Miles Flansburg wrote:Amy, I am wondering what your water table is like?
Cottonwoods and lush grass sounds to me like you may have moisture in the ground, not to far down?
Have you tried digging a hole further out away from the cottonwoods? Just to see how wet the ground is?
Just wondering if you are working to hard, thinking that you have to plant them close to the irrigation water?
Also swales and hugelkultur may help with water.
Ann Torrence wrote:Keep digging! The ancient cottonwood trees on our place that have blown over have very shallow, widely spread roots.
Even better, since you have 45 of them, might be to rent an auger for a day. I had someone auger 4' deep and watered every 11 days (or irrigation turn) to push our fruit trees' roots deep the first year. It would be good if they don't compete in the same layer as the cottonwoods.
Might also want a pound of rock phosphate, as Michael Phillips suggests, since the cottonwood roots have had been feeding there. I figure it's worth it to give the new trees the best possible start.
Cam Mitchell wrote:@Amy
You may already know this, but make sure to cut the grass back away from the new fruit trees. It will compete with them for water and nutrients. Mulch at least out about 3-4', more if you can, but not up against the trunk. Reduces rodents making yummy snack of the tender plants you just put there for them.
Careful with the auger, if a hand-held machine. If the bit grabs a root, it may decide to turn you instead of the auger. And if there are any extraneous appendages in the way, well....ouch. Don't ask me how I know.
I feel your pain on digging holes. I'm getting 175 native trees/bushes from the state forest service, plus 200+ non-native fruit tree and bush seedlings grown by me. I would love a tractor auger.
You know, maybe with all these seedlings I should start a nursery. That's what Eric Toensmeyer and Mark Shepard did, and Geoff Lawton too, come to think of it.
+1 on the sawzall. I assume some sort of rapidly combusting material is out of the question?
Ken Peavey wrote:There is a tool called a Sawzall. It's a reciprocating saw which can be fitted with interchangable blades. There are long blades for cutting wood which will work well for you. $70-100 for the saw, $10-20 for the blades, and you'll need electric power.
Dig what you can, when you find a root, whip out the saw.
Wear safety glasses when you use it. Small bits and chips can be thrown around.
Jordan Lowery wrote:ive got about 300 little pomegranate seedlings from a tree on the side of the road. hardy genetics, free trees.
dont forget cuttings and root divisions. i grow my own rootstock and graft fruit trees for around 2 cents. and i get higher quality trees. scion wood can be collected almost anywhere, anyone will let you clip a branch off a tree.