If the fruit tree or bush is bare-rooted, it is important that the roots do not dry out. Keep them temporarily wrapped in wet newspaper and covered in plastic. If you don’t know immediately where to put the tree or bush, then plant it temporarily in a spare bit of well-watered ground (called ‘heeling in’).
As fruit trees and bushes will be in the same spot for many years, good soil preparation is essential. Here are some tips:
- If your soil drains well and is reasonably fertile you only need to prepare a planting hole one metre in diameter.
- Dig a hole at least 20 cms deeper than the bottom of the roots
- If you are planting into the grass, dig the turf in when creating your hole. It contains valuable nutrients
- Keep a perimeter of 60-75 cm clear of grass and weeds
Backfill your hole with a 20 cm layer of your prepared soil. This allows you to place your tree or bushes in the hole, with the exception of blackcurrants, so that they are no deeper than the original soil mark. It is particularly important with fruit trees not to bury the graft union (the bump at the bottom of the stem just above the roots). Blackcurrants, however, should be planted 5 cm deeper than the original soil mark.
Fruit trees need a stake, so plant this at the same time. It should be approx 1.2m long, with 45 cms driven into the ground.
Water plants well after planting, then apply a mulch (see below). Finally, tie the tree to the stake, using rubber strips or old tights (do not use string or wire, they will cut into the stem as it thickens with growth).
During the first summer
It is vital to provide enough water to your new fruit plantings during the growing season and to keep them free of weeds. Water regularly and generously if the weather is dry. A mulch of old newspaper (at least 8 pages thick) or cardboard covered with straw, grass mowings, or leaf mould - after you have thoroughly watered, will help to conserve moisture and suppress weeds.