November 26th – December 4th 2022 Is National Tree Week & I’m Planting A Plum Tree.
National Tree Week is a Tree Council Event and is in its 50th year. As part of the week I’ve planted a Victoria plum tree to supply us with plums for the foreseeable future. We planted one two years ago and have had very good crops in both the successive seasons so I couldn’t resist another.
The previous tree was pot grown and was in its second year after grafting. This year, to reduce costs, I’ve gone for a bare root grafted tree. Bare root trees are lower cost than pot grown trees, but if planted in autumn, establish very quickly and, in my experience, often do better than pot grown ones.
This particular Victoria plum is grafted onto a St Julien semi-dwarfing rootstock. It shouldn’t grow to more than 4 metres high.
Victoria is one of my favourite plums and my grandfather grew them on a heavy clay soil without a dwarfing rootstock. though often promoted as not doing o well on clay I recall several of the Victorias trees 20-30 foot in to the sky and were crowned with white blossom in spring and abundant deep red fruit in August and September.
Planting Bare Rooted Trees
Bare rooted trees are easy to plant.
Dig s hole slightly bigger than the root spread. Loosen the bottom of the hole, place the tree at the correct depth and back fill avoiding leaving air gaps that will dry the roots out in the growing season.
To remove air gaps gently tread the soil down as you fill the hole.
Compost can be added to the backfill soil and a mulch added to the soil surface once planted.
Don’t plant too deep. The level should be as indicated by the previous level that should be visible on the stem.
Staking the tree is advised in the first few years. Research shows that rather than a big tall stake being needed the best way is to stack the tree quite low down. This way the bottom of the stem and roots are held steady but the upper stem and branches can sway in the wind. This encourages the tree to form bigger roots to secure itself in the soil. There is more on tree staking research available via the link.
Why Grows Trees?
Trees needn’t be grown just for fruit, they can also supply colour in the growing season, autumn colour and even winter colour in some cases. Plus they sequester a lot of carbon and can lock some of it up in the soil for centuries.
Top Tree Planting Tip
Here’s a tip I never see anywhere but when I give it myself!
Digging holes for a lot of trees can be backbreaking .. I find more than one makes my back ache. Except when I use my special tree planting spade.
In the photo there is a standard spade and my tree planting and fence post digging spade. The longer handle means less bending. The handle is based on the Devon ditching spade that I used when I first left school and worked on a farm prior to going to college. It is far easier to dig with and was used to dig or clean miles of ditches in winter time! Today we use tractors to do the same job.
The only problem with this spade is it can’t be bought. You have to make your own. But long replacement handles are available on Amazon.
In the video below Jon Stokes, the Tree Council’s Head of Science and Research, demonstrates how to plant healthy trees and hedgerows.
Hedgerows serve many purposes. Not only do they form boundaries, they also act as wildlife corridors, larders for wildlife and shelter belts.
Plus they are key to helping us reduce carbon emissions and pollution.
There’s more info on hedgerows at hedgelink.org.uk
I bought my trees from https://www.bowhayestrees.co.uk/