Tree Cheers for Springtime!

This past Saturday brought not only snow to the Food It Yourself house, but also my long awaited 4-variety Asian pear tree. Unfortunately, the tree was packaged with a note from the nursery stating they were unable to send me the fruit cocktail tree I ordered. I am on the waiting list for next year, though. Fortunately, Sunday was very warm and perfect for planting my pear.

Planting a tree is very simple. First, dig a hole. Next, put the tree (roots down) into the hole. Finally, fill in the hole.

Okay, maybe there are a few details to consider.

I decided that the best place for my pear tree is right next to my loam pile. (Yes, I am still using loam from the massive pile we had delivered in 2017). This location is protected from gusty winds by a fence, but is far enough from the driveway that we will not dump snow on it in the winter. The area has been covered with gravel as long as we have owned our house, so weeds will not be a problem and the sandy substrate will drain well. Most of all, this area is nice and sunny. Totally worth digging through an inch or three of gravel for all those positive attributes. I excavated a hole of the proper dimensions, and sifted the gravel from the dirt. I used the dirt to fill in some holes the chickens dug in the back, which will hopefully prevent me from twisting an ankle later. I reserved the gravel.

How big a hole should one dig for a tree? The only way to tell is to look at the tree. That little knob I am pointing at in the photo is the point where the root stock was grafted to the main trunk. The knob should be 2-3 inches above the soil. Also, the root mass should be a few inches from the sides of the hole all the way around. Some resources I looked at recommend the hole be twice the diameter of the roots.

The Most Important Thing is to make sure you loosen the soil at the bottom of the hole. Alternately, you can dig the hole extra deep and add some loose soil to the bottom. That is what I did. Newly planted trees need room and fertilizer to grow their roots. I mixed loam from the nearby pile with compost from my nearby chickens. After getting the tree to the correct height I asked Mr. Food It Yourself to hold the trunk while I added more loam/compost mix.

I gave the tree a good watering, even though the ground was damp. I let the soil settle until today (Wednesday) and topped off the hole. I then surrounded the trunk with some weed block and covered the weed block with the gravel I excavated.

It will be a few years before we get any fruit from this tree. It is recommended that you strip any flowers from newly planted fruit trees for the first year or two so that the tree puts all its metabolic effort into the roots. I am already thinking about what I will do with my Hosui, Anjou, Chojuro, and Shinseiki pears, though.

So far, 2020 has been a lumpy mix of bizarre weather, social upheaval, and economic uncertainty. But it is still springtime. Things are growing. We are growing. What summer will bring is yet to be seen, but we can enjoy the springtime.

Let’s celebrate everything growing! Share what is growing near you in the comments section.