Saturday, November 20, 2010

Fruit Tree Installation

Ok, so first I soaked my little saplings in a bucket of water. The advice booklet from Stark's says to soak for 4-6 hours and no more than 24. Mine soaked for 4 hours, barely.

I don't own a wheelbarrow (hint, hint), so I use a big tub. It's a tub I once used to ship my stuff from Massachusetts to Georgia - in 1993. Seriously. Anyway, I dug a nice hole using my spiffy new shovel (which made disturbing crackly noises on every third or fourth bite), and tossed the soil into the bucket.

Then I amended the soil a bit (peat moss, some leftover potting soil that had a little sand and a little vermiculite in it) and refilled the hole. As you can see, I put in a stake (leftover from when Charles executed the ugly shrub by the front porch) for support from the wind and I planted the sapling toward the back of the hole.

I tamped down the soil (gently) to stabilize the pole, and to eliminate big air pockets around the sapling.

Did I mention the worms? Yeah. Every scoop out of the holes wriggled. It was great. I'm excited about this garden now, because if it's chock full o'worms, then it's fertile and aerated. Whee!

Anyway, back to planting. Having filled the hole and (gently) tamped it down, I then put a 5-gallon bucket of half-decomposed leaves on as mulch. I made sure they didn't touch the trunks, and kept them from flying away by placing the chunks of sod on top (upside-down) as weights. Those are the dark brown bits you can see on the leaves, below.

The idea is that I'm going to espalier both trees, so I planted both right up against the fence. There's maybe 6 inches there, which allows for a good deal of trunk expansion. So I'm going to train the branches out across the fence as they grow, thus preserving the space of the garden but letting the tree grow in 2 dimensions.

The apple tree is a semi-dwarf. It will get 15 feet tall. The pear is a dwarf, so its eventual height is likely only 10 feet. I put the apple on the side of the garden where, once fully grown, it can give us a little extra privacy. The pear sits in an area where there's already a large tree for privacy.

I really wondered what the soil of the backyard would be like. It's a new yard, built with a retaining wall only 1 or 2 years ago. So I had no idea what to expect. But the shovel slid in easily, the soil was black and rich, the worms plentiful. I've got great expectations, now.

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