A tall brown bag with two trees in it arrived by U.P.S. yesterday. The reason we got these trees is because of some fiddlehead ferns (Ostrich, really). The ferns were planted by a stone wall in full sun- we thought they would look pretty there! But come to find out, ferns prefer the shade of trees. They get a little sunburned in summer, but they are starting to colonize- new ferns are popping out of the ground off of runners. It does NOT make sense to move this little family because who knows how they will do in a different place.
So we got the ferns a couple of trees to provide them some shade. Now, about the trees. We like the “edible landscaping” idea, requiring the trees to be food providers (we already have a forest-ful of other kinds). So we got two hazelnut trees.
When it comes to planting trees we’ve been through the trial and error phase finding that correctly planting a tree leads to fewer losses on the one hand, and quicker success on the other. Besides which, thriving trees make us happy. And, we’re happy, too, to pass some of this info along.
So here are the step-by-steps of tree planting.
Step One: get the tools together. The tools shown here are a shovel, a four-prong cultivator, and a grubhoe. The grubhoe you may not need but in our woodlands it is the best thing for hacking through roots and nudging stones out of the ground. If you can dig a hole with nothing stopping your shovel, you are golden. In any case, assemble your tools.
Step Two: dig the hole. The hole is beyond any doubts the most important part of the entire planting process. A large enough hole will allow the new roots to get started easily. If the roots are cramped by tough soil the growth of the tree may be inhibited or may not happen altogether. Three feet wide by three feet deep is my usual standard for fruit trees, but these are nut trees and the root system is narrow, so I’ve gone slightly less on the width. Don’t scrimp on your digging. Dig a nice big hole. As you can see I’ve pulled out the usual pile of rocks.
Step Three: take a break to read and re-read the instructions that came with the tree. Different trees have different requirements. Follow them to the letter- the tree companies know what they are talking about.
Step Four: add any soil amendments that are needed for the tree to grow. You either know your soil and what grows in it, or you should (prior to getting your tree) have the soil tested so you know what to add. The soil here seems to sustain a wide range of plants, so I’m only adding dried manure. This adds humus to the soil which helps keep it loose (sand can be heavy) and provides nutrients.
Step Five: well, finally! You get to plant the tree! This is easy now that the soil is in a neat pile beside the hole, so all you need to do is scoop it around the roots using your shovel. Wait a minute! Check back with your instructions to find the correct depth to plant the tree. And first make sure that any dirt under the roots is tamped down -stomp on it. Then add dirt around the root system a little at at time, tamping as you go. Add water after every few shovelfuls of dirt, letting it soak in. The water helps settle the dirt into place.
Step Six completes the task. Make a collar of soil to act as a water dam, and then give the tree plenty of water. Pour it on. Voila! -jmm