Sunday, November 18, 2018

Planting & Winterizing Bare Root FRUIT TREES

A simple 'How To' guide on planting bare root fruit trees, step by step, with tips!

In today's post, I will share with you some Best Practices around planting your bare root fruit trees and winterizing them, or in other words, getting them ready to battle the harsh elements that come with winter. Jack Frost has no mercy! But your hardy fruit trees already know this and they are born combat-ready!
This is what a mail-order fruit tree package looks like when it arrives.
Planting bare root fruit trees is not as easy as it may seem. There's a lot of thought that goes into it. You might be thinking to yourself: "How hard can it possibly be?" Well, I can tell you from firsthand experience that the first year can feel overwhelming.


While mother nature has no problem dropping new plants where she desires, us humans need to put a little more thought into it. I'm sure there are purists out there that will tell you that a lot of the stuff I'm doing is unnecessary. While this may be true (in part), when you spend a good amount of money on grafted bare root trees, you want to make sure they not only survive, but thrive!


Soaking prevents the roots drying out and gets the sawdust off.
In turn, there's a lot of thought and preparation that goes into all this. You have to consider your placement, positioning, lighting, soil quality, soil content, water, wind shear and drainage. There can also be unexpected things like obstructions, such as other trees or underground roots that you didn't know were there until you start digging. And then there's the whole array of optional additives that could help the whole process along or hinder your plants growth if you don't use them right. Those are just a few examples of the things you'll have to take into consideration before you even think about planting. 
Digging a square hole works much better than a round one.
Ideally, we would want to graft our own scions, or better yet, plant seeds or saplings from nearby mature trees. This is not always easy or feasible though. That's where ordering from a reputable nursery comes into play.


hardyfruittrees.ca

We personally do business with a great tree vendor called Hardy Fruit Tree Nursery. Some of our readers and viewers may be sick of hearing me talk about them, but honestly, the reason I promote their business so much is because:

  1. They are so great at what they do
  2. Their trees are carefully grown and grafted
  3. They have a super high standard on quality
  4. The shipping and packaging of the trees is done with extreme care
  5. Their customer service is top notch
If that's not enough to sell you on them, I don't know what is! They're just a fantastic company and in this day and age, it's pretty rare to see. So that's why I give them so many props. And before you ask, no, they're not a sponsor! Haha! But maybe some day... 😉

DIY = Do It Yourself (So REALLY, do it YOUR way!)
An important thing to note here is that I don't want you to follow this method exactly. Don't be afraid to get down and dirty with DIY! You should really experiment with your own style, in your own way, with your own particular environment. No two orchards or homesteads are the same, and as such, they shouldn't be treated the same way. Try your best to use 'Whole Systems Designs' when customizing the areas where your trees will go. Your end goal should be to create a "closed loop" where everything will function on its own without you. That's the whole idea here. Nature doesn't need us, we're just helping it along, or "orchestrating nature", if you will. Implementing permaculture designs and systems into your orchard or homestead ensures that your trees grow healthy and strong.

Some examples include:

  • Tree guilds that offer your trees plenty of supportive and beneficial plants nearby to aid in pollination or to keep pests away.
  • Other tree guild plants help draw important minerals to the tree roots.
  • Swales or berms help you control water flow from rainfall.
  • Birds on your homestead help by fertilizing the ground, eating scraps and controlling pests.
  • Worms help you build your soil by breaking down dead vegetation into fantastic compost.
  • Bees are of course great pollinators.
  • Even rocks help by holding the heat from the day and slowly releasing it at night and also provide habitat for reptiles and other animals. Rocks can also create micro-climates for your plants.
A 'Final Fantasy Style' Apple Tree Guild. 2018 © Maple Grove Productions
If you're doing it right, everything will have a purpose and a role to play in balancing your ecosystem and micro-climates. You should also constantly be on the lookout for ways to stack functions, like catching rainwater to water your garden or capturing heat energy from a big pile of hot compost to heat your greenhouse or your home. The possibilities are endless! That's what makes it so fun. It's all about YOUR design and YOUR ideas with YOUR own personal spin on it. It really doesn't matter what anyone else is doing. Sure, you can get some good ideas from YouTube or blogs but the only thing you should really be following is Mother Nature. She has been at this far longer than we have. Trust me, she knows all the tricks. So don't be afraid to lean on her for support when you need it. In order to gain the most valuable insights, all you have to do is observe nature, in all its splendor, and before long you'll start seeing ways to mimic those exact processes on your homestead.


A basic Hugelkultur mound, which aims to imitate the processes of nature.
So when you think about "closed loop permaculture systems", simplify it and think about what nature does then copy that model and add a twist. Once your system is in place, it's easy to swap out one plant for another, as long as they are serving the same purpose in the forest layers (ground cover, shrub, canopy, etc).


It's very important to think about all this stuff when designing your permaculture fruit tree orchard or garden.


Your plan can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be!
That said, I would like to invite you to join me for our adventure in getting those last few fruit trees in the ground for Fall 2018. It has been a wild ride so far but also so very gratifying and just plain old fun.

Please know that these are all things that ANYONE can do. It doesn't matter if you live in the country or in the city or even in an apartment building. Everyone has window sills and everyone can use pots to grow plants and trees no matter how small the space. Look up urban permaculture examples out there and prepare to be amazed. You won't believe what some people have done with tiny spaces.

So come along with me for the ride and let's get dirty! :)


And don't forget to dream BIG and dream often, my friends!



Best of luck in all your projects! If you have any questions or comments, please let us know!


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