~For those of us that love to garden – nothing can beat the quick return of years and years of bountiful fruit harvests that can be provided from a single planting of a few fruit trees to your yard or landscape. There is something that is so satisfying about planting fruit trees – somehow signifying that you are putting down roots of a more permanent nature. Fruit trees can be a valuable addition to any landscape and with their spring blooms quite often puts on a BIG SHOW! Once planted, fruit trees require much less maintenance than a vegetable garden.
~Although you can plant fruit trees into your landscape at any point of the growing season – Fall is really the best time to plant. The fruit tree growers release their crop to retailers in the Fall of the year, which also gives you the best selection. The advantages to planting your trees in the Fall are many. For one, the cooler temperatures are much less stressful on the trees and require far less watering than planting trees in the spring and taking them through the hot summer months. Fall planting allows just enough time for the roots of a tree to become established – getting them accustomed to the soil and preparing them for fast growth the following spring.
Choosing Your Trees:
~Whether you would like to grow your own peach, pear, or apple trees – take care when you select your fruit trees. Make sure you select varieties for our area. We carry only LSU Recommended varieties. In addition, many fruit trees are self-pollinating, but some do require pollination from another, and all fruits will have a heavier yield when more than one tree is present.
Planting a fruit tree is actually a very simple to do!
~As with your garden – mixing in compost in your planting hole is a great way to get your trees off to a good start! Dig your planting hole about two to three times the diameter – and about 1 1/2 times the depth of the container that your tree came in. Once your hole is dug – mix back in equal amounts of compost and soil to the bottom of the hole, filling it up enough so that the top of the tree's root ball sits about and inch or so above the top of the hole. At this point, water the root ball generously, and then fill in around the rest of the hole with equal amounts of compost and soil. When your tree is completely planted – you want the graft of the tree to be at least 2" above ground level. Never bury the graft. Apply a 2 to 3″ layer of mulch (shredded hardwood mulch, straw, or shredded leaves work well) to help the tree retain moisture and protect the root ball from drought and weeds. That's it!
~You will want to water your trees for the remainder of fall – a slow soak for a couple of hours once or twice a week, depending on the temperatures, is the best practice when mother nature doesn't provide her own. If your tree is large enough – you may also want to stake it to provide protection from winter winds.
As for spacing – on average most dwarf trees should be planted about 8 to 10 feet apart – and at least 12 feet between rows. For semi-dwarfs 10 to 12 feet apart and 14 to 16 feet between rows, and for full size trees spacing them 20 feet to an acre apart.
With a little work this fall – you can be enjoying your favorite fruits for years to come! HAPPY GARDENING!!