PO Box 2458, Tijeras NM 87059

Mountain Gardens--finding success with plants for the high desert and East Mountains of New Mexico

Monday, February 13, 2012

Fruit Trees Arrive

We have been up to our earlobes in apples, pears, plums and cherries--trees, not cobbler alas. We have been waiting anxiously for days, hoping against hope that the weather would cooperate, but naturally temps plunged to 14 the day we planned to get the trees potted, and two inches of snow fell making it too cold to work. It was still below freezing today but with another storm coming, we couldn't delay--field dug bareroot trees have to be dealt with as soon as possible. So we called in Tina, and Aly took the day off, and we put on our long underwear and arctic bogs (boots), sorted out some five gallon pots, and started hauling soil.

I worked on pruning the trees, removing broken or damaged limbs, reducing the height of the trees, shaping the roots to fit into the pots. There's a lot of debate about the best way to prune fruit trees. I like a tree that's beautiful in the landscape as well as productive, so I tend to be conservative about removing wood. It's true that trees that are aggressively pruned are shorter and easier to harvest, but I don't mind dragging a ladder around--or boosting the kids.

Tina and Aly potted them in the mix we got from Soilutions--40% premium compost, 40% forest floor mulch, and 20% pumice--good drainage. Aly and Wink toted the heavy pots and arranged them in our sunken bed. 130 trees is a lot of toting and they were all pretty tired by the time we finished. Previous blogs have covered the technique we're using to warm the roots in the sunken bed--it was great to see that Wink's calculations left ample room for the 130 trees (including the 10 that went missing).
After the trees were all in place we packed compost around to help hold the heat, then gave them a good watering. By that time the sun had melted most of the snow, things were getting muddy, and the wind was coming up so we decided not to try to put the plastic over the hoops--that's next.

With luck, Mountain Gardens will have a nice mix of fruit to sell this coming season. Some antique apples like Hudson's Golden Gem and Belle de Boskoop, Arkansas Black and Honeycrisp; a 4 in 1 cherry, North Star Dwarf, and Stella; an expaliered pear; an Italian prune, Superior plum, and a green Gage-Bavay plum; three kinds of peaches.

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