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planting trees Right

Planting Trees Right

DorrestBuying beautiful, well-grown plants is a great way to start your future landscape and orchard. The next step to your success lies with planting your tree correctly.

Let’s start with your soil, as this is the basic foundation of your plant’s future.  Each plant likes certain soil characteristics.  It helps to have a basic understanding of what this plant would enjoy if it were growing in its native habitat, so we can duplicate these conditions in our own yards. Plants that love wet mucky soils can be planted in low lying, wet areas or the soil can be amended with organic matter and watering can be more frequent.  Plants that originate in drier climates may be accommodated by picking a higher, dryer location, planting on a mound with less organic matter in a sandy soil, or amending a clay soil with sand or coarse organic matter to loosen it up. Avoid over watering these plants to keep them happy. Soil pH is also very important to the success of your plant.  Plants that originate in acidic or low pH soils love soil with higher iron content. Plants that like alkaline or high pH soils enjoy calcium. These two elements as well as other micronutrients are absorbed more efficiently when the soil pH is in the correct range.  Put a plant in soil with the wrong characteristics and you’ll probably stunt or even kill your treasured flowers and fruits.

Fortunately you don’t have to be a Rocket Scientist or a Master Gardener to get it right. A few simple steps and you’ll have gone a long way to ensure great results.  Here we’ll focus on 7 keys to getting you success: (1) site selection, (2) soil acidity and how to adjust it, (3) soil amendments, (4) proper planting procedures, (5) staking the newly planted tree, (6)  choosing the right fertilizer, and (7) mulching. Let’s get gardening!

 

The Right spot to grow them

Just Fruits and Exotics Gardens 7Finding good places to plant fruit trees in small yards is often a challenge. Often there are existing trees, buildings and other structures that cast shadows through out the day, limiting ideal sites to plant in. Although most fruit do require good sun to fruit well, many will fruit well in light moving shade, like that is found under pine trees or tall high canopy hardwoods. Often good spots can be found on the west sides of structures and existing trees. A good rule of thumb is if you can find good thick existing grass growing in the area you have enough sun to fruit a part sun loving fruit type. To see the possibilities of part sun fruits see the chart below:

 

FRUITS THAT TOLERATE LIGHT SHADE OR ONLY AFTERNOON SUN

-Banana

-American Chestnut

-Blackberry

-Blueberry

-Boysenberry

-Citrus

-Elderberry

-Goumi

-Jujube

-Kiwi

-Loquat

-Mandarin Melonberry

-Muscadine Grape

-Olive

-Paw Paw

-Pear

-Pecan

-Persimmon

-Pineapple Guava

-Quince

-Raisin Tree

-Black Walnut

While most fruit trees like a drier soil type, there are a few that can handle and even love a wet spot. Wet spots are areas that hold water for a day or so after a rain storm. If is the case then these areas are best planted with a fruit tree that like these conditions:

 

FRUITS THAT TOLERATE WET SPOTS

-Banana

-Blackberry

-Blueberry

-Boysenberry

-Elderberry

-Loquat

-Muscadine Grape

-Paw Paw

Space Your Trees Correctly 

Local American Persimmon Tree 3Although your tree may look small when you plant it, it one day it could be a very large tree. Not planting far enough apart can lead to crowded trees  and the lack of sun will effect how well they fruit and how much pruning you have to do to keep them productive. Setting them at the right distance apart at planting will save you a lot of heartache up the road. 

 

FRUIT TREE SPACING CHART

TREES AND SHRUBS (Total amount of room to allot for a mature tree)

 

-Apple 20×20

-Banana Tall 10×10

-Chestnut 30×30 

-Black Walnut 30×30

-Chestnut 30X30

-Large Citrus Oranges, Tangerines, Grapefruit Lemons 15×15

-Small Kumquats, Limequats, Calamondin 10×10

-Elderberry 8×8

-Goumi 8×8

-Jujube 15×15

-Loquat 12×20

-Mandarin Melon Berry 20×20

-Mayhaw 15×15

-Mulberry 20×20

-Nectarine 15×15

-Olive 15×15

-Peach 20×20

-Pear 20×20

-Pecan 30×30

-Persimmon 20×20

-Pineapple Guava 10×10

-Plums 15×15

-Pomegranate 10×10

-Quince 20×20

VINES (First number spacing between plants, second number spacing between rows)

-Boysenberry 10×15

-Kiwi 15×15 ft.

-Grapes 15×15

 

HEDGE ROWED FRUIT (First number spacing between plants, second number spacing between rows)

-Apple 15X20

-Banana 5X10

-Blueberry 6X10

-Blackberry 2X10

 

-Citrus Large 15X20

-Citrus Small 10×15

-Elderberry 6X10

-Goumi 6X10

-Jujube 10X20

-Loquat 15×20

-Mulberry 15X20

-NUTS Chestnut, Pecan, Walnut20x30

-Olive 15×20

-Pineapple Guava 6X15

-Peach, Plum and Nectarine 15X20

-Pear 15X20

-Persimmon 15X20

-Pomegranate 10×15

-Quince 15X20

-Raspberry 3X10

 

Soil Acidity and How to Adjust it

Titan Blueberry in FruitGetting success with your fruit trees starts with knowing what type of soil your tree likes. Blueberries love a soil with a low pH, apple are the opposite, require a high pH. Soils vary in acidity. Technically, soil acidity is measured by pH. The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14. In terms of soils, a pH of 6.0 is neutral, a pH that lower than 6.0 is considered Acid, and pH of more than 6.0 is termed Alkaline. You may also have heard the terms Sweet for Alkaline soils and Sour for Acid soils. The growing range for most plants is 4.2 – 6.7.

The best way to determine your soil acidity is to have it tested. Here in Florida we are fortunate that the Agricultural Extension Service in each county will test soils for pH and/or major nutrients (cost is less than $15, check the phone book for contacts). For best results collect several small samples of soil from where you are planning to garden and mix them thoroughly. We highly recommend soil testing as the best way to determine what your soil needs to give you the best results. Soil should be retested every few years and pH adjusted as needed.

Based on the soil test, soil pH may need to be adjusted. Generally pH is raised using agricultural lime and lowered with sulfur or iron sulfate. The amount added depends on the amount that pH needs to be lowered or raised for the plants you wish to grow. Read and follow label directions. Sometimes aluminum sulfate is used, but we strongly recommend against it. Aluminum sulfate is toxic to blueberries and some other plants.

 

 

FRUIT TREE pH REQUIREMENT CHART

ACID SOIL PH 4.5 to 5.5

-Banana

-American Chestnut

-Black Walnut

-Blueberry

-Citrus Grafted Trifoliate

-Elderberry

-Loquat

-Pawpaw

NORMAL SOIL PH 6.0-6.5

-Banana

-American Chestnut

-Blackberry

-Boysenberry

-Citrus Grafted Trifoliate Large

-Elderberry

-Fig

-Goumi

-Jujuba

-Kiwi

-Loquat

-Mandarin Melon Berry

-Mulberry

-Mayhaw

-Muscadine Grape

-Nectarine

-Olive

-Pawpaw

-Peach

-Pear

-Pecan

-Persimmon

-Pineapple Guava

-Plum

-Pomegranate

ALKALINE SOIL PH 6.5-7.0

-Apple

-Banana

-Citrus Own Root Lemon, Orange

-Fig

-Goumi

-Jujuba

-Kiwi

-Loquat

-Mandarin Melon Berry

-Mayhaw

-Mulberry

-Muscadine Grape

-Nectarine

-Olive

-Peach

-Pear

-Persimmon

-Pineapple Guava

-Plum

-Pomegranate

-Soil Amendments

Soil AdmendmentsWe add a brief discussion of soil amendments here, because some readily available amendments may affect soil acidity. Most plants will need additions of organic matter when they are put in the ground. Organic matter increases the water holding capacity of the soil and releases nutrients as it decays. Adding organic matter is one of the best things you can do for your soil. On sandy soils, water runs right through the soil without organic matter. On clay soils, organic matter opens up the soil and increases drainage. All soils are improved by adding organic matter.

However, some types of organic matter affect soil acidity. In general, well rotted pine bark, oak leaves and peat moss are acid and so will tend to lower soil pH. Mushroom compost and most rotted animal manures will do marvelous things for a garden, but these are alkaline and will tend to raise soil pH. At the nursery we’re sometimes asked why blueberries and gardenias turn yellow and drop their leaves. After questioning, we’ve often learned that the well-intentioned gardener has added mushroom compost to these plants that require strongly acid soils. This will injure and possibly kill the plants.

So if we plant an acid lover with alkaline soil amendments, it won’t grow well, and vice versa. Choose acidic soil amendments for acid lovers and alkaline to neutral soil amendments for alkaline lovers. But, by all means, add organic matter when you plant your vegetables, fruits and flowers.

Planting Trees Right   

Planting a Tree CorrectlyDig a planting hole at least twice as big as the pot and twice as deep. In sandy soils the larger the hole, the better, we plant ours in holes 3 times the size of the pot. Enrich the planting hole with organic matter mixed with soil dug from the hole (approximately 50:50 mix). Select the organic matter based on the pH requirements of the plant. For acid lovers, DO NOT add mushroom compost to the planting hole or use it as mulch.

 Remove the plant from the pot and place in the planting hole. Loosen the root ball gently. On root-bound plants, make vertical cuts ½ inch deep into the root zone and then loosen the root ball. The plant needs to be planted at or slightly above the same level at which it grew in its pot. Build a mound of the 50/50 mix in the bottom of the hole to correct the height of the plant in the hole. Place the plant on the mound and spread the plant’s roots over the hill in their natural growth habit. Fill the planting hole with the mix of soil and organic matter, using a water hose to wash the mix into the plant’s root system; gently tamp it in.  Repeat with a new layer until the hole is filled. Water thoroughly to settle the roots and eliminate air pockets.  If desired, construct a water basin around the base of the tree approximately 36 inches in diameter. At this time in would be a good idea to mulch a 3 foot area around the plant to discourage future weeds.

Staking Young Trees

Large and tall trees require staking for the first 6 months or until the roots become established. It is best to tie padded ropes of wire from the trunk to stakes driven into the ground around the tree. This method provides the best protection from strong winds.

Choosing the Right Fertilizer

fertrell_berry_mixFertilizers come in many forms. We recommend organic slow-release fertilizers with micronutrients.  Organic fertilizers are composed of natural ingredients like dehydrated manures, crab meal and kelp meal.  These products are better solutions for feeding our plants because they are first digested by soil bacteria which your plant then eats.  This helps build healthier soils, improves root growth and feeds roots gently while also producing less soluble nitrates and other unhealthy chemicals that leach into our aquifers, streams and estuaries.  If you feel the need to give your plants a boost during the growing season with a quicker release type fertilizer, use fish emulsion or a tea made from Mushroom Compost or your own home made compost.

  We use and recommend the Fertrell and Espoma line of organic fertilizers.  When not available look for an organic mix that contains an analyst of roughly the same combination as the blends we recommend.  Make sure they contain iron, zinc, manganese, magnesium, molybdenum, copper and boron.  These minor elements are very important to plants and most soils are low in these elements.  Fertilizer labels usually have 3 numbers (e.g. 10-10-10).  The first number is the amount of Nitrogen in the mix, the second Phosphorus and the third Potassium (often abbreviated by the symbols N-P-K).  Lime lovers (plants that grow in the pH rage of approximately 5.5-7.0) require an organic fertilizer like Fertrell Super K or Espoma “Flower Tone” 3-4-5 or “Citrus Tone 5-2-6.  Acid lovers (plants that grow in the pH range of approximately 4.2-5.5) require an organic fertilizer like Fertrell Berry Mix or Espoma “Holly Tone” 4-3-4 or “Citrus Tone” 5-2-6.  Vegetable gardens and flowering perennials also like Fertrell Super N or Espoma “Flower Tone” or “Garden Tone.  Some plants like palms and bananas require special mixes.

Application rates vary according to type and age of plant, so read the instructions on the bag and fertilize accordingly. Be sure to spread the fertilizer evenly under the entire canopy of the plant avoiding the area around the stem or trunk.  Water or rake in. 

Mulching your Plants

Orchard at Just Fruits and Exotics

Late Winter Application of Organic Fertilizer Sandwich

Mulching has so many benefits.  It conserves the plant’s moisture, keeps the soil cooler and saves the water you do put on your plant.  Mulches also build the organic matter in the soil and increase the density of soil bacteria that use the fertilizer you applied.  Here again choosing the right mulch for an acid or alkaline plant is important.  Pine and hardwood barks, most leaves and pine needles are mulches that acid loving plants enjoy. Mushroom compost or rotted animal manure mixed with these acidic mulches sweetens the mix and satisfies the lime lovers. 

 

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