The Resilience Hub & Portland Maine Permaculture Message Board › tips and ideas on planting fruit trees

tips and ideas on planting fruit trees

alder
user 6954726
Sullivan, ME
Post #: 3
hello! i'm a virgin tree planter here with some questions on materials...

in an attempt to get a forest garden going, i hastily ordered some fruit trees back in feb from FEDCO (plums, peach, a pear that i'm getting from a friend). well, the pickup weekend is fast approaching and i am still not sure of my placement for these trees. unfortunately, since it was a spur of the moment thing and our snow cover only recently melted, i don't have any areas pre-prepped for them to go into. from what i've gathered, it's not a good idea to add fertilizer or anything too rich to a fruit tree hole upon planting.... fertilizing is typically done a few weeks later once the trees are a bit established. instead it's recommended that the hole be filled in w/ native soil. anyone got thoughts on this, or other methods? agree/disagree?

SO, with the above in mind, i'm concerned about what the heck i'm going to fill these holes in. we live at an old granite quarry, my garden is pretty much on an old stone dump where riprap and chunks of stone, large and small, were tossed about. long story short, VERY little soil here.... when i get these holes dug i'm going to be removing lots of rock and hardly any soil.

so what do folks recommend i fill in with (besides the little native soil i will have)? i am thinking perhaps a mix of 50:50 peat and compost? would it be wise to toss some lime in with that since the peat is acidic and i've already got pretty acid soil? another option i'm considering it bucketing out some of the rich muck from the quarry..... could that be too rich to plant into? maybe mix that half:half with peat? other ideas?

thanks for your thoughts!
katie/alder
zengeos
zengeos
Gorham, ME
Post #: 99
Alder, Any chance you can build up things some also? I'll likely follow FEDco's suggestions to some degree, but also incorporate the various ideas outlined here:

agroforestry net

Too bad you aren't closer, and I don 't have a good truck. I could really use a few tons of your rocks for my spiral gardens!!!
Dick H.
user 6105531
Portland, ME
Post #: 4
Alder,
If you can afford it, get a bag of FEDCO tree planting mix for each tree. I've had real good luck with it. Put cardboard down around each tree with seaweed on top of the cardboard.
Peace,
Dick
alder
user 6954726
Sullivan, ME
Post #: 4
thanks for your thoughts.... i could start mulching the areas where the trees will go, but i doubt it will do much good (pickup is in 2weeks) and then it'll just be more work to move the mulch, dig the holes, and replace the mulch.

still wondering what to fill the holes with.... i also realized i have 1 year old humanure, and partially broken down leaves. perhaps i could incorporate both of those with some compost and whatever native soil i glean.

dick, i can't quite shell out for a bag of tree mix/hole, but i do have most of the ingredients that that mix is composed of. i guess i'll make up something along those lines (not sure of the ratios).

and i will definitely be mulching with seaweed!! both under and over the cardboard. seaweed is my mainstay source for creating soil around here. :)

any other ideas are welcome! thanks, alder/katie
David S.
stereoview
Washington, ME
Post #: 130
Mixing in peat and compost should be OK. If there is any subsoil you can mix a little of that in. There is more nutrition in subsoil than most people think. Fine particles from top soil leech down into it. It is often more calcareous than topsoil and so may moderate your ph. Topsoil is usually quite acid and may not hold on to your roots as well as you would want in challenging situations like high winds.

My peach trees are doing excellent in fairly dense soil that is a mix of top soil, sub soil and clay that was created when they excavated for my foundation. I did mix in some peat and composted manure but not a lot and it is likely incorporated by now

If it is sunny enough you will probably be fine.
alder
user 6954726
Sullivan, ME
Post #: 7
hi david, thanks for your reply. this is encouraging.... i will probably end up making a mix of peat, compost, any available native soil, plus some soil scraped from the tops of a few garden beds. you're right that we tend to forget how nutrient-rich subsoil is/can be... i know i am always second-guessing the fertility of what looks to be "poor" soil and am later surprised at how well plants end up doing there.
Aaron P.
user 6845673
Falmouth, ME
Post #: 17
Woody plants need very little in the way of nitrogen, in fact to much is bad for them, so go easy on the manure. What is nice to put into those holes are minerals, like the fedco bags, or azomite or if you don't have the budget for those some gypsum might be good to add some calcium (many fruit trees have a high need of calcium). The reason for not adding much nitrogen is it will stimulate vegetative growth and if that doesn't wind down and stop in time for winter it can cause "winter kill".
zengeos
zengeos
Gorham, ME
Post #: 110
So would you NOT recommend amending with the surf n turf compost then?

I had planned on digging the hole as per FEDco recommendations, then mixing about 1/3 compost with soil to boost organic materials, then top dress along the drip line with compost again, with leaves/ leaf mold over top to help retain moisture Then I was planning on planting some Bocking 14 comfrey..2 or 3 around each tree, as well as some onions and garlic and later adding climbing beans to grow up the trees.

What else makes good companions for fruit trees?

I'm trying to develop a nice little guild for the trees and then transition from that to the veggie garden plots, using the trees as anchors of sorts, with the fruiting shrubs interspersed in the garden to add visual interest and berries, of course.
Aaron P.
user 6845673
Falmouth, ME
Post #: 18
So would you NOT recommend amending with the surf n turf compost then?

I had planned on digging the hole as per FEDco recommendations, then mixing about 1/3 compost with soil to boost organic materials, then top dress along the drip line with compost again, with leaves/ leaf mold over top to help retain moisture Then I was planning on planting some Bocking 14 comfrey..2 or 3 around each tree, as well as some onions and garlic and later adding climbing beans to grow up the trees.

What else makes good companions for fruit trees?

I'm trying to develop a nice little guild for the trees and then transition from that to the veggie garden plots, using the trees as anchors of sorts, with the fruiting shrubs interspersed in the garden to add visual interest and berries, of course.

That sounds like a great idea, except i wouldn't mix in the compost in your hole, just loosen the soil and add any mineral amendments you might be using and a spadeful of forest soil for beneficial organisms (especially fungi). That compost could be added to your top dressing, where the excess nitrogen will get tied up in the breakdown of leaves and other lingen cellulose material. If you have Sugar maple, flowering dogwood or shagbark hickory in your yard these leaves are probably the best for your top dressing as they (according to Dave Jacke) are accumulators of calcium.
zengeos
zengeos
Gorham, ME
Post #: 111
So I guess I will rake up some leaves from under the sugar maple along the stone wall in the back acre, then, as that area is where I plan to get a lot of my leaves and leaf mold. I can get a few pine needles from way out back for those plants preferring a little more acid, I think, and pine needle mulch as well.

Today, though, I have rhubarb to plant...about a dozen or so roots. Should I dig into the soil at all for that or should I just put a mound of compost down and plant into the compost, then cover with newspaper and leaves?
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