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Keep the fine roots when planting fruit trees

Planting fruit trees involves more than just placing the tree in a planting hole. The growth rate and fruit yield of the trees depends to a great extent on the right variety and method of planting the tree: the decisive factor here is the deep loosening of the earth. Only then can the tree roots penetrate sufficiently deep into the soil. If, on the other hand, a fruit tree is planted in compact soil, it reacts with stunted growth and premature ageing, both of which you can no longer correct by cutting later!

Whether a fruit tree with a plant container or a bare-rooted tree: first dig a planting hole which is at least twice as deep and wide as the root volume. Then loosen the depth of the soil as much as possible and thoroughly remove any soil compaction. First ram the tree post into the planting hole so that it stands firm and gives the newly planted tree a firm hold. The tree pole should stand so that the wind coming from the main wind direction presses the tree against the post, not in the opposite direction!

In the case of bare-rooted trees, freshly cut the thicker roots with a sharp knife to remove frayed ends – when freshly cut, new, fine roots grow more easily from this wound. The cut surfaces thus produced should pint downwards on the root. When removing damaged parts of roots, keep most of the fine roots as these are important. In the case of fruit trees with container root balls, correct any twisted growth of the roots by cutting these roots off at a certain point.

Now place the tree in the hole and against the post, so that it stands close to the post. The grafting point of the tree (the thickening of the trunk approximately a hand’s width above the roots) should be approximately ten centimetres above the ground when the planting hole has been filled in with earth. This grafting point must never get into the soil later either, as otherwise the tree reacts with excessive growth and a reduced yield.

Fill the earth up, tread it down slightly and elutriate it by adding water (approx. 10 to 20 litres) to the roots. In so doing, continually correct the planting depth. Do not add peat or mineral fertiliser to the roots when planting. At best, add a third of compost earth and a handful of agricultural lime to the earth (except with quinces, see below).

Tie the tree to the tree post with coconut string or a tree tie. If you use coconut string (normally cheaper), the knot should resemble a figure of 8 when viewed from above. To prevent constriction by the coconut string or tree ties during the increase in thickness of the tree which occurs later (there is a risk of the tree breaking off later as a result!), loosen the string or the tree tie in time following growth. As a rule, this is necessary from the beginning of July and into August.

Tip: If your garden is in danger of damage by voles, surround the tree roots before planting with a tightly closing basket made of rabbit cage wire to keep the rodents away from the coveted roots.