Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Planting trees and berries

If you're looking to grow fruit trees in western washington, I found this reference very handy.  WSU has done more than a decade of research on what grows well in our area, and gives you all of the information that you need to pick the trees that have the best shot at doing well for you.  

What I'm doing here is for personal use mostly - it's a lot of trees, but I'll keep them small - 7 to 8' tall so that they can be handled from the ground and the fruit easily picked, and I'll fence around the orchard to keep out the walking critters - cows love the new leaves on fruit trees, and they like scratching on the posts, so it's a disaster if they get into the orchard.  

The overall idea is to have some fruit available the whole summer and into the fall; a few trees ripening every week, and every two weeks or so a new blueberry variety ripening.  This is opposite the goal of a commercial planting where you'd like everything to get ripe about the same time.  

The plantings are also being done down the road to shield the house from the road a little, so I'm planning on these trees becoming a hedge of sorts when they're mature.  So I've staggered the two rows of trees so that the second row is centered between the first row to provide the most visual blockage.

New orchard tilled and prepped
I laid out the new orchard over the last few days; plowed and leveled and then did some fertilizing with manure and compost.   It looks great in this photo, but this was before the rain.  

Did i mention the rain?  I've gotten 4 inches of rain in the last 10 days, and it's pouring down right now.  No need to water those new plantings; mother nature is taking care of it for me :)
Baling twine is my go-to tool for this sort of work.  I'd like the plant spacing to be accurate, and I'd like straight lines as much as possible so I can move equipment  up and down the rows if I need to without hitting the plants, and baling twine is a cheap way to do that.  For plant spacing I'll just tie a loop at every space that I want a plant at, and then re-use the same length of twine for each row.  Makes it a little easier to do a neat and professional job. 
You can see the raindrops hitting the puddles. 
The wet conditions actually were nice for the plants.  The majority of the plantings I'm doing right now are bare-root, and having them be wet the whole time is good to keep them in condition.  I've found that with bare-root plantings it's best to get them into the ground as quickly as possible, so I laid out the orchard and prepped the ground before I purchased the plants.   

I planted the following:

10 sweetheart cherry
5 hardired nectarine
2 shiro plum
2 lapin cherry
3 Italian plum
4 bing cherry
4 vandalay cherry
4 puget gold apricot

I also established a blueberry patch; 10 plants each of 

For the trees I dug a hole 3' square, and then did 50/50 compost and soil into the hole, added some fertilizer (10-10-10) and then mulched on top with wood chips, sawdust and/or straw (depending on where I was scraping the barns) to a depth of 2-3".  Each tree is staked, and the trunk is tied to the 2" post, and then the trees were all pruned for shape and size.  

For the bluberries I dug a trench for each variety, mixed in sawdust and compost, and then planted the blueberries.  I'll mulch them as I did with the trees.  Mulching is a lot less labor than weeding later.  


jewlz said...

Nice tip on using the twine for spacing. Thanks.

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