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trees in poorly draining soil?  RSS feed

 
dan long
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If i have poorly draining soil to work with and I want to plant annuals, i might make a 6-inch raised bed. 6 Inches is enough for most vegetables provided they have irrigation. With tap rooted cover crops, i might even be able to improve soil structure under the beds over time (any idea how deeply one can reasonably expect cover crops to improve compacted soil)? What about trees or deep rooted perenials? I assume I cant just give those 6 inches to work with and expect them to be fine, right? If I want to plant some fruit trees in heavy clay, what would I have to do? What is the most sustainable, permie-approved way to go about it?

This might be a really dumb question, but if i planted trees at the top of a hugel mound, what would happen to the tree as the mound settles?
 
Cj Sloane
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Take a look around. If there are trees growing in the area, you can plant them. You'll have better success if you plant what grows well in your area though. If a tree needs lots of sun and it's too shady it wont work.

If you want to plant fruit trees in heavy clay, put in swales. Even small ones will help a lot. I know people tend to discount them, especially where I am because it often seems like we have too much water so why would you need a water catching earthwork? Because the swale mound is drier than the surrounding area but doesn't dry out because the water is stored in that heavy clay soil below ground that the tree roots can sink into.
 
dan long
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Cj Verde wrote:Take a look around. If there are trees growing in the area, you can plant them. You'll have better success if you plant what grows well in your area though. If a tree needs lots of sun and it's too shady it wont work.

If you want to plant fruit trees in heavy clay, put in swales. Even small ones will help a lot. I know people tend to discount them, especially where I am because it often seems like we have too much water so why would you need a water catching earthwork? Because the swale mound is drier than the surrounding area but doesn't dry out because the water is stored in that heavy clay soil below ground that the tree roots can sink into.


That is an excellent suggestion.
 
Alder Burns
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The most important lesson I learned the hard way is to not put any amendments into the planting holes in heavy clay. Trees are best planted bare-root, and the original clay tamped carefully around them. Apply any amendments on top of the soil as a mulch, or in dryland, or with problematical amendments like humanure, dig a hole beside the root system and place the amendments there. The problem with improved soil in planting holes is that it will retain more pore space than the surrounding clay, and in rains this space will fill with water, which will not be able to drain into the tight packed surrounding soil. The tree will quickly drown, especially if this happens in the growing season. Some trees are more sensitive to this than others (stone fruits and citrus are supposedly notorious), and these might best be planted on mounds or slightly raised beds. Mostly it's a problem with newly planted stuff....once it's been growing a few years the roots are every which way and can tolerate a lot more. Planting stuff from containers, with a root ball of fluffy potting mix intact, directly into a tight clay is also a recipe for disaster. Make a mound in this case.
 
Peter Ellis
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There are reasons Sepp does not plant trees on hugelbeds. Not suitable.
 
Adam Moore
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Location: Mansfield, Ohio Zone 5b percip 44"
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I will second the mound idea. Just this spring I moved to a new house and planted 16 dwarf fruit trees. Six of them ended up in clay soil and they were drowning. The water would just sit there. I had no choice but to dig them up after I lost one tree and add soil to make mounds. They seem to be coming back. A couple are still struggling though. If I had better drainage I think they would have done ok in the clay. I wish I would have been more patient and observed the yard throughout the year before planting the trees. I could have avoided this mistake.
 
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