How to plant fruit trees

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:

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?
There are numerous Dave Wilson videos at and of course thousands of related videos on YouTube.
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

Spring day and cow pie run

It was a beautiful day today and it’s amazing how HOT we get as soon as we work outside.  The high for the day was 67 F, but it sure felt like it was 20 degrees warmer.  We just had temps in the teens and it’s so nice to get hot outside.
We’re working on filling another 5 tree holes and it was the perfect day to go on a cow pie run to the corral.
2016-2-11--corralThere used to be a lot of old metal, fencing and all sorts of trash and they really cleaned it up.  Unfortunately they also took out the cattails.  It used to be so beautiful, like an oasis.  I’m surprised the fish are still in alive, although the big fish apparently died.
I don’t know what they eat, I suppose bugs, and they have no shelter at all.
It’s a shame to let all that water go to waste: Continue reading “Spring day and cow pie run”

WHERE to plant the fruit trees?

I posted our 25 fruit and nut trees along with their descriptions and they are scheduled to arrive next week.
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.
Sure wish I could have ordered more like the Flora Gold Apricot:

… More consistently productive than many other apricots due to being less susceptible to dropping flowers in areas with considerable difference in spring day and nighttime temperatures.

Should have ordered a few months ago, before they were 80% sold out.
I’m also concerned with location for the trees requiring pollinators.  If a tree flowers while the wind still blows from the north, the pollinator should be north of the tree to be pollinated.
Some trees are “interfruitful.”
But then again, maybe I shouldn’t put all the peaches in the same area because peach specific pests and diseases would be less likely to spread.
Have to make these decisions before the trees arrive next week.

Updated list of trees still available to add to our fruit tree order

I just went through my spreadsheet with the listing of trees I considered ordering a week ago and updated availability. They’re going fast!
I did not add any trees to my list with:

  • Rootstock I didn’t care for such as Citation (not drought tolerant)
  • Low chill hours (bloom to early, frost damage, I ordered one persimmons and it might not do well here)
  • Dwarfs and miniatures
  • Multi grafts
  • Apples (quite a few still available)

I did NOT order any trees NOT grown on rootstock and as we looking for cuttings for propagating from local trees with quality fruit such as figs, jujube, mulberries, olives, pomegranates, …
Our order is posted at
To check for CURRENT availability please check at — at least 80% sold out already!
We get a 20% discount and save 15% on shipping.
We can add to our order until they ship it around mid February and I should have all add-on orders by eve of Thu 2/11.  Since they’re selling out fast, sooner is better!

UPDATED listing of Bay Laurel Nursery fruit trees available as of 2/3/16 AM:

Continue reading “Updated list of trees still available to add to our fruit tree order”

Our Bay Laurel Nursery bareroot fruit and nut tree order

I meant to post sooner, but due to ordering problems (described below), a snowstorm, a day without internet service and our co-op pickup, I got seriously delayed.
So here are the 25 fruit and nut trees we ordered and hopefully they will be shipped around 2/15/16.
High Desert Gardening Club members, friends and neighbors can add to our order to get a 20% discount off trees and shipping is about $6 per tree: Continue reading “Our Bay Laurel Nursery bareroot fruit and nut tree order”