Planting seed for orchard plan
Wednesday, 23 May 2012
By Janice Gillgren
Last month I looked at rejuvenating an old orchard. This month I am excited at the prospect of planting fruit trees to create a new orchard.
| Establishing a new orchard comes with pleasure and satisfaction. |
There’s such inherent promise of pleasure and satisfaction to come. Of course, to help realise their potential, young trees need the best start in life.
There are three stages to establishing new trees: Preparation, planting and immediate after-care.
Preparation begins well before planting. First of all, check that the trees you want will be suitable for the associated climate. Order your chosen varieties from a nursery well ahead of time, to avoid disappointment.
Check that soil and its drainage is suitable for the chosen trees. If the ground is poorly drained attend to this before planting.
Plan where you’ll plant the trees and check that there will be sufficient room for spacing. Then, if possible, dig the holes months ahead and place some good food into them that will break down and be available to the trees when planting begins.
Personally, I have found the simplest and most effective way is to dig a hole of about one metre deep by one metre wide, and therein bury a dead creature, such as a lamb. A good load of compost and any specific required nutrients can be added at this time too.
Cover loosely with topsoil to aid decomposition and then cover the hole safely until required.
Be sure to have good water supply at the ready and if you there is no established shelter-belt, create one from wind-cloth unless your orchard is in a very sheltered area.
The type of trees chosen will determine when it is best to plant. Deciduous trees need to be planted in winter, while their roots are dormant; evergreens are better planted either in spring or autumn.
Planting the tree:
Wet days are terrific for planting trees; alternatively, water the hole thoroughly the day before.
Remove the loosened soil from your planting hole until it is just deep enough for the base of the trunk to be at ground level. Loosen the sides with a fork, and if possible, mix some well-matured compost in with the soil and fill in around the tree.
Drive stakes in before planting and trim tree roots if they are too long, rather than squashing them.
Then position the tree in the hole, filling around it gently and firmly till the new soil is all at about the same level as the surrounding soil.
Tie the tree to the stake with something soft and strong – old pantyhose works well.
Water the tree’s base unless it is already really damp. Do this weekly if necessary, until after the following summer at least.
Prune a bare-rooted tree to roughly the same width as the root-ball and only use the recommended amount of fertilisers.
Mulch the tree to conserve moisture preferably using a product that breaks down to also feed the soil. Finally, take note of what you have planted, when and where. This will help you keep tabs on the ongoing development of your orchard and will also help future owners of the property.