Have I killed my fruit tree??

Discussion in 'Gardening Discussions' started by Jannt86, Nov 14, 2019.

  1. Jannt86

    Jannt86 Apprentice Gardener

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    Hi,
    I have a couple of probably quite simple questions about planting a little orchard in my back garden. So the other day I was delivered 4 bare root M26 rootstock apple (and one plum) trees. I got it in my head that they needed planting as soon as I received them so I did my best yesterday. However, my ground was incredibly soggy and due to having a young daughter I only managed to have time to plant one egremont russet. I'll be honest the hole was very waterlogged due to having lots of rain recently. The hole filled slightly with water shortly after digging it and the soil was very slushy. I probably should've cut my losses right there and then but I decided just to crack on. I managed just about to get it in the ground and bedded it with a mix of the existing soil and compost. All 4 bare roots had been soaking for a few hours in a bucket of water but on realising that there was no way I was going to be able to dig any more in the pitch black (:rolleyespink:) I've done what I thought was the next best thing and sort of potted the remaining 3 together in some compost just enough to cover the roots and put them round the side of our house where it's cool and shaded. My questions are 1) Do you think there's any chance my russet will have survived such a waterlogging? (especially considering the rain is so heavy again today) I don't think that my lawn is generally poorly draining but just that the rain has been so terrible. Is there any way of keeping check on how it's doing prior to spring or am I just going to have to wait and see if it grows ok? And 2) will the other roots survive ok the way I've potted them for a few days until the ground dries? Does anyone else have any more tips how to keep them happy? Thanks
     
  2. noisette47

    noisette47 Total Gardener

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    Hello Jannt86, you have my deepest sympathy! It's the same here...so much to do but saturated soil stopping play. I think the Egremont Russet would be better with the other three. You did exactly the right thing, covering the bare roots, protecting them from frost and drying out. They'll be OK for a couple of weeks like that, kept just barely damp.
    If the planting hole was filling with water, though, there's every chance that it will stay too wet all winter and that the ER's roots will rot.

    Two things you could do to improve planting conditions: First is to plant the trees on a mound of soil so the roots aren't sitting in a 'pond'. You'll need really good, strong stakes, though, until the trees have got well established and won't lean or get blown over. You'll need to keep an eye on watering in summer as well. A thick mulch of organic matter will help protect the young roots through winter.
    Second idea, if you don't want to dig up the EG, is to cut a narrow trench, with a spade, on one side of the hole, to the same depth, which will act as a drain for the excess water. This works best if the garden is on a slight slope, so you can cut it on the lower side. It only needs to be 1"-2" wide, but the longer it is the better, until the water is dispersed away from the hole. Hope this helps. :fingers crossed: for some dry weather!
     
  3. noisette47

    noisette47 Total Gardener

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    P.S. Over here, they plant bare root trees after swilling the roots around in a sloppy, sticky mixture of clay, very well-rotted manure and water. It's amazing what a difference it makes! Not a very pleasant job, unless you're a mud fan, but useful for ensuring good soil contact around the roots :)
     
  4. clanless

    clanless Total Gardener

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    You may just have a high water table - so no amount of drainage is going to be effective - when it rains heavily, your soil will get a good soaking.

    A bit more info. Your dwarf M26 root stock apples will need to be permanently staked. They cannot develop a root system which will keep them anchored in strong winds.

    I'd be tempted to plant them all now and see if they survive - I can't see that there is any benefit to planting in drier weather - if you are water logged now - the water will only return at some point in the future.

    Raised beds would help with keeping the roots away from the water - but you need a fairly dense medium to keep the trees from toppling over.

    Anyway - food for thought :dbgrtmb:.
     
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