In with the Apples

 Granny's RootsRoot Bound Pink Lady Apple
In the Seasol
Laying out the pipe
Biodegradable Pegs
Pressure Insurance
Ready for Mulch

Today was Virginia Nursery day. We found three apples; a Granny Smith, a Red Fuji, and a Pink Lady. We also bought pears, a pomegranate, and a Hardenbergia; more about them later. The van stinks of nursery pots and Dynamic Lifter.

Planting began with a collection of weak Seasol solution, frozen lamb, the trees, spade, and a pair of secateurs. And the trees. 

First the lamb. Road kill is good fertiliser. Our Navel/Valencia has thrived not only on Zinc-Manganese but also a cat, a dog, a rabbit, a stray chook my daughter rescued and brought home, and a galah who walked under the tree and lay down and died.  The lamb is not road kill. It got lost in the freezer sometime in 2011 and none of us are game to eat it. It went into a hole in the middle of the other three.

After taking off the pots I teased out the roots on each tree with my fingers and some gentle shaking, and finished off the job by dunking the trees in a 10 litre bucket of water which had a lid full of added seasol.  You can see how the roots have begun to wind around in the pots. The Granny Smith roots were as long as the wheel barrow; that is, more than twice the depth of their pot.

If we can see the roots on the surface after de-potting then the plant is most likely root bound and is likely to fail. That pulling out of the pots and dropping into the ground they do in garden makeovers on TV is stupid. A good fruit tree sets us back $40.00, if not more; give it its best shot, I say.

Even if the roots are barely visible, there is no guarantee that it was not root-bound before potting up! I've been caught like this before, and now always remove the majority of the soil.

I found a couple of thicker roots that were beginning to circle in two of the trees, and cut these off. I then planted the trees to the same depth they had been in their pots and tamped down the soil just enough for them to stand up on their own. No fertiliser at this stage because apparently it will burn the roots on apples. I made sure the Seasol was weak, too.

I've planted the trees with the barest section of trunk on the inside of the circle, and cut off one of the Granny's branches that was going to grow into the circle. I put them about 2 feet apart, which I hope is still close enough for them to compete with each other and stunt the overall height of the cluster. According to the labels, they will cross fertilise each other.

Subsurface irrigation pipe was the next step. This stuff is a pest to lay down because it keeps coiling up and won't stay in place. I hold it down with half bricks until I get it in place and then peg it down with old Y-fork prunings. By the time they rot out the pipe will be a fixture. I've set the pipe so there are a couple of loops around the trees, and so there is room for the trunks to grow without breaking the pipe.

This pipe will be fed by normal black poly, and I've used the usual barbed joiners with a twitch of gal wire to protect against high pressure. I find the clip-on poly clamps break fairly soon and are not as effective.

After the pipe was in place I began collecting cardboard from the hoard which lives atop the old rabbit/guinea pig hutch. (There might be guinea pigs under the orange tree, too.) Ikea and Kelloggs, and several other companies, are helping with my weed control and water conservation. Once the cardboard was in place, I collected yesterday's rosemary and pelargonium prunings to top it all off with mulch. This helps with the water, weeds and root temperature, as well as helping the garden look less like a tip because of windblown cardboard.

There were not enough prunings, so I started taming a Grevillea which has been taking over a corner of the yard to make up the shortfall.

The last step was to insert some stakes; left over reo from the house foundations, and to add a couple of buckets of water. The place is so sodden from the last week's rain that watering in was barely necessary!

Now we wait. I notice some buds have softened, so we should see some action in a couple of weeks.


Written August 25, posted October 22 2013