Saturday, August 09, 2008

Planting Instrucions for Bare-Root Fruit Trees (by www.treepeople.org)

1. CHOOSING A SITE FOR YOUR TREE

Carefully choose a site that receives several hours of sunlight each day and has good drainage. If possible, avoid planting in a lawn because grass competes with trees for water and soil nutrients. If you can only plant in a lawn, remove grass around the tree and keep the area mulched. Plant the tree away from lawn sprinklers or redirect them away from the tree.

If planting fruit trees close together (a practice gaining popularity in urban areas) you will need more frequent pruning and care through-out the year.

2. PREPARING & PLANTING

PREPARING THE TREE

* Cut off any broken roots.

* Soak tree roots in a bucket of water overnight

PREPARING THE HOLE

* Dig a hole wide and deep enough to fit the tree's roots without bending or cramping them.

PLANTING THE TREE

* Place the tree in the hole. While holding the tree, spread the roots in their natural position and make sure the graft union is at least two-to three-inches above the ground.

* Settle the dirt around the roots by slowly pouring two gallons of water.

* While the water is absorbing, finish filling the hole and lightly compress the dirt around the roots with your fingers. Finish watering with two more gallons. Note: Don't forget to use your bucket water from soaking the tree overnight.

* If the root crown is too low (at or below ground level) hold the tree trunk and pump it up and down gently while raising it to the right level.

* Build a ridge (or "beam") of soil about four inches high around the hole to make a watering basin.

STAKING YOUR TREE

* Stake your tree at planting time with one to two stakes on either side of the trunk.

* Align the stakes on opposite sides of the tree in the direction of prevailing winds and check ties regularly. Use soft tree ties such as rubber and do not make too tight. Do not use wire.

* Ideally the tree will be strong enough to have stakes removed after the first year.

3. ONGOING FRUIT TREE CARE

WATERING

Check soil weekly by digging down three- to four-inches. If soil is dry, slowly fill the watering basin with five to ten-gallons of water (soil should almost dry out between waterings). This deep watering should occur twice weekly the first summer. Note: The tree will need more water in warm weather and during its second year.

PROTECTION

Young fruit trees are brittle and easily broken. If planted near play areas for children or dogs, place a few stakes around the tree's watering basin. Stretch string between the stakes as a reminder to watch out for the tree.

MULCHING

Mulch keeps soil moist and reduces weeds. Place a two- to four-inch layer of mulch around your tree and cover its watering basin. To prevent rot, do not allow mulch to touch the trunk of your tree. Examples of mulch include: wood chips, dry leaves, bark, and your favorite compost.

PRUNING

TreePeople's bare-root fruit trees grown on standard rootstock and can become 15- to 30-feet tall. Annual pruning will keep your tree shorter. Only begin pruning if your tree has obvious structural problems or it is ready for shaping - usually after its first year in the ground.

BASIC PRUNING TIPS

* Remove diseased, damaged or dead branches.

* Remove crossing branches or branches ground upward at a sharp angle to the trunk.

* Cut back an overly tall central "leader" - as well as thin or overly long branches - to just above an outward facing bud (facing away from the tree's center).

FRUIT

Your tree may bear fruit its first year but it's best to remove first fruit so the tree can send all its strength into growing branches. If you don't want to remove your entire first crop, remove some of the early fruit to help strengthen the tree. Once the tree is regularly producing fruit, if you want to have larger individual fruit, remove some of the fruit when it is the size of a quarter.

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