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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

How to Plant Fruit Trees

Dig the hole wide and as deep as the roots
Critical Success Factors
·         Keep tree roots moist
·         Make sure the bud union is ABOVE ground after planting
·         Stake the plant to prevent root movement in the soil after planting
·         Protect from rabbits and damaging sunlight

Planting New Trees. If you are buying new fruit trees to plant, dig the hole much wider than deep. Dig it deep enough to accommodate the new tree’s roots. As a general rule, we try to dig our planting holes at the Orchard about 3 feet wide for bare root trees.

            Take the soil out of the hole and mix it 50/50 with a good organic compost or high quality soil amendment. We make our own compost at The Orchard.  It is important to get the plant’s roots covered and watered as soon as possible after taking it out of the container so have the hole predug before you bring the tree home.

Add soil amendments like compost to the soil
taken from the hole and remove large rocks
Begin collapsing the sides of the planting hole around the rootball making a slurry surrounding the rootball. It is important that dry soil not come in direct contact with plant roots.

Add the amended soil from the hole back into the planting hole as you continue to collapse the sides of the hole as well.

Add more water making a very wet mud  or slurry to surround the rootball and get rid of air pockets. Round out the hole around the rootball so that the collapsed sides act as a basin for holding water around the newly planted tree.
Add water to the hole as you add the amended soil back
around the fruit tree.
Make a slurry to remove air pockets.

Remove the tree from the container (if there is one) and plant in the slurry. If there is no container (bare root), then plant directly into the soil keeping the bud union above ground. Fill the basin with water and allow the water to settle the soil in the basin.

Tie the tree tightly to a stake driven into
solid ground at the bottom of the hole
Stake the tree to immobilize the roots, not the top of the tree. Drive the stake through the rootball, or next to it if it is a large stake, and into the solid soil beneath the rootball at the bottom of the hole. Tie the tree to the stake as low on the tree as you can which will keep the rootball from moving. We use green nursery tape to do this. It stretches as the tree grows. The stake is removed in the fall of the same year as it was planted. No longer. A tree should not need it beyond this. If it does, the tree was improperly planted or rootbound in the container.
One inch hexagonal chicken wire, 24 inches
wide, is cut into a three foot length to make
a protective cylinder around the young tree

The hole is filled with water three times after it has been planted to help remove air pockets. Once planted the tree is handwatered once a week in combination with the normal irrigations to make sure the soil in the planting hole and the undisturbed soil surrounding the planting hole are wet.
Whitewash the new tree and put rabbit protection (chicken wire) around the new planting, securing it to the stake. Whitewash is made from white or any light colored latex paint by adding an equal amount of water and mixing.

Wood mulch is added to the soil surface around the tree but outside of the rabbit protection to keep moisture in the soil, suppress weeds, add organics back to our desert soil, contribute to soil mircroorganism and worm activity, help keep soil cooler and many other reason. The rabbit protection helps keep the mulch away from the trunk of young trees which might contribute to "collar rot" a rotting of the thin bark of young trees due to some disease organisms present in most soils.

The chicken wire is removed in about four years when rabbits are no longer a threat to larger trees. The mulch is then allowed to come in contact with the trunk as the trunk has matured and more resistant to collar rot organisms.

1 comment:

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