How to Plant Fruit Trees
What a fast winter. I guess what they say is true. The older you get the faster time goes buy. Anyway, enough of that.
Every year it seems like I plant at least a couple of fruit trees. This year I added two more cherry trees and a Reliance peach.
The cherry trees do pretty well here, but I do have some challenges with the peach trees. We are located close to the edge of Lake Superior which seems to create a type of microclimate. As a result in some years, the trees are able to produce peaches. I had one reliance peach that was doing great. Then during a construction project, one of the workers drooped a large plank off the roof by accident breaking the tree in half. I could have cried. So last year I planted a tree to replace that one and I am adding another this year as a backup.
Well, the fruit trees came in on schedule. The first thing you want to do is get them unpacked as quickly as possible. They may have started to dry out during the shipping process. I like to submerge their roots in water for 24 hours. This gives them a chance to regain their strength and replace any moisture that may have been lost during transportation. Water is key- especially for the first year, the fruit tree is planted.
Ok time to get started. Small tree big hole. Do yourself and the fruit tree a favor. Make that hole the size of a bushel basket even if the roots are small. Give them some nice loose soil to grow in. Especially if you are planting in clay. Clay soil can be hard for the roots to get started in. I have sandy clay soil here. The trees have a tendency to get off to a slow start. But once they take hold they do very well.
After digging your hole dump a 5-gallon bucket of water into it and let it set till it soaks into the ground.
Inspect the roots of the tree for damage. Use a set of pruning shears and cut off any damaged roots just before the break with a nice clean cut.
It is time to plant the Fruit Tree.
Stand the tree up in the hole. You want the grafted part of the tree just above the ground level. Most nurseries will mark the graft with paint. If you plant the tree too deep it will revert back to a standard size tree if it grows roots above the graft.
Pack the dirt in around the roots. I use the handle end of the shovel to push the dirt into the root area being careful not to damage them. You want to leave as few air pockets as possible. After you have the hole filled up half way add another pail of water. This will not only make sure your new fruit tree has enough moisture- but it will also help take out any air pockets that may be left under the ground around the roots of the tree. After the water soaks in finish filling the hole. I like to stop about an inch from the top to allow a saucer to hold the water.
Examine the tree and prune off any broken or dead branches. Also, this is a good time to take off any branches that are just growing the wrong way. This is a good time to start shaping the tree the way you want it. If you are planting very young smaller diameter trees you will also want to stake them for support.
With some care-proper water and nourishment, the fruit tree will start to bare and you will have fresh fruit for years to come.