Master Gardener Kristine Hanson shows you how to plant and care for your fruit trees.
Tags:How to Plant Fruit Trees,fruit trees,fruit trees care,fruit trees maintenance,fruit trees water requirement,gardening advice,gardening tips,kvie,planting fruit trees
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Chris Burrous: Everyone’s a farmer when it comes to their own backyard. Try these tips for doing it Home Grown.
Kristine Hanson: Fruit trees should be a mainstay in everybody’s backyard. There are those beautiful spring blossoms, these vibrant fall colors and in addition, this, the tasty rewards of fruit.
Californians are so lucky. There are so many different fruit trees that you can pick and choose from and plant in your own backyard. So, where do we start?
Well, water is very important for healthy looking plants and trees, so you might first of all consider more drought resistant varieties like figs, pomegranates or even persimmons. But you don’t want to limit yourself to just these trees. There are new methods that minimize water use for trees like apricots, pears and even apples.
Ed Laivo is with me from Dave Wilson Nursery and one of the biggest indicators of how much water your tree is going to need is your soil. That’s what you’re doing is digging this out.
Ed Laivo: Got to figure out how well it’s going to drain to determine whether or not the tree is going to live. What we want to do is we want to create a hole about a foot across a foot, about a foot deep. We want to fill it with water one time. We want to let that drain and then we want to fill it with water again. If it takes longer than four hours for that second draining, you’ve got a drainage problem and more than likely, you should be considering possibly mounding the trees.
Kristine Hanson: Then you have to look at the different types of trees and the rootstock that comes with it. You’ve brought a couple of examples here.
Ed Laivo: If I’ve got poor draining soil, I’m going to want to elevate the tree but I’m also going to want for the sake of drought tolerance, I like more aggressive roots. I like roots that get down into the ground fast and get established quickly. That’s mostly standard rootstock.
Kristine Hanson: Yeah, it’s a very deep taproot.
Ed Laivo: Very deep taproot. Here’s a typical semi-dwarf root which a lot of surface roots, a little weaker grower but that’s very typical of semi-dwarf. I want something that’s going to get down deep where the water’s going to be and that’s going to make this plant much, much more able to tolerate those dry conditions or this might also be good for wet locations but not wet during the winter time, just say a lawn situation that drains well but you know it doesn’t have standing water. Then this would be a good choice.
Kristine Hanson: The rootstock that we just talked about doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to be able to tell the difference and size of the tree. You make the difference by pruning and in turn, that all helps with how much water you use.
Ed Laivo: Absolutely and in this case right here, we have a tree that’s nice, low and manageable.
Kristine Hanson: Can pick anything.
Ed Laivo: Right and if we’re going to do something like this, we’re going to take standard rootstocks to begin with, we’re going to want to have management and size control a primary goal right from the time we plant it, right from the beginning.
Kristine Hanson: All right, one additional thing that we’ve done here is we’ve planted three trees together because we’ve only had to test one soil location and we’re watering one location, so we’ve got this figured out in the first season.
Ed Laivo: Yeah. We got a pollinator here, so if your variety needs a pollinator, the pollinator is nice and close by. We don’t need large quantities of fruits, so we’re going to have seasonal success of ripening off of this and at the same time, we are going to know our watering needs very, very well, so we know how much water this tree needs just to stay healthy in the next few years.
Kristine Hanson: And then we’re going to go underneath the tree because it needs one more thing. We’re talking about mulch and it can be a number of different things. It can be straw. It can be bark mulch. The important thing to minimize water usage is to make sure it’s deep enough to prevent evaporation of the water from underneath the plant.
Ed Laivo: Absolutely, Kristine. Four inches is probably about where you want to be. You want to be generous with the mulch, come out at least three feet from the trunk. As the tree gets bigger, you’re going to also want to increase the parameter of your mulch.
Kristine Hanson: So, you look at your canopy and come down and this is where you’re going to want your mulch all the way around the tree and in this case, the three trees.
Ed Laivo: Absolutely.
Kristine Hanson: We’re talking also about water; you want a really efficient drip system with some really good emitters. Good idea to test the soil just to make sure you know how much water is in the soil, moisture meters work really well. I think they’re the best thing out there for it.
Ed Laivo: As a matter of fact, I think before you water, you should always check to see if your ground really needs to be watered.
Kristine Hanson: They’re pretty accurate.
Ed Laivo: Yeah, they can tell wet or dry very well.
Kristine Hanson: So, don’t just sit around. Fruit trees can be planted all year long. What do you like to eat? We’ll find varieties that bear at different times and you’re going to enjoy bounty from your own backyard all year long.