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Orchard planting in the time of coronavirus

 
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Back in January I ordered about 25 trees plus berry bushes, kiwis, grapes, etc. They should be arriving in mid-April. I'm on track to get holes ready for planting and an 8' electric fence installed (deer pressure is insane here). My problem is that I intended to order a dump truck load of compost to put in the bottom of the holes. Now I doubt that will be considered "essential" and my state is under a shelter in place order. I just moved here and the only fertilizer I have on hand is fresh cow manure. I'm in the middle of an oak, beech, and cherry forest with about a foot of basically terra prata (just the best black soil I've ever seen) over beach sand. The trees here produce well, judging by the insane number of acorn hulls still on the ground. I'm wondering what's going to happen if I just scrape up that nice topsoil for the tree holes to plant in and plant them. I've sunk a ton of savings into these trees and I don't want to lose them. I don't know if soil test labs will be open, or if I'd be able to get a result in time in any case. I'd love some advice on what to do.
 
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Location: Richwood, West Virginia
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Here you go:

Bryant RedHawk wrote: ...just plant and water in with some B-12 water, make this easily by dissolving a couple of Vitamin B-12 Tabs into one gallon of warm water, let this cool then shake and pour, easy  peasy...


 
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I like to plant trees/shrubs into the native soil.  Otherwise if I amend the hole, the tree may not want to reach roots out and explore the world around it.  Especially if you have a foot of great soil to begin with.
 
pollinator
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Location: Nevada, Mo 64772
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Unless the pH is wrong, I would just plant them. If they are varieties suitable for your area, they should be fine.
 
pollinator
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Mike Haasl wrote:I like to plant trees/shrubs into the native soil.  Otherwise if I amend the hole, the tree may not want to reach roots out and explore the world around it.  Especially if you have a foot of great soil to begin with.



My thoughts exactly.  Paul from Back to Eden garden film phrases it something like "Why lie to the tree?  Just tell it, here is where you live now."  I have had far better luck planting in the native soil than heavily amending it and then planting.  Now I plant in the soil and anything I want to add, I add on top.  Wood chips are best in my experience.
 
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You do NOT need compost to plant trees. As others have said, it's better to plant into native soil ESPECIALLY if it's good soil! New horticulture practice recommends putting compost on top of the soil to add nutrients after the tree is planted.

I've read different things about mulching around trees... Are you going to do that?
 
pollinator
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I like to put some manure under a tree, deeper than I plant it (with a buffer of a few inches of dirt). If it's real fresh manure (less than 4 months old), better to skip that, and let it age longer, then just make rings a foot or more away from the trunks, where it's not on top of the new roots, but where it'll gradually seep into the soil.

You can still toss any kitchen scraps (especially bananas!), chicken bones, or best of all, fish corpses, in the hole (with two or more inches of dirt over it before planting the tree roots), before planting the tree. I hear rusty nails are supposed to be good long-term (iron and zinc and other minerals) as well - I almost always forget to do that, though. Whatever organic matter, or bones (long-term calcium), you have available is a great bonus if available, but not a necessity.

Planting in the natural soil is actually good for the trees, but supplementing it somewhat is helpful too, when possible. Digging a hole and putting in completely different soil actually isn't good for the tree, because you're raising it to adapt to the wrong soil that it'll grow out of after two years and not be prepared for, or worse, it's roots may try to keep circling inside the soil it's used to, and tangle up its own roots.

Digging square-ish holes also helps (but again, isn't strictly necessary) for the same reason - it helps reduce the roots circling around where the loose soil meets the compact soil.

If you never planted trees before, don't be discouraged if some of them die. That's the nature of learning to raise living plants. I lost a horrible number of trees early on - around 70% (mostly due to flooding). And even now, I lose about 20%. You'll do much better than me, but don't get discouraged by a few here or there.
 
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