Sunday, 12 July 2009

Food Gardening For Beginners - Part 11

Planting Bare Rooted Fruit Trees

Site preparation:

Decide how far apart your trees will be planted. This will depend on how much room you have.
Trees can be planted as close as 1.5 metres or even multiple planted say 3 to a hole at only 30cm apart.
Pruning requirements will be different if planted closley.
Mine range from 2-3 metres apart.
The soil at the chosen site should be suitable for the type of trees chosen. Check for soil texture, drainage and a pH test would show up any acid and alkaline extremes.

This is the plan I made for the area with in the new chook run.
The large green dots are established fruit trees.
The large red dots are the sites for the new trees.
Please click on the photo see see it!

Trees chosen:
See description here.
Pink Lady Apple Malus domestica
Peach Elberta Prunus persica
Nectarine Goldmine Prunus persica

The area chosen for the planting was cleared of debris and weeds.

Planting sites were measured and marked for the bare rooted fruit trees,600mm diameter which was twice the width of the root ball.
Holes excavated to required depth, 300mm for bare rooted plants (as deep as the roots were in the ground originally)
If you notice the soil on the sides of the hole are shiny or 'glazed', which can happen in heavy soils, you will need to gouge or loosen the edges. This will allow the roots a rough surface to grow through to the surrounding soil. Failure to do this will result in the roots circling around as if they were in a container.

Plant preparation:

Bare rooted trees had roots soaked in a bucket of diluted Seaweed extract for 4-6 hours prior to planting to help lessen planting stress.
The root system of each plant was checked prior to soaking. Damaged and badly bent roots were trimmed off.


Plants were placed into the planting holes and required depth checked, 300mm for bare rooted trees (to approx. 100mm below graft union).
The bottom of the planting hole was made into a small mound to allow the roots to be spread out over this ensuring soil contact was good and no air pockets appeared while back filling.
Roots that meet air pockets can be damaged or die.

The plants were placed in the centre of the holes.
The excavated soil was replaced into hole minus any rocks or tree roots and debris it contained.

When the required level was reach the soil was gently pushed down to tamper it down.
As the soil was reasonably moist this was all that was needed for the bare rooted trees, otherwise the soil may have needed to be lightly walked over to be tamped down properly.

The surrounding soil was pushed into a dish to allow water to collect around the plant. As these plants are growing in an arid area I made these quite large so the water will collect around the newly planted trees and have adequate time to soak in.
Later the trees each had two drip emitters placed about 30cm from the main trunk.
As the tree grows these will be moved out to the drip line each year.

After the plants were planted they were watered-in thoroughly to further eliminate any air pockets and settle the soil.
These bare rooted trees were watered using the bucket of water their roots had been soaking in with the added seaweed extract.
As we had recently had some rain this water soaked into the ground well, not requiring any wetting agents to be used these may be needed in very dry soil.

After planting:

Mulch was added to help suppress weeds, reduced soil temperature fluctuations, help retain soil moisture and add nutrients (depending on type used) after it breaks down.
The trees were mulched with shredded paper (until we can get straw for a more permanent mulch) with some of the lucerne prunings, from surrounding plants, added.
The trees were fed with a complete organic slow release fertiliser before the mulch was added as the paper contains little nutrient and may cause a nutrient loss as it breaks down.
Care was taken to keep the mulch away from the trunk and main stems of the plants to avoid chances of rotting the trunk.
Mulch was applied between 50 -150mm in depth.

The bare rooted fruit trees were pruned back hard to compensate for the amount of root area that was severed when they were dug up (at the nursery). The branches were cut back to about half to one-third of their total length as suggested on the planting instructions that came with them.

These cuts were made to an outside facing bud and the cut was made 12mm above a bud to allow the bud to develop strongly. The cut was made on a 45 degree angle to allow water to flow away from the bud allowing the cut to heal.
Damaged stems were removed first, being careful not to damage the branch collar on the trunk.

The trees were fed with a commercial (Fecondo) complete organic slow release fertiliser containing: (according to the manufacturer's website)
finely crushed mineral rich rock composted with blood and bone, fish emulsion, humic and fulvic acids, natural hormones, vitamins, bio stimulants and a host of beneficial soil microbes”.

The Apple tree was staked for protection.
This area is a chicken run and while it doesn't contain any chickens at the moment in spring some new hens will move in for pest control under the fruit trees.
The other two fruit trees are in a bed that will be fenced off from the chickens but this one is in an area that will not be fenced.
As the Apple tree grows the protection will be removed to allow the chickens to scratch around the base of the tree for insect control.
Rocks will be added if they scratch the root area too much.

Now you've planted some fruit trees you may like to consider some companion plants for them...see this post.

Companion Planting For Fruit Trees


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