Well the day has finally come!! The planting of the fruit trees!. Many of you know that I ordered trees from the National Arbor Day Foundation back in August. The trees were ordered as saplings (Dwarf Winesap and Dwarf Lodi); I was told that the trees would arrive sometime in Mid November.
Well wouldn’t you know it, they arrived the day after Thanksgiving (not so mid) and I was out of town with my family…grrrrr. But the good news is becuase of the good care and preparation by the folks at the NADF ensured that the trees would be healthy if they sat for a day or so in the packaging. NADF preps the roots by soaking them in a gell that helps seal in moisture to the bare roots, they then wrap the roots in wet shredded paper and then enclose the bundle in plastic bags to seal in the moisture for shipping.
I filled a large bucket with water and unpacked the trees and immediately submerged them for 3.5 hours…allowing the bare roots to be exposed to air even for a few minutes can cause damage in these delicate saplings.
While the trees relaxed in their bath, I dug the holes. I dug about 8 inches down, placing the extricated soil next to the hole. I then took a handful of soil and put it back in the bottom of the hole to create a small mound. This will support the root canopy and ensures there will be no air pockets below the roots. You could use compost to create the mound, but if your soil is of good quality and nutrient content, you will not need to add any ammendments and too much fertilizer is not good for trees.
I then carefully place the trees back in the hole and back fill to near the surface. I add water to compress the soil and moisten the soil. After this, add the remaining soil and water again. I then repeated the process with the other tree. The final step was to stake the tree, mulch around it and add protection from rabbits and squirrels by adding a ventilated sleeve around the trunk.
I will water the trees every few days while the weather cooperates and also water when the winter weather allows (dry winter days with no snow). These trees are very small and will not produce fruit for a few years, but they will eventually be beautiful and bountiful espaliered trees adding fruit and form to the garden!