23rd July 2023 Update : We are currently adding this winter's stock of bare rooted trees to the website, which will be open for orders this week. Please send us an email to get a notification that the shop is open!
Our fruit trees are supplied as bare rooted maidens around 1.5m-1.8m tall. They should be planted between December and the end of March.
If you are looking to plant a large number of fruit trees we recommend carrying out a soil analysis. This will tell you if you need to be amending your soils to suit the needs of your trees. NRM Laboratories offer this service.
We can recommend using Mycorrhizal Fungi when planting your trees, but we do not recommend adding compost to your planting hole, unless it is exceptionally poor/thin.
Choosing A Location For Planting
Plant your fruit tree in a sunny spot. South or west facing sites will give the best quality fruit. Sweet and delicious fruits require lots of direct sun light to ripen properly – north and east facing sites will not provide enough sunlight for good quality dessert fruit. However north and east facing sites can be used with success for sour cherries, cooking plums/damsons and some early season cooking apples.
Fruit trees also need a sheltered spot in order to thrive. Cold easterly/northerly winds in the spring will hinder pollination if fruit trees are in flower. Trees that are constantly battered by strong prevailing winds (especially salty coastal winds) will have their overall growth checked and will not do well.
Other trees and hedges in the garden or orchard can provide good shelter if they are kept at the right height. Remember, 1m in height will provide around 8m of shelter to surrounding trees, so a 3m hedge will provide approximately 24m of shelter. Planting distances from existing hedges will be determined by the rootstock you choose.
Whilst planting, keep the tree roots wrapped in polythene so they are out of the wind. If the roots seem dry, soak them in a bucket of water for 20 minutes before planting.
Dig Your Hole
Dig a square hole wide enough so the roots of the tree can fan out. Around 40cm x 40cm x 30cm deep is advisable.
Remove the turf from this area - the turf can either be chopped up with a spade and added to the bottom of the planting hole, or you can put it on the compost.
Be careful that the hole is not too deep – place the tree in the hole to see where the soil level will be once back-filled. The finished soil level should be 3-5cm above the topmost root. Depending on the individual tree, you may have to dig a slightly deeper hole, or you may have to add some soil back in the hole so the tree is not too deep.
Stake Your Tree
Before backfilling, bang in a 90cm stake on the windward side of the hole so that prevailing winds will blow your tree away from the stake. In Devon the prevailing wind comes from a south westerly direction. The stake should be driven in vertically and at least 40cm in the ground.
Place your tree a few cm from the stake and back-fill your hole with the soil you have dug out.
Shake the tree up and down slightly as you back-fill to get rid of any air gaps. Once half the soil is back in the hole you can lightly tamp it down with your heel. Don’t be too overzealous, you just want to be firming it. Now backfill with the rest of the soil that came out of the hole and firm again with your heel.
Using a tree-tie, attach your tree tightly at the top of the stake. The tree tie should create a figure of 8 so the tree can’t rub against the stake. It should be tight to the stake so it cannot rub.
Mulch Your Tree
Mulch can be either organic (organic in the sense that it is derived from living things) or inorganic. Either way, when used around fruit trees its purpose is the same: to act as a physical barrier to weeds and to help retain moisture in the soil around the tree, i.e. the root zone.
Organic mulches include compost/well rotted farm yard manure/shredded bark/fresh or decomposed woodchip. These are especially good at retaining moisture in the soil as they can be heaped up to create a thick bulky layer – 15cm is good with a 0.5 - 1metre diameter, too thin and weeds will budge their way through. Don’t place organic material right up against the tree trunk, leave a gap around the base of roughly 10cm.
Suitable inorganic mulches include wool/jute weed barriers or woven polythene. These are often better at suppressing weed growth and should last many years (unlike inorganic mulches that have to be regularly topped up) but don’t offer the same level of moisture retention in the soil as a thick layer of organic mulch. You should keep the area at the base of your tree weed/grass free for the first 3 years after planting. This will make a huge difference in how well the tree establishes.
Watering Your Tree After Planting
You do not need to water bare rooted trees planted between Dec – mid-March. If trees are planted late-March and there is no rain forecast, you can give them 5-10L water/tree.