Once you have chosen your planting position, dig a square hole approx. 1 ½ times the diameter and approx. 50mm deeper than the plant container. Do not place any fertiliser, grass clippings, sawdust, ash or manure in the hole or mix it with the soil you are going to use to back fill the hole with as this can damaged the young tree roots as they start to grow. The addition of some well - rotted compost to the soil that you plan to use as backfill around your tree can be beneficial however, it should be mixed thoroughly with the soil prior to use. Gently remove your tree from its container and inspect its root system. A healthy tree can usually be planted out without the need to disturb its root system however, if the tree has become root bound in the container, some light root pruning may be necessary prior to planting. If pruning is required, carefully loosen and tease out the trees roots. Trim off any damaged roots where necessary. Place sufficient soil in the bottom of the hole so that when your tree’s root ball is placed in the hole, the soil level of the root ball is equal to or just slightly above that of the surrounding ground level (this is to allow for the settling of the soil under the tree root ball). Gently back fill around the tree, taking care not to leave large air pockets around the tree’s root ball and then water it in well. The addition of eco-cweed to the water will assist in minimising transplant shock and promote new root growth on the tree.
Staking the Tree.
Young trees may also need some additional support to help keep them upright after they have been planted out. A single bamboo or wooden stake can be used to provide a quick and easy means of support for your tree however; if a young tree is supported too securely it can become over dependent on the stake’s support and will not develop sufficient strength in its own trunk to keep itself upright when the stake is removed/breaks at a later date. The best means that we have found to support a tree without totally restricting its movement is to use three stakes angled slightly outwards and equally spaced around the tree about 300-600 mm out from the trunk. A length of a soft material such as pantyhose or hessian binding is then tied to each stake. Taking each length in turn, loop the material around the tree’s trunk and tie it off on the adjacent clockwise stake. The resultant web provides good support for the young tree without totally restricting its movements. This small amount of movement stimulates the tree’s growth pattern in such a way that it develops sufficient strength to support itself in the future quiet quickly. All ties that are used to support trees should be checked regularly to ensure that they are not rubbing and or constricting (cutting into) the stem of the tree. Constriction of the stem can happen very quickly in fast growing trees and should be avoided as it will weaken the tree’s stem and in severe cases can lead to the premature death of a tree.
Many fruit trees are surface feeding plants and perform best when a generous layer of mulch is applied to cover their root zone. Mulch is usually applied in August and again in December but must be kept clear of the tree’s trunk to prevent collar rot. By applying mulch around your tree you are not only helping to retain moisture but you are also helping to suppress weeds that will steal vital nutriments and moisture from your tree. Mulching also insulates the plants feeder roots from the hot sun helping to maintain a constant soil surface temperature however, as with most things, too much of a good thing can have its down side. The application of a mulch layer thicker than 100mm, whilst keeping moisture in, will also prevent moisture from light rain events from reaching the soil around your tree’s root system. We therefore recommend that mulch is only applied to a maximum thickness of 100mm around the trees.
The installation of a permanent irrigation system to water your tree/s is well worth considering when you plant your tree. By installing a semi or fully automatic watering system will considerably reduce the time need to complete this essential activity. The frequency and amount of watering your trees will require is dependent on a number of factors such as rainfall, soil type, evaporation rates, plant requirements etc. and will vary from season to season and/or from site to site however, as a general rule of thumb, newly planted trees will required to be watered twice a week for the first 2-3 month in warmer weather and once a week in the cooler months. Once established, trees planted in the ground normally only require one good deep watering a week. In hot conditions your plants will use more water and may need to be watered more often.
Potted trees require much more frequent watering than trees planted in the ground. During the warmer months, most potted trees need to be watered daily and in extremely hot weather may even need to be watered twice a day. Conversely, during the cooler months the frequency of watering will cut back as your tree’s water requirements reduce and during the middle of winter, your plants may only need to be watered once or twice a week. The best way to tell if your potted fruit tree needs to be watered is to check how moist the potting mix is by pushing your finger into the potting mix and testing how wet it is. If the mix feels cool and moist, your plant does not need to be watered so wait a day or so and then recheck the mix. If the mix feels dry and hot, the mix has dried out and your plant needs to be watered. Potting mixers can only take up moisture at a relatively slow rate therefore, applying water via a gentle spray is far more effective at rewetting the mix than pouring large volumes of water on the top of the pot and having it drain through the mix in a rush.
Thinning of Fruit.
It is recommended that all fruit should be removed from your fruit trees for the first year after planting out into the ground. This permits the tree to concentrate on producing a good root system for itself without the additional stress from fruit production. Older trees may also benefit from the removal of some of their fruit load if excessive fruit set has taken place. This practise is regularly carried out by commercial growers to promote the production of larger fuller fruit.