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Fruit tree seedling care

 
Russell Olson
Posts: 179
Location: Zone 4 MN USA
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So I've had good success this year in growing a bunch of fruit trees from seed.
Beach Plums, Wild Plum, Cherry, Pear, Apple, Mulberry, Persimmon, Siberian Pea shrub, black locust, and cultivated Russian Olive.

I've got them in a "starter bed" right now where I could weed around them and keep them happy.
Most are 1-2 ft tall now, I'm wondering what the next step should be.

I could certainly leave them there and transplant them next spring, I could transplant them this fall after they go dormant, I could pot them up and bring them into the garage for the winter, or leave them for another season i suppose.

Any thoughts?

I'm thinking I'll leave them over the winter to further prove their hardiness and transplant them around my property in the spring.
 
Denis Huel
Posts: 88
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I would prepare my future planting sites now and plant them bare root at the optimum time early next spring.

Cold climates present additional stress for plants and leaving them undisturbed in the nursery is less problematic. With potted plants its sometime difficult to keep the roots warm enough so they don't winterkill and the tops cold enough to prevent early out of sync. growth(for the season). In addition by not disturbing the plants this summer of fall any information obtained in the spring with respect to plant hardiness will not be confounded by the effects of transplanting.

Good luck.

 
Russell Olson
Posts: 179
Location: Zone 4 MN USA
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Didn't think about prepping planting sites now, good call.
Thanks!
 
Michael Qulek
Posts: 148
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Hi Russell
Could you please expand on how you've managed to sprout cherry pits. I've attempted it several times with store-bought fruit, but have never ever gotten a single germinated seed. I even tried swallowing the pits and reharvesting them the next day. Nothing worked.

I have have very good success with other seeds like apple, pear, peach, almond, and apricot. Not a single cherry though.
 
Russell Olson
Posts: 179
Location: Zone 4 MN USA
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I'm a minimal input guy, one of the reasons I love permiculture. I'm learning as I go when energy and time input is required and when it's not.
I'm also a beginner so i really am just experimenting right now and expect my permiculture knowledge will expand with my successes and failures.

I tried pampering seeds along 2 years ago. Cold stratifying in the fridge, misting seedlings indoors, transplanting outside, protecting them from early frost, etc.
What a pain and a ton of time/energy when I see a apple tree full of fruit growing in the ditch on my way to work.
Last year I wanted to see how outdoor fall sowing would work. We had a brutal winter so who knows if I lost some seeds to the cold but I like it alot better overall.

Here goes:
I bought a bunch of seeds last fall, harvested some from fruit, had some in storage from previous years.
I built a 4 x 4 bed in my garden, good sun, good drainage. I'm blessed with good soil.

I double dug up the area, planted my fruit tree seeds, mulched with a grass/leaves/woodchip/compost mix about an inch deep and left it to freeze for the winter.

This spring I kept it weeded early, and saw seedlings emerge late spring and that was that.

I have to clarify, the numbers weren't great. Of the pears I got maybe half to sprout, plums maybe 1/3. Some things like saskatoon I didn't get any.
The 10 cherry seeds i got produced 1 seedling, thought it's quite happy. The nitrogen fixers had better numbers, most of them came up eventually.

I tend to wonder if nature(which this method basically imitates) isn't super efficient when it comes to sprouting fruit trees. My hope is the trees that do emerge do so because they have good vigor. It might just be luck and a numbers game which is ok by me for now.

I'm holding out hope that the bed will become a yearly seedling "basecamp" I can throw seeds in and have 20-50 trees each year come from.

Long term goal is I'll be transforming my property from a dark forest full of diseased hardwoods and invasive undergrowth to a healthy food forest that I can tend with minimal effort and walk through.
 
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