Planting and Care

Table of Contents:
  1. Arrival of Trees
  2. Planting Hole Preparation for Trees
  3. Poor, Clay or Soggy Soil at Planting Site
  4. Pruning of Fruit Trees
  5. Mulching of Trees
  6. Protecting your Trees and Winter care
  7. Care of Trees during the Season
  8. Planting Preparation for Grapes

1. Arrival of Trees 

Our trees are shipped out and mailed to you in the spring. They are carefully placed in boxes when dormant with their roots packed in damp moss or wood shavings. Once your trees arrive, open the box first. Next carefully cut a slit in the plastic wrapping to allow oxygen to flow in, yet keeping the package on the plants to keep them moist until the very moment of planting. If they break dormancy during shipping your trees will still be fine. Breaking dormancy is normal once they are exposed to warmer temperatures which may occur in the shipping process. If you cannot plant right away, you can store the box of trees away up to a few weeks in a cool dark location, avoiding direct sunlight. Check regularity to ensure that the roots are still moist, if dry then add moisture if needed. But do not overwater. When ready to plant, first soak tree roots in water for 1 to 2 hours beforehand. It is best to plant as soon as possible in the ground, preferably on a cooler or cloudy day. Avoid hot, windy or sunny days as trees may get shocked. 

 

 2. Planting Hole Preparation for Trees

Select a planting site that has good drainage and is free of standing water. Remove all grass sod and weeds from location. Pile dug soil on a tarp or board, this will make it easier for placing the soil back in and not loosing too much in the grass. Remember to keep tree roots covered and moist in this process until planted in hole. Keep well covered and out of direct sun as the roots can dry out very quickly.  Dig your hole large enough to accommodate feeder roots of your tree and the bottom of the hole should be slightly deeper roots. The walls of the hole should be well fractured with the shovel to make it easier for roots to penetrate better.

Once hole is dug and ready, put back some soil into the hole and place the tree in. Add more soil while spreading roots to face outward and slightly downward. Do this until finished. Place the bottom soil in the bottom of the hole then finish up with the topsoil on top. Graft union should be typically 2-3" above finished soil line. If tree is not grafted, place around same height of the previous visible soil line. Discard the moss or wood shavings that was packed around your tree roots, do not put them in the hole. Water the tree roots well while tamping it firmly to eliminate air pockets. If your soil is well drained such as a slope you can then add a soil berm around the side of your planting hole to help capture water for better absorption. 

Check under our product item description for the "Growers Notes" column for extra information and care for certain products. 

Do not add any fresh manure or chemical fertilizer as this can burn the roots. You can add bone meal in the top half of the hole. Compost is beneficial and recommended on top of the soil of the hole. And lastly adding mulch on top of the hole will help with keeping moisture in and weeds down. 

 

3. Poor, Clay or Soggy Soil at Planting Site

Dig only a shallow hole around 6" and add some loose sandy topsoil, this will help improve drainage for the roots. Next to do is mound the soil higher than the original soil level. Gather good soil and amend it with the current one. A mound up to 6-12"size is sufficient covering around the entire planting hole. When done make sure to mulch on top of your mound to protect it from drying out to quickly.  

Do not add good soil into a hole made in clay soil. Doing this will make the soil absorb water easily and create essentially a clay pot where water will collect and drown your tree. Instead dig a more wider area no deeper than a foot deep and break up the soil the best you can. Spread roots out across in a slightly downward direction. Make sure to remove grass and weeds then add compost and mulch around area.

 

4. Pruning of Fruit Trees

It is recommended that you prune your trees once they have been planted. Most of our trees will be a single whip. Cut the tree at angle around 30-36" height mark. This will force energy into the lower buds of the tree which will develop into branches. Some of of the trees you will receive will not be high enough so this, so pruning will not need to be done until the next season. Some of your trees might have been pruned already to accommodate for shipping. 

 

5. Mulching of Trees

    

Butternut tree mulched with leaves and wood chips

Mulching of trees is very beneficial for them. It will keep the weed growth at a minimum while keeping the soil damp and the temperature stable underneath. This will also bring more nutrients to the soil as it decomposes. You can use dead leaves or wood chips. Pile them around the entire planting area around the tree. Anywhere around 5-8" is a decent thickness of your mulch. Now, the last thing you do is spread away around 3" away from your tree trunk so that no mulch is touching it as it can make the trunk rot. 

 

6. Care of Trees during the Season

Water regularly throughout the season. Your tree needs to establish well. Give your tree a good watering twice a week.

Weed regularly and remove any grass growing inside the tree ring. Weeds and grass will compete for nutrients of your tree. At best try keep away grass and weeds at least 2 -3 feet in diameter and the more space you give the better!

Pinch off any shoots growing under the graft union. This is part of the rootstock and will take energy away from the grafted tree. 

Please do not use any herbicides.

 

7. Protecting your Trees and Winter care

Watering Trees Before Winter Freeze

In late fall, once your tree is dormant and just before the ground freezes, give your tree a good watering. This is important to help protect your trees roots from frost penetration which will dry out your roots and kill your tree. This can be a major problem especially if there is no snow yet and the temperature drops. The water will freeze and thus insulate your tree roots.

Rodents and Deer

You will have to pamper and give a little extra attention to fruit and nut trees. These trees are commonly affected by rodents and bark loving animals. You will most certainly have a good chance of having all of your trees girdled by voles in a single winter. Throughout the growing season, voles will have plenty of greens to eat, however during fall/winter when food is scarce they will eat the bark of your trees. Adding a roll of hardware cloth or a tree protector around your trunk will greatly help. Same goes to say about Deer.

 

Hardware cloth used to protect a young hazelnut tree

Sunscald (Southwest Injury) 

Sun Scald also known as Southwest injury is a major threat to trees particularly during a Prairie winter. On cold winter days, the sun can heat up bark to stimulate activity. When the sun goes down, bark temperature drops rapidly, killing the active tissue. The most common method used to prevent sun scalding on the trunks of trees is to wrap the tree up to the first branch with a white tree guard protector. This guard will be effective in reflecting the heat of the sun off the tree.

 

8. Planting Preparation for Grapes

                    

 A young Somerset grape growth during it's first year

For grapes, it is recommended to choose a site that has rich or sandy loam soil. Good drainage is essential when it comes to grapes, even planting in a raised mound or berm will be beneficial. There roots are sensitive and can break off easy, carefully remove them from the paper pots they are provided in. Make sure soil is well worked so their roots can easily spread and grow in. 

Soak roots in water for one hour before planting. Dig more of a trench then a hole. Grapes have shallow roots and grow best when spread out just under the surface of the soil. After a few weeks, select the most vigorous vine and trim off the rest. Stake or trellis this vine in an upward direction. Remove any new other  growth on the vine keeping only your main vine.

Do not fertilize during the first year. As grape roots are shallow you have to take care for them not to dry out. Add mulch and compost around the planting area. Keeping moist throughly the summer.