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This topic contains 11 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by  Regina from Virginia 5 years, 5 months ago.

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    Hey, everyone!

    I’m very excited to be taking the course!

    I am only 6 lectures into the Design Fundamentals, but I have a planting situation that needs to be figured out before I’ll be able to finsh the class, so I could use some advice.

    I ordered several bare root dwarf/fruit trees over the summer and they have now arrived. I need to plant them, but haven’t finished the course so of course I don’t know best practices for where to put them. I live in Zone 7, in Southern Virginia. I have 2 dwarf cherry trees (different varieties), a dwarf Fuji apple tree, and 2 Paw Paws (different varieties).

    We live in town but have almost an acre of property. We recently cleared out our perimeter (and tilled the soil! I now know that’s usually a no-no but it was overgrown with Poke Weed, boxwood stumps, bramble, and trash). Over the summer, we maintained a vegetable garden in raised beds and planted a load of blueberry trees, 3 strawberry varieties, a fig tree, herbs, and a lot of potted flowers.

    Any advice for, I guess, “triage-planting” of these trees would be appreciated. I don’t think I can finish the course quickly enough to know or figure out how to plant them optimally, so I need advice.

    I have some sense of the light on the property, and I know the compass points for our yard’s orientation.

    I guess I’m saying I’d like to minimize planters regret. =]



    Why don’t you plant them in pots to begin with. There are books on the subject, but you could probably get all the info you need on the internet.



    You could also “heel” them in for a bit. Put them (the roots)in some lose mulchy soil or sand and even cover that with strew if you’re getting really cold days and keep it moist. That should be ok for up to a week or longer. Also, check on the internet. Good luck.


    OMG Ben, SO excited to see you are a remember of this group. I now live in Brownsburg, Virginia, just north of Lexington, about 25 min south of Staunton on I-81 and moved only in September. We are undoubtedly close on the map, in the same zone, etc. I have a vision of becoming a permaculture focused orchardist (is that a word) on a fairly small plot of land. I brought with me a few fruit trees, berry bushes, etc, to get me started. Currently I have four apple trees, three peach trees, one european pear and five asian pear trees, five blueberry bushes, prob 2 or 3 raspberry, a couple blackberry, two currants, five gooseberries, three grapes, three hardy kiwis, and a partridge in a pear tree (HA) My plants started in October, some in November just shipped, two planted in recently. I heeled in some items, but tried to get them in the ground quickly. I got some blueberry bushes for Christmas (local) and went ahead and got them in the ground, although their owner advised pots. My landlord would have a stroke if she read what I have planted. I have a lease to own and praying I can carry it through. Hoping to share notes when we can, maybe even a visit. Regina



    So nice find people with the same interest in close proximity. Just purchase a land near Covington area. I’m wanting to do same. Hoping to share ideas in the future. Thanks




    Ben, hope you got those planted by now. The standard practice is to let the bare roots soak for a little while in water and then plant them. But you need to pile the soil tightly around the roots. A nice way to do this is when you dig your hole, make a mound of soil in the center for the base of the plant to sit on. Then fill in the hold and pack the soil tightly around the rest of the roots. Water them in a lot!

    And doing this first in pots and putting them in your zone 1 to keep a careful eye wouldn’t be a bad idea. Let them get established. You can transplant them later.


    Interestingly, I have a fellow coworker who swears by fruit in pots. He had a great blueberry yield this past year and he thinks its because he had greater control over the environment. I used to think that I knew a fair amount about plants. Now that Im into my 8th lecture, Im finding out I didnt know so much after all. My idea of a neat grassy linear orchard has been turned upside-down. At the same time, there are southwest virginia orchards all around me and they seem to be doing just fine with their old methods. Im still learning and listening. Good to hear from neighbors : )



    Regina, the blueberries in pots is not a bad idea! I have some pretty pathetic blueberry specimens in my yard and I’m coming to realize it will be hard to make a microclimate that is conducive to them here–but in pots–you could even use a pot with relatively low drainage and–obviously put whatever kind of soil and water you want. . .hm. . .



    the course will not provide the type of details you are seeking for planting dwarf fruit trees. best to check with your local family owned garden center.



    Hi Ben. I live in Iowa, and have 15 fruit trees in my yard. (Smallish plot size). Personally, I prefer to plant my trees and be done. Digging them up again is hard work. I’d suggest you look at the expected mature size, or the spread of the branches, and then ask yourself if you are going to be a regular pruner, or if you are more of the wild form type. I have a small plot and lots of trees- I prune. Pruning works well for me, but you may choose to allocate your time to other garden projects instead. My rough expectation is that left un-pruned you will need 10 feet on either side of your apple and cherry trees. Allow more like 15-17 for the paw-paws. The apple and cherry trees will be shorter and smaller. Fruit trees need 8 hours of good sunlight a day. And remember the adage, “plant them high so they won’t die, plant them low and they won’t grow.” Cheers, Sharon



    Sharon–does that go for dwarf trees as well? The spacing, I mean. . .


    Do you have any thoughts on the best way to plant a variety of fruit trees? I have been reading several texts in addition to the class and the idea of staggering plantings has been proposed. For example, rather than planting ten apple trees in a row, then peach, then pear, I have seen it suggested that they should alternate apple, peach, pear, repeat. One reason is that pests that would attack apple trees would have a more difficult time establishing on apple trees when they are not next to each other. I think permaculture would suggest planting a variety of companion plants in between like blueberries, comfrey, etc. Ive also seen suggestions of three or four like trees in one area, which is sort of the opposite of alternating trees. Wondering what experiences others have had. Finally, I have seen a suggestion to plan trees in rows based on their harvest time, early midseson late, regardless of the fruit type. Appreciate your thoughts. I am in zone 7B. Thanks

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