100 Days of Useful Homesteading Skills: Day 39 – How to Plant a Tree

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apple-tree-nature-branch-blossom-plant-666692-pxhere.comI’m told that there is a Chinese Proverb that goes, “the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second best time is now.” I believe whoever came up with that had it right. Mature trees have a lot going for them but you can’t get mature trees without someone planting them. That’s why it should be one of the first things you do on your homestead.

The years will roll by faster than you realize and before you know it, you could be harvesting fruit from the trees you should have planted when you first moved in. Make sure that fruit and nut trees are in your plan before you ever look at a property. If you have property now, start thinking about what you will be planting this season.

In 3-5 years your trees will be throwing so much fruit and nuts at you that you will barely be able to keep up. In 10 years, you will be actually giving it away or feeding it to your animals just to keep up with production because you’ve already canned, frozen, and dried more than your family will eat.

If you propagated your tree by cutting or seed, bravo! If you purchased it that’s just fine too. Either way works, as long as you are happy with the result.

Planting a tree is actually very easy. It’s keeping them alive that is the difficult part.

  • First, dig a hole at least twice as wide as the root ball. Three times as wide is better. Make certain it is no deeper than the height of the root ball.
  • Place the tree in the hole. Handle the root ball very carefully to keep it intact. Damaging the roots might decrease your chances of a successful transfer.  If the root ball is burlapped, cut the twine and remove the burlap.
  • Backfill around the root ball. Lightly pack the soil around the hole. Make sure the trunk is straight and create a berm out of the excess soil to retain water.
  • Smaller trees should be staked. Drive a stake through the root ball into the ground beneath it. Tie it loosely to the tree for support.
  • Water the tree after planting and every day for several weeks after transplanting. We like to use Ollas (an unglazed pot buried in the ground near the tree) for watering. They leach water out gradually over several days or a week depending on the size and allow us to plant trees far from water sources on the property.

That’s pretty much all there is to it. Don’t use fertilizer or amendments on your new trees and don’t prune them until the following year. Keep an eye on them to ensure they are getting enough water and let them flourish.

Have you ever planted a tree? What type of tree was it?

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