Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Grow For It: Plant bare root fruit trees — a green-thumb project in February?

From page B5 | January 01, 2014 |

Who would have thought that planting little twigs the diameter of a pencil with exposed roots this time of year would flourish?

Well, check this out: bare root fruit trees. They don’t look very impressive from the nursery, but that’s part of the fun — these babies really take off and can out-perform their potted brethren at a fraction of the cost.

I was skeptical until last year, when we started our own orchard.

Pick a time during the dormant season when the ground is not frozen. Mid-February worked well for us. Plan the tree layout and spacing — group compatible pollinators together to ease cross-pollinating.

Rootstock is a very important consideration when planning an orchard. As trees mature, do you want to use ladders to harvest your fruit? If not, you may wish to consider using a semi-dwarf rootstock. This will limit tree growth to 10 to 15 feet. Pruning further controls their size.

Pick a site with good sun exposure and drainage. Dig holes, twice as wide as the roots spread out, so the roots can grow outward without crowding. Remove any grass or weeds within a three-foot radius, as they will compete with your trees for moisture and nutrients.

Unpack the trees and soak the roots in water for three to six hours, just prior to planting.

Prune broken branches and roots — do not treat with a dressing. Your goal is to be planting within one week of delivery, so plan with the weather forecast in mind.

Plant the tree at the same depth it stood in the nursery. Orient the graft union to face north — away from direct sunlight and make sure the graft is above the soil, otherwise buds will be produced by the rootstock.

Fill the hole with the same soil as you took out. Back-filling the hole with ‘nice’ dirt like top soil, will minimize the tree’s root expansion into the surrounding native soil, and in effect, you have just ‘potted’ a fruit tree which limits its future growth. Do not use fertilizer or chemicals on the new trees.

Construct a water-holding basin around the tree, under the drip line. Give the tree plenty of water.

After the water has soaked in, spread protective mulch two inches deep in a three-foot diameter around the tree but not touching the trunk. This helps keep moisture in and competing grasses out.

The soil and mulch around the trees should be kept moist but not soggy. During dry weather, generously water the tree every seven to 10 days during the first year. Provide water deeply at the dripline. Drip emitters with a timer work great for this.

Moisture can be easily checked at the root zone (six to 12 inches below the surface) with a moisture meter.

A phenomenal resource to help establish and maintain the fruit trees is “The Home Orchard” book published by the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources; publication 3485. It can be found at the Master Gardener office and at Saturday public education classes.

Join Master Gardeners Saturday, Jan. 4 for one of the most popular public education classes: Planting Bare Root Fruit Trees. Master Gardener and long-time county resident Walt Miller will present essential information on the selection and the proper planting of bare root fruit trees. The focus of the class will be on planting techniques and tree selection, with emphasis on fruit tree varieties best suited for El Dorado County.

There is no cost for the three-hour class that starts at 9 a.m. in the Veterans Memorial Building, 130 Placerville Drive in Placerville.

Master Gardeners are available to answer home gardening questions Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to noon by calling 530-621-5512. Walk-ins are welcome at the office, 311 Fair Lane in Placerville.

For more information about the public education classes and activities go to the Master Gardener Website at Sign up to receive the  online notices and e-newsletter at You can also find Master Gardeners on Facebook.





District 2 candidate statements tell of goals

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A1

Sand Fire nears containment: 66 structures destroyed

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Quarter-acre fire in Kelsey

By Rebecca Murphy | From Page: A3

Schedule for Highway 50 blasting closures

By News Release | From Page: A3

Tails wagging over dog park approval

By Julie Samrick | From Page: A3



My Turn: Privatization of public services

By Mark Belden | From Page: A4

Policy book

By Mountain Democrat | From Page: A4



District 2 supervisorial special election

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 4 Comments

GDPUD management report

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

Piano replaced

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

Comments sign-in policy

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

Save the Guinea Worm

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

Large bangs

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 2 Comments

Private property gets no respect

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 2 Comments



Ex-Bruin lends a helping hand

By Steven Shaff | From Page: A8 | Gallery

Sierra Sharks finish middle of the pack

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A8

Roundup: July 29, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A8

Taz pull through for SSL trophy

By Patty Pope | From Page: A8



Nuns discover a pleasant place

By Lexi Boeger | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Bargains can be found everywhere

By Democrat Staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

At a glance: Game time

By Mimi Escabar | From Page: B2

Barbecue dinner to benefit Blue Star Moms

By Mount Aukum Winery | From Page: B2

Stagecoach story takes riders on a trip

By Wendy Schultz | From Page: B3

Help needed to make cool ties

By Sew 4 | From Page: B3

Stroke and osteoporosis screenings planned

By Life Line Screening | From Page: B3

Master Food Preservers: Tomato time

By Monique Wilber | From Page: B4

Gold Rush Days activities cancelled this year

By Sacramento Convention And Visitors Center | From Page: B4

Build an author platform at the Library

By El Dorado | From Page: B5

Sacramento area museums offer summer fun

By Sacramento Association Of Museums | From Page: B5



Weather stats 7-29-14

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2

Building permits 6/2-6/2014

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2Comments are off for this post

Crime Log: July 17

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A2



Wallace Murrel Thomas

By Contributor | From Page: A2

Merlyn Wilbur Adams

By Contributor | From Page: A2


Real Estate




Women’s Health

Love the skin you’re in

By Noel Stack | From Page: WH4

Dump stress and improve your health, productivity

By Wendy Schultz | From Page: WH7Comments are off for this post

Women’s Health Expo

By Marshall Medical | From Page: WH8

Find the confidence you need to fight back

By Special to the Democrat | From Page: WH12

Our choices directly affect our health

By Special to the Democrat | From Page: WH14

They’re NOT your mother’s hearing devices!

By Marshall Medical | From Page: WH17