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Farmer Dave
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Planting fruit trees how do you like to do it?

Greetings tree planters
Its pouring rain now and I am glad I just got a few trees planted before it started. I have a homestead orchard of about 60 trees and every year I try to plant a few more as some are getting old or I want to try new varieties.
I started out about 30 years ago planting my first 50 trees and just dug small holes to fit the roots, added rock minerals and then weeded and top dressed them with manure as the years went by. The soil was pretty gravely and they grew slowly but are now mature and doing great. I have been a little more impatient lately and only plant a few trees a year so have been digging 3 foot holes and filling with compost and manure. They grow quickly but I am having a higher mortality rate. My wife says I am killing them with kindness. This year I went back to small holes but helped a friend plant some trees on his place. He wanted to try big holes and used his back hoe to dig them and filled them with composted manure. It will be interesting to see how his trees do. He was so enthusiastic I thought maybe I should try big holes again. I am wondering what experience others have had?
I am raising my family on a permaculture homestead in Northern California. I like to shares my knowledge and passion for organic home gardening.

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Farmer Dave

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applestar
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I have to take the backseat on this one as I don't have the years of experience with trees -- like you, for instance. But I have been reading a lot about how to plant fruit trees, and all my readings bears out what you said about smaller holes -- to a point:

o Don't dig deeper than the root ball, otherwise the tree will settle deeper into the ground in the loosened soil.
o Mix 1/2 and 1/2 with native soil AT THE MOST. More native soil the better, no matter how bad it is because the roots are eventually going to encounter that and adapt to growing in it, AND (this part I'm really *getting* just recently) it contains the native/local living soilweb/microorganisms.
o LOOSEN by forking/fracturing the soil around the planting site. Otherwise the roots will circle around in the planting hole.
o DON'T add manure at the time of planting -- this advice has accompanied every fruit tree I've planted so far. Not even compost, some of them say.
o MULCH, MULCH, and MORE MULCH up to and past the drip line (except immediately around the trunk)
o Protect the trunk from chewing animals

I've been planting my trees this way. Some trees are also planted ABOVE grade, rootball covered with a mound of mixed soil and mulched, for better drainage as I have solid clay subsoil.

I could tell you in 10 years or so if these trees are growing well or not. :lol:
I guess I *can* tell you that a dwarf apple tree and some plum trees that were planted by mostly the same method (not so much mulching as described) have been growing pretty well for the past 12 years or so....

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soil
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i use a technique i learned from a french guy, this is for planting bare root trees.

get some old cow or horse manure or quality compost
some liquid stinging nettles
a big barrel
and some water

make a slurry with the manure and water, not too thick but enough to coat the roots so it sticks. add some liquid nettles ( not too much ) and soak the roots in that for an hour or so. then while they are soaking dig your holes. pull out plants but don't wash off the coating on the roots( this helps keep the roots moist when going into the soil and preventing air pockets from drying out the roots) plant as normal and watch that tree explode come springtime!

i find a nice dose of aerated compost tea helps when the buds are starting to swell.
For all things come from earth, and all things end by becoming earth.

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applestar
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Oh right! I forgot about that technique for the bareroots -- except I put a double-handful of compost (manure not being readily available) in the soaking water (5 gal bucket), and then someone here mentioned mud, so I've been adding some clay (not hard to find :roll:).

I get the feeling my "scale" of planting is much smaller than either of you are talking about.... :lol:

Stinging nettles -- I finally have some growing in my garden, so hopefully, I'll be able to add some next time. Definitely adding to ACT when the nettles are in full growth.

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soil
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yea i forget about it from time to time its just i am planting bare roots trees in just a few days when it stops dumping rain. its a great method and i have had 1st year trees that the method was applied to surpass 2nd year trees that did not get it. clay is a good addition i did not mention,its just good to not add so much. the compost/manure provides a nice crumbly coating.

you don't need the nettles, but you know the french they love there purin d ortie ( nettle tea )
For all things come from earth, and all things end by becoming earth.

The Helpful Gardener
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Soil, my friend [url=https://www.wtic.com/pages/16256.php?]Lisa[/url] has discovered nettle tea and is mad for the stuff; she swears anti-fungal capacity, nitrogen boost, stimulated biology, the works... and coating the bare root in a humusy clay mixture is an old and effective tool for planting (the recent update is to use the water retention polymers, but I think the old school method makes WAY more sense). And nettles can only help... :wink:

HG
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soil
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i promote the use of nettles a lot. mainly because it is local just about anywhere on earth. or a very large percentage at least. and works wonders. i have only found it to be anti fungal when dealing with the nasty ones. as i have decomposing and mycorrhizal fungi growing out my garden beds like crazy and i use nettle regularly. but never fungal diseases.

i just love the bare root planting method, will never do it any other way.
For all things come from earth, and all things end by becoming earth.

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Yeah, strangely, in a dilute tea, it is great as an antifungal spray, but the high mucilage content makes it a great fungal food in the soil...

Ain't Nature grand? Always with the mysteries :mrgreen:

They still don't know how water gets all the way to the top of a redwood. Cohesion and capillary action will get you to almost two hundred feet, but some are higher than that :? :P :D

:?:

HG
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Farmer Dave
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so much to learn

Great forum! Now I like nettle tea for me but I never thought of soaking my roots in it or using it as an anti fungal spray. Has anyone used it as a foliage spray either to prevent fungus or just as a nutrient and mineral spray? Sometimes I get black spots on my tomatoes which I think is a blight of some kind maybe nettle tea would help. I should probably post that question for the tomato buffs.
Good thoughts all the way around.

Farmer Dave
I am raising my family on a permaculture homestead in Northern California. I like to shares my knowledge and passion for organic home gardening.

https://www.family-gardens.com
See you there
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JONA878
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There are as many ways to plant fruit trees as planters who plant them.
I have found that the real secret is preperation of the site well before planting.
Plenty of compost into the ground the summer prior to planting. Get the ph right and check drainage.
Make sure there is no soil pan under the tree hole, and don't over manure the planting soil. Manure will burn the trees roots very easily.
Have a strong stake with a good tie so there is no rocking in the wind.
Mulch well after planting once the soil is good and wet but keep the mulch away from the base of the tree.

As to the root ball.
Many years ago....back in the 1800's...there was a horticulturalist called Stringfellow.
He observed that if all the roots were cut off a maiden apple tree leaving just the stem and the tree was stuck straight into the ground and staked well, the tree grew as well as any planted in the normal manner. In fact after a year trees lifted were found to have developed as good a root system as the un-cut ones.
Around ten years ago we had to plant up an acre of orchard in the multi-row high density system.
This entailed planting over a thousand trees to the acre instead of the usual 300 or so.
Facing such a task the thought of digging a thousand holes we decided to give the Stringfellow system a go.
There were three of us.
The trees position was marked out and the stakes banged in.
The first man drove a heavy spiked metal pole...( Called a wrecker ) a foot into the ground.
Number two cut the roots off the tree.
Number three pushed the tree into the hole and stamped on the top to firm in.
It took just two days to plant the lot.
That orchard is still in full production and over the first three years we lost only about a dozen trees.

Now I don't recomend useing this system to plant garden trees...but it does show that providing the soil prep is good...trees are tougher than we think.

Jona

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soil
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Great forum! Now I like nettle tea for me but I never thought of soaking my roots in it or using it as an anti fungal spray. Has anyone used it as a foliage spray either to prevent fungus or just as a nutrient and mineral spray? Sometimes I get black spots on my tomatoes which I think is a blight of some kind maybe nettle tea would help. I should probably post that question for the tomato buffs.
Good thoughts all the way around.
nettle tea is a great foliar spray, your tomatoes will love you for it.

but don't go soaking plants in nettle tea! in the method above its diluted a lot at least 1:20. pure nettle tea can be used as an herbicide because its so strong. ALWAYS dilute before application, even more so with foliar sprays
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Amazing, JONA, who woulda thunk it!? Cut the roots off a 1000 trees and stuck them in the ground. It makes me shudder. You are right, trees are tougher than we think. Good lesson!

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Interesting stuff, indeed...

As long as we have the correct biologies, they will assist the plant in uptake almost immediately. Stands to reason that Jonas was planting in good soil; I'm betting on old pasture, with the biology only decades of ruminant poop can provide...did I get it right, Jona?

Jona's other point is extremely valid; if the new tree is not stable and wobbles about; then delicate mycorrhizal hyphae are going to tear and break, let alone any new rooting. Once broken, fungal hyhae are done. Need to start over and grow new ones.

That stable start will set up any tree for life, so don't skimp. Two stakes is better than one and anything over an inch DBH should have three. Using twine or other thin tying material will damage cambium, so be sure to use wider material or guards over the contact point. [url=https://www.earthanchor.com/duckprod.html]Duckbill anchors[/url]are a newer and perfectly viable method for securing trees, but three is minimal for this method.

Jona's counsel is good; concentrate on good staking, and if you soil is good, the rest sorts itself out...

HG
Last edited by The Helpful Gardener on Thu Jan 21, 2010 7:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Scott Reil

JONA878
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The Helpful Gardener wrote:Interesting stuff, indeed...

As long as we have the correct biologies, they will assist the plant in uptake almost immediately. Stands to reason that Jonas was planting in good soil; I'm betting on old pasture, with the biology only decades of ruminant poop can provide...did I get it right, Jona?

Jona's other point is extremely valid; if the new tree is not stable and wobbles about; then delicate mycorrhizal hyphae are going to tear and break, let alone any new rooting. Once broken, fungal hyhae are done. Need to start over and grow new ones.

That stable start will set up any tree for life, so don't skimp. Two stakes is better than one and anything over an inch DBH should have three. Using twine or other thin tying material will damage cambium, so be sure to use wider material or guards over the contact point. [url=https://www.earthanchor.com/duckprod.html]Duckbill anchors[/url]are a newer and perfectly viable method for securing trees, but three is minimal for this method.

Jona's counsel is good; concentrate on good staking, and if you soil is good, the rest sorts itself out...

HG
Spot on HG.
It was good meadow land and had no prior tree plantings.
I should say too that I think it would only apply to maiden trees. I guess anything older would have too much transperation area up top to be able to keep going until feeder roots had grown.
I do know that one of my friends planted many acres in the 90's useing this method and had great success but his soil was very good and he always tested for any re-plant problems beforehand.


Jona

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rainbowgardener
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So by maiden trees you mean little seedlings?

JONA878
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rainbowgardener wrote:So by maiden trees you mean little seedlings?
I mean one year old grafted trees.
They are around 4 - 5ft tall according to variety and good ones would have plent of small side shoots..( feathers )

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Farmer Dave
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Maiden trees

A maiden tree is usually considered a single 1 year stem, the product of budding or grafting. Similar to a whip.
I am raising my family on a permaculture homestead in Northern California. I like to shares my knowledge and passion for organic home gardening.

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JONA878
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Re: Maiden trees

Farmer Dave wrote:A maiden tree is usually considered a single 1 year stem, the product of budding or grafting. Similar to a whip.
The day when a fruit grower would be content with a single whip as a one year old apple maiden are gone.
Perhaps on some of the more difficult triploid varieties, ok, but in the main he would expect at least eight to ten feathers on his stem.
In that first year from budding he would want the nursery to induce bud initiation up the growing stem so that he does not have to cut back to get the branch system going.

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Farmer Dave
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stand corrected

Hey Jona
I see what you mean, I was using an old definition.
I am raising my family on a permaculture homestead in Northern California. I like to shares my knowledge and passion for organic home gardening.

https://www.family-gardens.com
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Hibrix
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Hi guys

Have a look on google for rocket pots. An arborist here in Perth who I deal with swears by them. Bassically they prevent the fruit tree roots from curling back in on themselves. Sounds like a reasonable theory.
From little things big things grow

The Helpful Gardener
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Checked out some interesting pots at New England Grows that air pruned the roots, causing really great ramification near the root ends. One of them was the rocket pot, but there are several using this type tech. The guys on the bonsai forum have been doing this with colanders and such for a while. Really works...

HG
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I have determined that fruit trees prefer to be abused, ignored, and basically misused.
I planted a dozen fruit trees, well cleared woods area, plenty of daylight, deeply dug holes, enriched, you name it. They were awesome.
They all died the first winter, notta thing left but a rotten stem.

The next go round, I bought 3 trees, and just as I arrived home, I got a phone call from the Army that my son was injured in Iraq, to get my passport in order.

Well, long story short, those trees got small holes, barely dug, right under a black walnut tree... to hold them, until I dealt with the crisis.

I went to Germany for 2 weeks, to be with my son. He is now okay.
I got home and on the third day home, recovering from jet lag, and catching up my house, unpacking etc... I managed to re-break my right hand and discovered it had been broken for about 2 months, and I thought it was only bruised. Well, the cast made it definite this time.

How to re-plant trees with a cast... wait it out.
Well, those trees survived with haphazard watering, and little more.
No compost, no mulch, no decent holes, nothing.

The next spring, I expected to pull out dead stems... they lived!
The first ones ever... Second winter one died...

It is now 5 years later and they are still alive. The peach tree sets fruits when the weather doesn't kill the blooms, but the apricot just makes leaves.

I did build boxes around them, and fill them with aged compost and keep it topped up now. But, they survived, the blackwalnut roots, the poorly prepared hole, the clay soil, the lack of care.... all of it.

I will never baby fruit trees again... it kills them.
Talk to your plants.... If your plants talk to you... Run!

The Helpful Gardener
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OL, sorry to hear about your boy but glad to hear he is okay. I wish him home ASAP (and the rest too).

HG
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Ozark Lady
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Thanks, actually, he is home, he is no longer in the military at all. But, he would like to be...

We just have to believe that our sons and daughters there know what they are doing, and will do the best job they can.

My son felt that he made a difference while he was there. We need to be supportive of our military persons, whether we agree with the war, or reasons or not. Many were national guard, like my son, and didn't really mean to leave the country.

Aren't we fortunate to not live in a war-torn country? I have read of gardeners in countries where they must watch for mines while gardening... And my major worry is snakes...

I pray that America stays free and war free. And we can continue to gripe about the weather, the prices, the this and that... and not have to watch out for mines as we garden.
Talk to your plants.... If your plants talk to you... Run!

GeorgiaGirl
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GREAT info on this thread - thank you, Farmer Dave and others! I was just looking at peach and apple trees at the nursery this morning but decided against buying any just yet, scared of the thought of having to spray for bugs etc.

Where do you buy your fruit trees? At your favorite local nursery or are any of the online sites decent for good quality fruit trees at a not-too-outrageous cost?

Boy, Farmer Dave, I thought I was going fruit-tree-crazy by planning to plant 10-12 fruit and nut trees. I can't imagine having an orchard the size yours is -- how wonderful that must be!!
Julia in Georgia

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