Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Fruit Tree Planting

Deciduous trees can be planted out from a container at virtually any time of the year, but the best time is when the plant is dormant. The first thing to do when buying a tree is to look at the root system. The roots have usually been cut back so that the tree can be carried around. Thus the roots are relatively small compared to the height of the plant. It is also important to look at the grafting union on the stem to see if it has been damaged.

Inspect the roots and cut off any damaged ones. Immediately, place the plant in a bucket of water containing a small amount of seaweed concentrate to keep the roots moist and supply the plant with minerals.

You will need a wooden stake to provide the tree with support until it becomes established. Dig a wide hole. This is important because you do not want the roots to be bent. Once dug, take the plant and test the hole for depth and width. Position the plant so that the roots are just below the soil surface. If the hole is too deep fill it in a little.

Once the hole is the correct dimensions, position the tree and tie it loosely to the stake. Then begin backfilling around the roots with a mixture of mushroom compost, soil and peat to hold in the moisture. Make sure that there are no air pockets by gently shaking the stem so that the soil filters down thought the roots. Then fill in the rest and secure the plant to a stake.

After planting you must restore the balance between the shoot system and the root system by pruning the stems so that they are in proportion to the roots. The way you prune will depend on the shape of the tree that you want. If you want the tree to grow into a vase shape, then cut out the main stem and the smaller branches will fan out. Alternatively you can have a christmas tree shape with a dominant stem. To achieve this, prune the lateral shoots back at a bud that is pointing upwards. Next remove all the leaders bar one so that you have a single dominant stem. This leader can be tipped later on when necessary. Lastly, mulch around the tree, keeping it away from the trunk. This will reduce weed growth.

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