Fruit trees are a wonderful addition to your home garden. These long-lived plants will provide you with an abundance of tasty fruit for many years to come, especially if you get them started right! Here are some tips for adding new fruit trees to your gardens:
Start by figuring out what kinds of fruit trees you want to grow. There are so many wonderful varieties to choose from at Evergreen Nursery that you might feel the need to rent a giant truck to take them all home with you! Different types of trees have different pollination requirements. For instance, Most peaches, nectarines, apricots and citrus are self-fertile, while trees like apples, pears, plums and cherries may need a second tree as a pollinator. Check with us at the nursery. We would be happy to help you pick your favorites!
Once you’ve selected your trees, you’ll want to figure out where you want to plant them. Pretty much every fruit tree you’ll encounter will need a good deal of sunlight and moisture to be happy, so make sure to find a spot with good sun and access to water. You also want to make sure that you have enough room for the tree to grow, so pick a spot that fits the eventual size of the tree.
Now that you’ve found a spot, start digging a hole! Dig a hole that is about twice as wide and the same depth as the roots of the tree you are planting. If the tree is not bare-root and is already potted up, dig a hole twice as wide as the pot. Once you’ve dug your hole, prepare a soil mixture using the soil you pulled out of the hole mixed with about half as much compost. This will help feed the new tree and allow for better moisture retention. We also recommend adding an organic starter fertilizer to this mix as well. Both Fox Farm and E.B. Stone (Specifically E.B. Stone’s Sure Start) are great fertilizer choices!
Take your tree and put it at the center of your planting hole with the roots radiating out towards the edge of the hole. Backfill with that wonderful soil mixture that you’ve created. Have some water handy to settle the soil evenly around the root system and to give it a good initial watering. The surrounding soil level should be equal to the soil level it was in the pot (if it was potted) or just below the graft line if the tree was bare root. If you are not sure what a graft looks like, look for a knobby spot right between the root system and the trunk of the tree. The graft line will be on that knobby section and will look like a scarred transition between one wood type (the rootstock) and another (the tree itself, or scion)
The last task is to stake and berm your tree. Take some of the extra soil from your soil pile and build an elevated ring around the edge of the hole. This berm will make it easier to keep your tree watered as it will force water that falls within it to go down through the root system of your tree. Next, take a nice, sturdy stake (or two) and hammer it in near the base of the tree until firmly in the ground. If there is a common direction that wind comes from on your property, it is worthwhile to put your stake upwind of the tree. Take some stretchy tape or natural twine and tie your tree loosely to the stake. Your tree should retain some ability to sway with the breeze, but not so much that it becomes unseated. Congratulations! You now have a beautifully planted fruit tree! Be sure to keep your tree well watered, as 95% of new plant failures are related to insufficient water making it down into the root system.