- Author: Ed Perry
Citrus trees grow best in loam or sandy loam soil, but you can grow them in most soils that have good drainage. If your soil drains poorly, you might try planting in a raised bed or on a mound. Plant your trees in an area that receives full sun, and allow enough room for the tree's mature size. I don't recommend planting in a lawn area because it's difficult to irrigate both the citrus and the lawn correctly. Also, the grass tends to absorb many of the nutrients needed by the tree.
Dig the planting hole just deep enough to plant the tree at the same level that it was in the nursery. The diameter of the hole should be about 6 inches larger than the root ball. If the hole is too deep, the tree will settle too much after planting. Trees that settle too deep are likely to be killed by crown rot, a fungus disease that frequently develops where the soil covers the bark of the tree.
You can place balled and burlap-wrapped trees in the planting holes without removing the cloth sacking that covers the roots. Plant them a little higher than they were in the nursery, allowing about 3 inches for settling. Try to have the uppermost roots branch out at about ground level after the trees have settled.
Do not put any fertilizer in the hole when planting your tree because it may damage the roots. It's safer to apply fertilizer to the surface of the soil after you've planted. If you use manure, use it lightly because roots may be damaged by salts which manures contain.
Citrus trees do very poorly in dry soil, so be sure to pay close attention to irrigation, especially during the first summer.
Ed Perry is the emeritus Environmental Horticultural Advisor for University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) in Stanislaus County where he worked for over 30 years.
- Author: Terry Pellegrini
Planning your garden now, I feel, will save you headaches and money, come spring. By taking the time to understand how much space you have (or don't have), whether or not you wish to plant directly in ground or containers, or a combination thereof, and what types of plants grow best in your area, you'll only purchase what you need. In addition, you can decide whether or not you wish to devote the time to starting your seeds indoors or in a greenhouse, plant the seeds directly in the garden beds, or if transplants are the way you wish to go.
If you are thinking of planting spring veggies, take under consideration what you and your family will actually eat. If the kids detest string beans, then planting a huge area full of them is probably not a good use of the space, your time, or money. However, if zucchini is something you eat frequently, then two mounds may serve you better than one.
Now is also a good time to get control of any weeds in your proposed planting areas. Removing any weeds now, before the weather gets warmer and they decide to seed, means less work for you come spring and summer. I like to get down, move the soil with a trowel, and pull out any stray roots or seeds that I see. You may even find grubs and larvae of Hoplia beetles that you can remove, saving your precious roses and flowers this spring.
Many of us reuse our favorite pots and containers year after year. As such, these pots will need some TLC and prep as well. All the old soil will need to be removed and the pot cleaned with a solution of one-part bleach to nine parts water. Submerge in solution and soak for at least 10 minutes. This sterilizes them, removing any insects or diseases from the previous plant in the pot.
Planning and prepping your garden now for your spring planting will give you that head start to a successful, satisfying, and fun gardening adventure. So, get out your seed catalogs, notebook, and take a walk in your yard or garden space, and imagine all the possibilities. Happy Gardening!
- Author: Ed Perry
For gardeners the coming of winter means, among many other things, the beginning of the bare root planting season. Local nurseries will soon receive good supplies of bare root fruit and ornamental trees, roses, grapes, berries, and vegetables such as asparagus and rhubarb. Unlike container plants, bare root plants are dug from the field when dormant and separated from the soil. This allows the nursery grower to ship plants at a lower cost and means a good saving for the buyer.
Since all the soil has been removed from the roots, take care to prevent them from drying out while you transport the tree or dig the planting hole. Never allow the plant roots to be exposed to sun and wind for more than just a few minutes. You can protect the roots for a few hours by placing them in a moist plastic bag or by covering them with wet newspaper or cloth. It's best to plant and water your bare root trees right away. If you need to delay planting for a day or more, you should “heel in” the plants. “Heeling in” is a method of protecting plant roots by placing the plants into a hole or shallow trench and covering the roots with moist soil, sand or sawdust.
You should consider trees, shrubs and other perennial plants to be long term investments. It's therefore worth the effort to pick the proper place for the plant. Fruit trees especially need full sun to produce properly, as well as room to grow. Most standard fruit trees can be planted 10 to 15 feet apart, or much closer if you are willing to spend time doing heavy pruning and careful training each year. Semi-dwarf fruit trees are good choices for a garden with limited space. It is not a good idea to plant a fruit tree in a lawn area, as the lawn's water requirements are not compatible with those of the tree. Fruit trees growing in lawns often grow poorly or are killed by shallow, frequent lawn irrigation.
Fruit trees prefer well drained soils at least 3 or 4 feet deep but will grow in shallower soils if you water carefully. Plant your tree when the soil is moist enough to dig easily. Do not plant in wet, sticky soil. The planting hole should be 2 to 3 times wider than the root spread, but only deep enough to plant the tree at the same level as it grew in the nursery. A tree planted in a deep hole will settle too much after watering. When this happens the tree is often attacked by a soil borne fungus disease where the soil contacts the trunk.
Before you plant the tree, carefully cut off broken or badly damaged roots with sharp pruning shears. Do not prune the roots to fit the hole. If necessary, put soil in the bottom of the hole so that the tree is slightly higher than the soil line. This will allow the tree to settle slightly without becoming buried. Using the same soil that came out of the hole, carefully cover the roots completely, then water thoroughly to settle the soil around the roots. You may want to complete the planting job by placing a mulch on the ground around the tree to help control weeds and conserve moisture.
For more information on care of your newly planted bare root fruit trees, berries, grapes, and roses, visit The California Backyard Orchard.
- Author: Anne E Schellman
On Saturday, attendees joined the UCCE Master Gardeners to learn all about trees. The workshop included a presentation on the importance of selecting the right tree for your landscape, and how to correctly plant and prune it. Here is a short description of what they learned that you can apply to your landscape.
Importance of Tree Selection:
When choosing a tree, you want to select one that has the size and characteristics suitable for your site. A well-chosen tree can save up to 15% in energy costs. And, a tree in front of a home can increase the appraised value* of a home by over $7,000!
However, if you select the wrong-size tree for your landscape, you could end up with problems such as:
· A tree that grows into a power line
· A large tree growing too close to your house
· Aggressive roots that are difficult to garden under or break up pavement
· Fruit or flowers that drop onto pavement
Importance of Planting:
Correctly planting a tree helps it get off to the right start so it can thrive for years to come. Often people bury the root ball (area of soil and roots) of trees too deeply. This makes the tree more susceptible to soil-borne diseases.
Importance of Pruning:
The first few years of a tree's life are the ideal time to prune and train a tree. Your tree should have a good structure that includes a single central leader and branches that are well spaced around the trunk. Untrained trees have a greater chance of developing limbs that break away from the tree, especially during storms or windy days.
To Stake or Not to Stake:
In most situations, it's not necessary to stake a tree. When you purchase a tree, the first thing you need to do is remove the nursery stake.
If you couldn't attend our workshop, you can pick up a free copy of our publication, Trees in Your Home Landscape, or download it from our Gardening Publications website. Also, if you stop by, be sure to ask for a set of tree care cards, which are also free.
*according to the Pacific Northwest Research Station http://www.itreetools.org/news/articles/PNW_scifi126_Sept2010.pdf