: planting in parks and schools, protecting existing trees in the borough and promoting tree planting projects, particularly the replacement of street trees.