Twelve Steps to Successfully Planting Fruit Trees

If you're thinking of planting fruit trees, have a look here so you'll know how to do it right.

| September/October 1980

065 planting fruit trees - heeling in

"Heel in" your new tree—if you can't plant it right away—by placing it in a 45 degree angle trough. Cover the roots with soil to prevent them from drying out.  


Following these steps when planting fruit trees and with any luck your labors will bear fruit.

1. HEELING IN: If you aren't able to plant your tree as soon as you buy or receive it, you should "heel in" the newcomer. To do so, dig a trough—at a 45° angle—that's deep enough at its lower end to completely contain the tree's roots. Put the fruit-bearer-to-be in the trench, and cover its roots with soil. (This step isn't necessary if your tree has a wrapped soil ball around its roots when purchased.) The important thing is not to let the roots dry out!

2. PREWATERING: A full day prior to planting, thoroughly soak the area where the tree's hole is to be dug.

3. DIGGING: Measure the depth and width of the root cluster, then—separating the top soil and subsoil as you go—dig a hole that exceeds (slightly) those dimensions. When the pit is dug, rough up its sides with your shovel or fork (to give the plant places to grip as it spreads underground ... if this isn't done, the new growth may simply circle in the hole causing the plant to become rootbound).

4. VERTEBRATE PEST CONTROL: If gophers, moles, or the like are a problem in your area, you can line the pit—on its sides and bottom—with a "basket" made from chicken wire.

5. PLACING THE TREE: Build a small mound of loose topsoil in the bottom of the pit, and drape the spreading root structure over the hill. Turn the tree so that the bud union (if your tree has been grafted to a different, usually dwarf, rootstock) will be facing toward your area's prevailing winds ... and—if your locale is often visited by really hearty gusts—position the trunk to lean slightly into the wind.

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