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Tree stakes?

 
Jenna Sanders
Posts: 54
Location: Michigan, zone 5
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I have recently planted some fruit trees in my front yard, about 6-7 feet away from the road. This was as close as I dared get, in order to avoid the snow from the plow trucks in the winter, as well as salt. I'm attempting to establish the beginnings of a forest garden and these are my largest trees, on the north side, to be followed by the dwarf varieties, shrubs, etc.
The trees I have are about 2 years old (purchased from the nursery) and were previously staked up, very badly. The zip ties on the stake were way too tight and started to girdle the tree. They were this way when I bought them. I clipped off the stakes and ties and have left them without any support. One of the trees is leaning just a bit, but I'm assuming it will straighten out, as the other did.
My very well meaning neighbors keep coming over and telling me that I should really stake up the tree, and I have just been smiling and thanking them for their kind advice...aarg. Do I really need to stake up my trees? It just doesn't really seem like a permaculture thing. When an apple tree in the wild starts to grow, God doesn't come down and say "Here, little tree have a stake so you don't flop over"
I'm not sure why I am so oddly frustrated by this...but do I really need to stake up my tree? good, or more harm? In my experience, the more something is meddled with, the weaker it gets and more dependent on me to "manage it."
Sorry for rambling, thanks in advance for your thoughts.
 
Rebecca Norman
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Location: Ladakh, Indian Himalayas at 10,500 feet, zone 5
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food preservation greening the desert solar trees
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There's no tradition of staking trees here, and apricot and apple transplants seem to do okay, as long as they get sufficient water when young. We often get ferocious gusts of wind in the afternoons.
 
Jenna Sanders
Posts: 54
Location: Michigan, zone 5
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Perfect! I'll tell my neighbors that. I was researching tree staking and the information that kept coming up said if you must stake the tree, do it carefully because you can really harm it. Actually by not staking it, you encourage stronger roots, because they have to dig in and do their job.
 
Leila Rich
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Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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Welcome to permies Jenna

I always stake fruit trees unless I don't get around to it for some reason.
It can be really windy here and unstaked trees often get bad 'root rock', or even get pushed right over.
I use quite thin stakes -maybe an inch square- that rot away in a couple of years when the tree's stabilised.
I always use two stakes, one positioned where the prevailing wind comes from, the other directly opposite.
I find old cotton sheets ripped into 1 1/2inch strips make great tree ties.
It's vital that any ties are wide and flexible so the don't cut the tree.
I tie one end to a stake, loop it a couple of times around the tree, tie the other end to the stake and repeat with the other
I leave it a little slack so the tree has to do a bit of work
 
John Polk
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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The question of staking is partially answered by what kind of rootstock has the tree been grafted to.
Better nurseries will tell you if it is required, recommended, or strictly personal preference.
Lesser nurseries probably don't even know what root stock is on the plant.
(IMHO, if the nursery doesn't know, they are not professionals, and should be avoided.)
Some rootstocks, such as Malus m-9 (or EMLA-9), the nursery will tell you that staking is required.
From my observations, it is mostly some of the dwarf stocks that say 'Staking required'.
I can't recall ever seeing it recommended for full sized root stocks.

Regardless of the rootstock, if the tree gets deep watering through its first growing season, it will send down deeper roots, thus eliminating, or minimizing the need to stake.

I wholeheartedly agree that if we pamper the tree too much, early on, it will become more dependent on pampering. I think that we all are seeking plants that will thrive with minimal input, rather than a delicate orchid that demands daily care.

 
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