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  1. #1
    BeatTheSeasons is offline Seedling
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    Default Watering pipe and fruit tree planting

    Somebody just showed me a fruit tree they had planted. As well as the tree and the stake, they'd also included a wide plastic pipe. This goes down to below the roots and pokes out a few inches above ground level. The idea is that you can water the tree easily through the pipe, supplying water and/or nutrients directly to the root area, and without any evaporation.

    Has anybody tried doing this? Any thoughts on whether or not it's a good idea?

  2. #2
    VirginVegGrower's Avatar
    VirginVegGrower is offline Gardening Guru
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    Perfect timing as I have just ordered a quince for the knot garden. I will be interested to see the answers.
    Last edited by VirginVegGrower; 27-12-2011 at 04:56 PM.
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  3. #3
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    rustylady is offline Gardening Guru
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    Sounds like a great idea.

  4. #4
    FB.'s Avatar
    FB.
    FB. is offline Early Fruiter
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    Yes, the watering pipe can be useful in our region where the soil becomes baked hard in summer and therefore any attempts at watering simply result in the water running-off across the surface and not into the hard-baked ground.
    But don't use the watering pipe for too many years, since the tree will become addicted to water supplied down the pipe and will not bother to go find its own water. Tree roots tend to grow the most where water is most plentiful - and a watering pipe could result in all the roots growing in a small area if it is used for more than a couple of years. In summary: good for starting a young tree, but not a good idea to use the pipe for more than a couple of seasons except in severe drought conditions where the tree is desperate for water and the soil has baked hard.

    Certainly add a watering pipe, but I would suggest that the best method to get a baby tree moving in our dry soil would be to mulch heavily with compost/manure, plus occasional sprinklings of fish blood and bone (fertiliser to add nutrients and bulky manure/compost to retain moisture), and make sure that the tree is watered very heavily (about four builders buckets) about once every 10-14 days during summer. (note that this amount of watering is not necessary nor desirable in most parts of the UK).
    Also, if the tree is container grow, it is best to untangle the roots and spread them out in the hole. Additionally, the more compost left on the rootball, the less the roots will be inclined to grow out from their nice fertile compost ball and not want to grow into the hostile soil of our area. If the roots don't have a choice of staying in a nice fertile compost ball, they will grow better in poor soil.

    Try to dump these bucketloads of water at the edge of the root spread, to encourage roots to grow outwards and to avoid splashing too much mud and possible fungal diseases onto the young trunk. Where possible, avoid stagnant water/water butt water coming into contact with the trunk (which is full of micro-organisms including possible disease-causing fungi) - tap water would be preferred if splashing onto the trunk is difficult to avoid.

    Most tree root systems tend to spread widely in the early years and then go down deep from the spreading main roots. The idea being that the spreading roots intercept surface rainfall dripping off the canopy ("the drip line"), but then as the rainfall drains though the soil and as the soil dries, the roots "chase" the water downwards.

    This rootstock picture sketch, which I've posted before, vaguely shows the horizontal-then-vertical structure which roots tend to form:

    Last edited by FB.; 27-12-2011 at 08:04 PM.

  5. #5
    VirginVegGrower's Avatar
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    Most enlightening FB thank you. I will follow these guidelines for my newly planted fruit orchard. Would these apply to quince and medlar too?
    Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better...Albert Einstein

    Blog - @Twotheridge: For The Record - Sowing and Growing with a Virgin Veg Grower: Spring Has Now Sprung...Boing! http://vvgsowingandgrowing2012.blogs....html?spref=tw

  6. #6
    FB.'s Avatar
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    VVG

    The best treatment takes into account the quality and depth of the soil. Fruit trees ideally prefer about 900cm per year of rainfall and moisture-retentive but not waterlogging soil with a depth of 2-3ft before the subsoil. Here, we get 500mm or rain per year and many of us have fast-draining topsoil about 1ft.
    Met Office: UK mapped climate averages
    (use the various menu's to select what you want).

    If your soil is good (and since Derbyshire receives ideal rainfall) you may not need to work so hard to establish young trees. The number one factor for a happy fruit tree is water (since it makes up over 80% of the plant's mass).
    In fact, too much nitrogen-rich fertiliser in higher-rainfall areas can increase the susceptibility to canker infection. Excessive water - especially waterlogging - can cause the roots to rot and die (also known as "phytophthora crown rot" - which MM106 is very prone to).

    Here, in Cambridgeshire, the rainfall is very low, and the soil often poor/shallow and quick-drying.
    We have considerable amounts of chalk subsoil in our area and this is literally poison for fruit trees and makes even the most vigorous rootstocks grow as slowly as a dwarf would grow on average soil. Here, it is no problem to grow MM111 or M25 as a cordon or espalier. In fact, MM111 or M25 may be the only apple rootstocks capable of even surviving in some gardens in this area.
    This generally means that it is much harder work to establish young trees - and often it is advisable for us here to opt for a much stronger rootstock than would normally be recommended.

    .
    Last edited by FB.; 27-12-2011 at 09:39 PM.

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