Planting and Caring for a New Tree - Growing Fruit Trees - Permaculture Vegetable Gardening, Vegie Garden, Food Forest

Planting and Caring for a New Tree

When you have decided on which kind of fruit tree you would like, and where you would like it, you can finally start to plant it. If you buy your tree from a nursery, be especially careful when you are taking it from the nursery to your house. I once had a friend who put the tree in the back of his truck, but clipped a sign on the way home. The entire tree snapped in half, and my friend was left a very sad man.

Water the Tree Before Planting

Trees should be watered thoroughly several hours before planting to moisten the root ball.

Digging the Hole

When you have gotten your tree safely back to your yard, look at the bottom of it and see how big the clump of roots is. It may seem like a lot of work now, but you want to dig a hole that is twice as wide as the clump, and just a little less deep. Making the hole slightly bigger than the clump of roots allows there to be room for the soil that you dug out to be put back in. Otherwise you would be stuck with a giant heap of unwanted dirt, and nowhere to put it.

Planting Your Tree

After you have dug the hole, line the hole with some compost or fertiliser so that the tree will grow better. After you have done this you should set your fruit tree into the hole, and spread the roots out evenly so that the tree will be strong and stable.

Filling the Hole

When all of this business is done, take the soil that you dug up and fill in the hole completely. Unless you want big piles of dirt everywhere, you should be sure you use all of the dirt even is it is a couple inches higher than the rest of your yard. This is because it will compress when watered. Before you firm up the soil, make sure that the tree is completely vertical and will not fall over. After you have checked that the tree is perfectly vertical you can gently firm up the soil.

Watering

After you have filled in the hole with soil, give your tree a good water. At least 20 litres of water should be applied to each tree to settle in soil around roots.

Staking

If the tree's trunk is not yet completely sturdy and can be bent, you need to tie the tree to a stake with a bit of rope. Be sure not to tie the rope tightly to the tree, as you need to allow room for the trunk to grow. Once the tree is sturdy enough to withstand all types of weather, you can take the stakes off of it. When all of this is done you should mulch around the base of the tree. If you live in an area where wildlife can access your yard, then you should put a fence around your tree, because some animals will eat the bark off of young trees.

See below for more on staking young trees.

Fruiting

Once you have successfully planted your fruit tree it will start to bear fruit after it is three to five years old. Once your tree starts to carry a lot of fruit you should periodically pick some of the fruit so that the branches aren't weighed down too much. If the fruit gets too thick, the branches can break off. On some years your tree might not bear as much fruit as others, but this should not worry you. Healthy trees often take years on “vacation” where they produce little or no fruit.

Pests

After you've planted your tree you might start to have some problems with pests. To help keep these pests away, always rake away old leaves, brush, or any other decaying matter that could be holding bugs that could be harmful to your tree.

Pruning

To make sure that your tree always stays healthy in the long run, you should prune it during winter or spring.

Watering

Water your tree every two weeks during dry times, and be sure not to hit your tree with a lawn mower or a weed eater because it could severely damage the growth process. Also just make sure that your tree gets plenty of water and plenty of sun, and your growing experience should be just great.

Staking a Young Tree

When a tree is in the young stages, one of the most vital things you need to provide for it in addition to water and nutrients is support. If you don’t hold up the tree somehow, it might end up bending in a certain direction and growing extremely crooked for the rest of its life. So no matter what, you should always have some kind of support.

The most popular method of keeping young trees upright is to put long stakes into the ground on either side, and tie loops around the tree. Each loop should be fairly loose to allow for further expanding of the trunk. Lots of people just have a stake on one side of the tree, but this is not a good practice because it generally doesn’t allow for further growth of the tree.

You should only be staking your tree if you think that wind and other forces might be literally moving the ball of roots within the ground. Your staking should prevent all of this movement, because this is the most harmful thing that can happen to a young tree. It causes the roots to be in motion too much and not be able to properly get a hold on the soil so that the tree can develop normally.

Before you stake a tree, you should be completely sure that it needs it. If you constrict the movement and growth of a tree that doesn’t need to be tethered down, you could harm it beyond repair. For example, the staking mechanism you use could cause abrasion or “rashes” on the trunk. This will happen anyways, but why have it happen needlessly? Also, staking gives your yard an unnatural look and can present a hazard for people walking or running across the yard.

The staking process is actually rather simple. Just take 3 stakes and tie each one separately near the base of the trunk. If you use some sort of tether to prevent rope burn on your tree, that would be an even better solution. These can be purchased at any gardening shop, and are designed to be friendly to the bark of the tree. It is much better to stick with these instead of bare rope, to minimize the amount of friction the tree endures.

When you think your tree has been staked long enough to stand on its own, you should remove the stakes from the ground as soon as humanly possible. Every moment the tree is constricted it is losing some of its vitality. As soon as it seems like the wind is dying down around your area, look on the weather reports and see how much wind is forecasted. If the skies will be pretty clear for a while, you should at least temporarily take off the stakes.

To wrap it all up, you should never deny your tree a good staking. It is a completely necessary thing to do in certain situations. It is very crucial to understand when those occasions are, though. Staking a tree that doesn’t need it can be as damaging as not staking a tree that does need it. It might be beneficial for you to consult an expert, and get their opinion as to whether your tree should be staked, and for how long.

Recommended Viewing

Patch From Scratch & Cottage Gardens, by Peter Cundall and Gardening Australia Patch From Scratch & Cottage Gardens, by Peter Cundall and Gardening Australia (DVD). This is a combination of two videos that used to be sold separately on VHS. The "Patch from Scratch" video is really, really good if you want to learn from scratch about how to grow vegetables organically. In Patch from Scratch, Peter Cundall shows you step-by-step how to start a vegetable garden, beginning with an ordinary suburban lawn. He goes through each season (some of then broken into early and late) for 18 months, describing everything in amazing detail. There is so much information in this video you could watch it 100 times and still learn more. The only real criticism of it I can think of is that it is so densely packed with information, your brain gets saturated after 10 or 15 minutes. So don't expect to take it all in in one sitting. I would recommend watching it through all the way just for an introduction, and then watch just the section for each month that you are up to, and do what he explains in that month/season.

Click here to purchase from Australia (Fishpond)

Recommended Reading

Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre, by  Brett L. Markham. NEW: Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre, by Brett L. Markham. Start a mini farm on a quarter acre or less, provide 85 percent of the food for a family of four and earn an income.

Mini Farming describes a holistic approach to small-area farming that will show you how to produce 85 percent of an average family’s food on just a quarter acre — and earn $10,000 in cash annually while spending less than half the time that an ordinary job would require.

Even if you have never been a farmer or a gardener, this book covers everything you need to know to get started: buying and saving seeds, starting seedlings, establishing raised beds, soil fertility practices, composting, dealing with pest and disease problems, crop rotation, farm planning, and much more. Because self-sufficiency is the objective, subjects such as raising backyard chickens and home canning are also covered along with numerous methods for keeping costs down and production high. Materials, tools, and techniques are detailed with photographs, tables, diagrams, and illustrations.

Click here to purchase from Australia (Booktopia)

Click here to purchase from Australia (Fishpond)

Click here to purchase from Australia (The Nile)

Click here to purchase from Amazon

HOTSurvival, Self Sufficiency and Sustainable LivingThis book is the #1 Best Seller in Gardening & Horticulture Reference on Amazon

See Also

Return to Growing Fruit Trees

Sustainable Organic Farming
Starting Your Own Box Garden
Starting a Vegetable Garden
Vegetable Gardening Books
Return to Permaculture and Vegetable Gardening
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