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A Minimum Intervention Approach To Planting Apples & Pears

We advocate a minimum intervention approach when it comes to planting and growing apple and pear trees. This approach ensures the least possible disturbance of the land and the trees.


Plant bare root one or two year old fruit trees

Forestry notch planting system

Plant trees without stakes

Protect young trees

Mulching and feeding fruit trees

 

 

Plant bare root one or two year old fruit trees

There is no point in planting larger, more mature trees. Transplant shock and disruption to the natural soil flora and fauna caused by excavating the large holes necessary to accommodate such trees will negate any advantage in terms of immediate size. Larger, cosmetically appealing “instant” trees are quickly overtaken in size and vigour by small one or two year old trees planted at the same time.

 

Forestry notch planting system

Forestry notch planting for fruit trees is essentially cutting a two slits with a spade to form a “T” shape in the turf. Prise up and fold back the two flaps of turf made by the “T” cut, and plant the tree in the hole thus created. Fold the sod back into place and firm in by treading it down. Planting in this way gives a firm footing, avoids disrupting thousands of years of soil structure and the associated life forms which are essential for your trees' health. It avoids creating the back filled stagnant ponds that excavated tree pits can become, and takes a lot less time and effort than digging big holes.

 

Plant trees without stakes

On strong rootstocks, staking is unnecessary and causes weak root growth. Badly placed stakes and ties are a major cause of damage to young trees, often causing lesions that admit diseases such as canker.

 

Protect young trees

Tree guards, preferably perforated to allow free circulation of air, should be in place by the end of the days' planting to protect against rabbit damage- if you have to contend with sheep, cattle or deer you will need more substantial guards.

 

Mulching and feeding fruit trees

Heavy feeding of newly planted trees is not recommended- a mulch or some kind of mulch mat to keep back the growth of competing grass and weeds around the base of your trees for their first few years of life will give them the best start. A sparing top dressing of nutrients such as compost or an organic fertilizer in year two should be sufficient- over feeding will promote weak sappy growth.

 

There are more detailed illustrated instructions on these and other aspects of orchard growing in our book “How to grow Apples and Make Cider.”

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