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Planting trees or bushes in the ground (particulaly fruit)


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  • Planting trees or bushes in the ground (particulaly fruit)

    Planting trees or bushes in the ground is best done with a bit of thought, as the plants involved can easily live for 50 years or more.

    Warning some of this may not apply if you garden on very heavy clay soil.

    a) dig a big hole (square sided for preference) - remember the roots of what you are growing will end up roughly the same size as the top - break up the soil at the bottom of the hole with a fork
    b) if your ground is inclined to be waterlogged put a mix of gravel and soil in the bottom, otherwise use soil and something which helps retain water - torn up newspaper and cardboard if you can't get anything better.
    c) shovel some topsoil back in the hole to aim for the plant being at the same level in the hole as it was when previously growing (use a stick across the top of the hole and a tape measure if you are of a precise turn of mind)
    d) put in a 45 angle stake if you need one, to come part way up your new addition
    e) put in the plant and turn it so that it faces the best direction for you
    f) use a temporary support like a cane to keep it upright if working alone.
    g) put in some fine soil around the roots - use your fingers to get it in so that you minimize any air pockets.
    h) shovel on some more soil
    i) ram the soil down HARD - a narrow ended implement is best for this like a somewhat sharpened fence pole - you can get more pressure with something with a small x-section - repeat h and i as necessary
    j) if you garden in a dry area sink an empty pot in the soil to leave something to water in to in the Summer
    k) fill the hole to slightly above level, but be careful not to cover a grafted tree above the graft line
    l) water around the roots (this is not for giving the tree a drink, but to wash fine particles of soil in so that they make good contact with the roots)
    m) if you are tying your tree to a support use something soft like a strip of twisted material and make it in to a figure of 8, one loop round the trunk one round the stake, with a twist between them.

    A couple of warnings to finish with. Don't do any of this digging or planting if the ground is frosted. If you bought your plant from a supermarket odds on it is dehydrated (judge by how the compost feels) - in these cases I will pot up the plant in damp compost for a few weeks and keep it in the cold greenhouse to see how it is doing - these plants are horticultural invalids and need "hospital care" for a while.

    Trees live a long time - it's worth giving them a good start - happy gardening.

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