In our new orchard we followed the traditional advice to dig DEEP and LARGE holes. Just as we spent MEGA BUCKS (about $100/hole) getting these holes dug and buying Kellogg Amend by the pallet (for a 50/50 mix), I find that the latest recommendations are to dig a SHALLOW wide hole and NOT to amend the native dirt with compost.
So we have 12 giant compost amended tree holes in the orchard and about as many outside. 3 trees will be in an area that was once amended about a foot deep for a garden, but the rest of the trees outside the orchard will be in native dirt.
Here’s an OLD Dave Wilson video on fruit tree planting:
As ALWAYS, read the COMMENTS!
One person lost a tree after cutting it down to knee height as recommended in the video.
Also, the Kellogg Topper wouldn’t have been their first choice for mulch, but it’s what they had.
Interestingly, they put the mulch right up against the trunk and I’ve heard at least a thousand times not to do that as it can cause the tree to rot. What gives?
We’re currently building “frames” around the tree holes in the orchard and we will add about a foot of our dirt / Amend mix. When you fill deep holes, trees can settle significantly as they get larger and heavier. We’ll probably plant the trees even higher because I wouldn’t mind keeping the raised beds around the trees. We’ll be growing all sorts of companion plants such as comfrey, lupines, yellow bird of paradise and herbs and it’ll be our summer veggie garden until the trees provide too much shade.
When we get ready to plant we’ll stick the trees in a bucket with water and some kelp and when we plant it we’ll sprinkle myccorhizae granules on the wet roots and into the planting hole where the roots will likely touch it.
If the bareroot trees have any branches, we’ll plant so that the least dense side faces south.
We amend with rock dust, gypsum, manganese, epsom salt, iron, zinc, micro minerals, humic acid, nitrogen fixing microbes and soft rock phosphate. I was so excited when I saw that Arbico near Tucson sells 50 lbs bags of soft rock phosphate for $18.45. I thought I’d get 10 bags as it’s so expensive to ship. Good thing I called to see how many they have in stock, found out that it’s drop shipped from Arkansas. So I ordered two bags and it costs $21.76 per bag to ship UPS.
It’ll be very interesting to see which planting method works better — big deep holes with 50/50 native dirt and Amend or shallow holes with native dirt.
With regards to amendments, they work when your soil is deficient of whatever it is you’re adding.
That’s why it’s best to see what your neighbors are doing and how it works for them when you plant in native soil.
We’ve paid for several soil tests and while I don’t think that the money was wasted, they’re not so helpful in our high pH calcareous soil.
In case you’re wondering why we are planting bare root trees, I’ve heard that they’ll do better than potted trees. Everything we propagate is grown in 50% native dirt so the plants don’t have so much transplant shock. I also really don’t care for the fertilizer granules we usually find in purchased plants no matter where we buy them.
Tomorrow I’ll pick up another load of mulberry cuttings for mulch. We could use another 1
In my experience, most problems are caused by either WEATHER or CRITTERS.
We hope to eventually cover the entire orchard, but several trees will be planted outside. Most likely the cherry, peach, nectarine and plum trees will be in the orchard. The apple and apricot trees on the north side of the property and the nut trees east of the orchard.
While our Fuji apple blooms and sets fruit every year, we have yet to get a single apple.
It blooms, the wind blows, it freezes, the wind blows, and blows, we see a few little apples …. and then they’re gone. This year the Arizona reeds north of the Fuji should be tall enough to protect it from the wind and hopefully will also keep it a little warmer.
I’d like to put the most vulnerable trees in the middle of the orchard and have more hardy varieties along the outside.
Since the direction of the wind changes from predominantly north to south sometime in spring, it would be so helpful to know WHEN the trees will bloom. One of our cherries:
Royal Rainier Cherry – Semi-dwarf
Large, yellow cherry with slightly more red blush than Rainier. Excellent flavor, taste test winner. Ripens early, about 3-5 days ahead of Rainier. Pollenizer required: Lapins for low chill areas and in other areas, any sweet cherry. Moderate chill requirement, 500 hours estimated. Available on Colt.
What exactly does “ripens early” mean? Since I don’t have a Rainier “about 3-5 days ahead of Rainier” means nothing to me.
Of course I realize that it depends on the weather when trees bloom, so you can’t predict when fruit trees “wake up”. Last spring was so mild, our grapes were flowering by late April when we had another hard frost and they promptly froze.
While I also want to know when the fruit ripens, it’s just as important to know when trees flower.