National Tree Week is the UK’s largest annual tree celebration, marking the start of the winter tree planting season. Wildlife relies on trees for food, shelter and nest sites, and trees can help to absorb CO2 and fight climate change.
So why not plant something useful, beautiful and tasty and be a #TreeChampion this National Tree Week (23 November – 1 December)?
The bare root fruit season is about to start and between now and spring is the best time to plant fruit trees and bushes. Consider growing more than one tree, although many trees are self-fertile, cross-pollination will always give a better and larger crop.
What should I expect?
Bare roots will arrive ‘bottle brushed’, meaning that all excess soil and roots have been cleaned off in order to avoid fungal infections. The roots may appear dry on the outside but hold plenty of moisture inside. Soak the roots for a few hours prior to planting.
How to plant
If you cannot plant the tree straight away, keep it in an unheated but frost-free garage or shed and keep the roots moist by spraying daily or wrapping damp newspaper around them. If planting is not possible due to prolonged periods of heavy frost or snow, plant it into a large pot using a quality compost. Keep the compost moist and the tree in a frost-free place.
Choose a sunny and sheltered position and prepare the ground at least two weeks in advance. Double Digging is recommended to aerate the topsoil and break up the subsoil. Add plenty of organic matter such as compost and well-rotted manure. Adding Blood Fish and Bone and Mycorrhizal will be beneficial for the establishment of the tree. Put in a strong stake to support the tree, place it on the side of the prevailing wind.
The holes should be wide enough to spread the roots evenly. The old soil mark on the stem should be used as a marker for the correct planting depth. Backfill with the soil mixture firming down well but don’t tread heavily. Water in thoroughly.
If the tree has a lot of growth, consider pruning out any thin and spindly branches or at least reducing the length by two thirds.
Proper aftercare is just as important as good planting. Water the tree thoroughly, roots grow as long as the soil temperatures are above 7°C and require plenty of moisture. Feed the tree in the spring with an application of a general fertiliser and during the summer month feed with a high potash fertiliser. Mulching with well-rotted manure/compost around the roots will preserve moisture and nourish the tree, ensure the mulch does not touch the trunk.
Remove the blossom in the first spring after planting. Check the tree’s ties at least once a year making sure the trunk is not being strangled. Keep the area weed and grass free.
We hope you’ll consider planting a tree in your garden or patio pot, so you can enjoy the fruits of your labours next year.