When we moved into our home, we knew that we would have a garden, and that would include a section of multiple fruit trees. We are very much into self-sustainability, living off the land, controlling our food sources and saving money. What we did not know, was type or placement until we did our research. Buying a grafted fruit tree like sweet apples, plums, pears and other fruits means that the trees have been grafted to produce quality tasting fruit or able to fight off disease or drought.
Although fruit trees can be planted from seed you may have a home, the resulting trees won’t necessarily produce fruit that’s good to eat. In order not to waste years of energy trying to make the tree grow and produce fruit you’ll want to eat, the best idea is to buy a dwarf fruit tree, which is a very young tree that has been grafted onto a root stock to improve its growth. That is what we have done.
The trees are available for purchase bare-root or potted. Bare-root trees are dug up and shipped while they are dormant. You should plant them as soon as you receive them. While the potted trees are grown in a pot and will have more fine roots attached.
Buying a tree from a local nursery is best, since you are supporting a local business, but additionally they will be able to advise and stock trees that do well in your region.
As for planting look for an open, sunny spot in the yard. Fruit trees generally need at least six hours of full sunlight in order to grow strong and produce healthy fruit. Look for a spot in the yard where the fruit tree won’t be shaded by your home or other taller trees. You should also look for a spot without a lot of other foliage nearby, so the tree won’t have to compete with other plants for nutrients and water. For our home, we wanted the fruit trees to make a screen from one section of yard to another.
Select the location of your fruit tree by imagining it at full size. Take into account its width and understand that the roots of your tree will reach out as far as the length of the branches. This means that you don’t want it too close to a building or driveway. As with ours since we were using the trees as a screen, we had to make sure that the width of each branch did not over compete the next tree but that it had the ability to grow out and back as much as was desired. This close proximately to each other created privacy, but also meant we had to be always alerted to moisture, environmental and pest damage.
Aside from full sun, proper soil drainage is the other essential condition for thriving fruit trees. The soil must not retain a lot of water, or it will cause the fruit trees’ roots to rot in the ground. Check the soil drainage by digging a hole 1 foot deep and filling it with water. If the water drains quickly, the area should be fine for planting a fruit tree. If the water stands in the hole, choose another part of the yard.
Fruit trees can be planted at any time of year, but in areas with cold winters or hot summers, your best bet is to wait until spring. This will allow the tree to immediately start adapting to the soil and growing roots. It’s also the best time of year for breaking ground, since the soil will be thawed and easy to dig.
Add compost to the soil if necessary, it will loosen the soil, provide better drainage and make room for the tree’s roots to begin growing. When planting remember to dig a wide hole, twice as wide as the spread of the roots of the tree you’re planting. Fruit trees’ roots tend to grow outward, and this will give them plenty of room. And do not bury to deep, keep the graft at the base of the tree stay above the soil.
One the hole is dug position the tree in the hole, throw a little loose soil into the hole, get the tree visibly as vertical as possible and push back in the soil while adjusting the tree to make sure its still vertical. Press soil around the roots, press the soil down gently and then water.
Be sure not to overwater the tree, however my rule is to place the hose at the base of the tree, have it on full blast and count out two minutes. After that I go on to the next tree and repeat. I do this every day the first 7 days, then I switch to every other day for 7 days, then switch to every third day for 7 days and then once a week throughout the first summer.
Cover the soiled area with a layer of organic mulch. This will retain the moisture in the soil and protect the roots. It will prevent grass and weeds from growing and competing for nutrients and water as well. Ensure that the graft line is not covered by mulch; it needs to remain visible above ground level.