Fruit is by far the most requested food group in my gardens. Fruit is delicious, in the store it can be expensive, and often it is highly perishable and covered in pesticides. The Environmental Working Group, a non-profit research group, publishes annually a "Dirty Dozen" list of produce with pesticide residues, 2015's Top Five were:
The next step is purchasing trees from a reputable dealer in Pennsylvania. Next week's insight will be focused on fruit tree selection and reputable nurseries. Trees must be planted while they are dormant to help reduce the risk of shock. Trees do not like to be moved. Trees are dormant until their buds break open in the spring.
Once the soil is limed and the trees delivered, a large hole is dug. The rule of thumb is to dig the hole at least as big as the root system of the tree. Crunching roots into the hole will stunt the tree and possibly kill it. The bud union is placed 2" above the ground line.
I mix compost in with the original soil as I back-fill the hole. Compost is in itself incredible, but in this application it helps to lighten the soil. Once the hole is filled and lightly tamped, the tree must be lightly pruned to compensate for the roots lost during the digging and shipping process.
Finally, ample water must be applied for most of the season to stimulate root growth.
Bitter cold weather is no fun for us to live through, we bundle up, we run our heaters, we stoke our fires and we shiver. As gardeners however we are lucky, this bitter weather is what helps kill off pest insects.
Many insects that bother our plants during the season are living very close to your garden right now. They live under leaf litter or buried under the soil. Long periods of cold helps to freeze these insects, their eggs and their larve. Lower numbers result in less of an issue for the upcoming season. Mild winters result in large populations of pests and damaged crops.
So put on a heavy coat, and be thankful the weather is doing some good for our gardens!