RevRico UberDork
1/20/19 11:03 p.m.

I'll be honest, cabin fever is getting to me early this season. I've already got my garden seeds ordered and have been getting supplies to prepare for spring since before Christmas. 

And tonights searches have brought me to trees. I live in USDA Ag Zone 6a, which means an average maximum low of -10 to -5F, which I found limiting, but the interwebs have proven otherwise. 

I don't really have experience growing trees. We planted some apple trees when I was a kid, one never fruited, one never produced anything edible, and we put in about 20 hemlocks, but that's the extent of it. 

Many years ago, I was introduced to oaks that had their roots innoculated with truffle spores. That memory clicked tonight, and what do you know? They are supposed to grow great in my climate and I have a perfect hillside to grow them on. I have also found things such as multi-variety apple trees, and a Russian Red Pomegranate that seems to love the region, as well as American native the Paw Paw. 

It's too late and I'm too broke to order anything in this year, but I have found, what I feel are reasonably priced, year old saplings with shipping prices that don't suck, so I'm planning on ordering in a small orchard next year. 

So I am in the planning and preperation phases. My plan for this year is to clear out the maples, sycamores, and oaks that currently reside on a patch of my hillside, and are also getting to be threats to the house based on their size, then prepare a planting area. Mark out where I want things to go, maybe dig holes and prepare soil to cover and winterize before planting next spring. 

Aside from following the directions from the supplier, does anyone have any tips or advice for preparing for saplings, successfully growing fruit trees, winterizing?

I'm going to be clearing out a rather large area, 20x50 or so. The long term plan is to plant in rows, so depending on how things survive the first year, or finally become fruit bearing, I can add more later. I already know it gets plenty of sun due to the density of growth there to begin with. Being on the hillside, they should be very well watered without having standing water. The only thing i should really have to worry about are deer and the few times a year it gets really berkeleying cold. 

Offtopic tangent in my own post, what do we know about foxes? I've been seeing a rather large one around lately. 

1988RedT2 UltimaDork
1/21/19 7:12 a.m.

This two cents isn't doing any good in my pocket.  laugh

Plant in the fall.  Transplant is tough on a sapling, and planting in the fall gives the tree a chance to develop a root system before it faces the demands of putting on leaves.

If you like figs, fig trees will produce fruit after just a few years.  They also tolerate crappy soil.

Be sure to leave enough room between trees.

Bugs and deer like fruit trees.  Be sure to consider ways to manage this.

Fox?  Don't let him in the henhouse!

Streetwiseguy MegaDork
1/21/19 8:40 a.m.

Deer and rabbits will eat the bark of young trees in winter, if they are hungry enough.

That's all I got 

Hasbro SuperDork
1/21/19 10:37 a.m.

Local Ag Extension. Usually there's a local expert there with at least a master's in the industry. They usually will come out and visit your site upon request, something I really enjoyed doing when volunteering as a "Master Gardener". A visit can get you started in the right direction.

I was International Arborist Assoc. certified but don't really consider myself an arborist or horticulturalist any longer but still dabble. You can shoot me any specific questions and I'd be happy to email chat or phone. That offer applies to anyone else on here, also.

1/21/19 11:51 a.m.

Also an Arborist with degree. Hasbro's advice is good.  I've always been involved more in ornamental horticulture than agricultural production although I had/have some experience with fruiting plants including trees. I grew up in New England and my Arborist degree is from Stockbridge School of Agriculture at UMASS Amherst.

I remember back in the 70's apple orchards were sprayed as many as 16 times per year including things like dormant oils in the winter in order to grow grocery store quality fruit. Your extension service can help you to learn what will do well in your area given the amount of effort/expense you're willing to invest. 20' X 50' isn't that big of an area for most full grown trees so depending what you grow you might only have room for as few as 2 trees eventually. I live in S FL now  and took down an Avacado last year that was over 25' wide just so I'd have more room to grow other things I'd rather have. 

Most successful fruit tree orchards in the New England area were on the south side of drumlins. The soil, wind protection, etc. is favorable to the species grown there for production purposes. That said, look around your neighborhood area and see what others are growing. If the plant is comfortable in the location it may be naturalizing by seed propagation and you can get seedlings to start off with for free.  I don't grow hardly any plants from seed because it takes that much longer.

There are fruit tree forums where you can learn a lot and not having money to invest shouldn't stop you from growing. The members on fruit tree forums are like a lot of us here. Someone needs something and we have it without any real need for it we give it away. If you were here in FL I'd give ya Coconut Palms, Plantain, Papaya, Bannana, Mango, Yucca, Pigeon Beans, Star Fruit, Jack Fuit, Sour Sop, Pigeon Beans, or Costa Apples if I have more seedlings and juveniles than I need because like many small growers I over propagate. I have a small nursery in my back yard with a couple thousand plants. Very rarely do I ever buy a plant or spend any money for anything other than Rootone and water. For growers pots I ask landscapers if I can have the ones from plants they're putting in ground and soil is everywhere, the earth is covered with it.

I'll recommend a couple things for you to consider.

Don't zone push with your initial plantings. While it's tempting to grow something you want, it's really disappointing if several years down the road you loose the specimen after years of care before seeing any fruit because it was 2 degrees colder, or cold 10 hours longer, or a cold dry north wind sucked the life out of it. Stick to plants known to thrive in your area not just exist.

Consider starting some plants that will fruit sooner along with your fruit trees. Examples might be high bush & low bush Bluberries, Rasberries, Blackberries, Grapes, strawberries, Cherries, etc. that will give you a return for your labor investment quicker than trees that may need to reach a certain maturity if not grafted on certain rootstock. This


Here's some of my Coconut palms. They look the same as juveniles in the pic but there's a couple different varieties.



RevRico UberDork
1/21/19 11:52 a.m.
1988RedT2 said:


Fox?  Don't let him in the henhouse!

I do find it my typical luck, but also funny, in that I'm going to have chickens this year. We've been in this house 31 years, never even saw a fox until last year when I decided I wanted chickens. Now I've seen 2 hit by cars and the current one running around that's bigger than my old pitbull. 

Has anyone ever tasted a Paw Paw? I didn't know they existed until a couple years back when I saw them in my seed catalog, with a big warning saying you'll be better off buying cuttings from somewhere else. 

Edit now that I saw NOT a TA post above this one:

I'm bringing over some blueberry cuttings from a friends house this spring, and am going to be trying to move my current berry bushes over towards what I want to be the planting area. 25x50 is a rough small estimate, most likely I'll be using an area twice that size. My field is about 100 feet long, and I own 2 to 300 feet up the hill. The only limit for what I'm willing to clear out is how long my chainsaw and woodchipper last. 

This is kind of a combination effort on my part. Part homesteading, part chainsaw work, part trying to stop the downhill part of my yard from being a swamp. By the time the fruit trees are old enough to be producing fruit, my kid will be 9-11 years old, so hopefully her age and curiosity will line up with what daddy is doing, and get her more involved with outdoors type things. 

AngryCorvair MegaDork
1/21/19 12:26 p.m.

be careful of the maples.   they are known to unionize.

1/21/19 2:29 p.m.

If you want to dry up a low lying area you might (depending on other factors) want to plant a Weeping Willow Salix Babylonica. They're found in zones 4-9 IIRC but check for other Weeping Willows you might prefer like the Golden Weeping Willow Salix Alba Tristis thats good zones 3-10. And get used to using Latin names if you're gonna play with plants. Latin's used because it's a dead language so once identified & named the plant name won't change where common names might.

A full grown Salix Babylonica can suck up 200 gallons of water a day IIRC.

Edit: Most Salix are easy to propagate from cuttings so if you decide on one, see if you can find one nearby to get cuttings from. Some Salix are as easy as lopping off a branch and sticking it in your wet area, so possibly no cost. Most folks think of cuttings as little things you put in a 4-6" pot but not necessarily always the case. Do a little research on propagating the particular variety if you decide on one.  Might be able to stick a 3" diameter limb in the ground to get a big head start on growing a tree saving you years. Since you're a chain saw kinda guy, don't be aftraid to plant something like a Salix to dry up an area a bit while you get other stuff going and then cut it down once it's usefulness is over and before it becomes a liability.

RevRico UberDork
1/21/19 2:47 p.m.

 is currently single digits before the wind chill, so I'm working with satellite pictures.

Everything to the right of the yellow lines, with the exception of the carport itself, should just be considered swamp. Even now, after 2 days of single digits, walking in that area will sink you to at least your ankle. I have considered willows there before, and may still in the future. It's hard to see, but there is a stream that runs parallel to that property line on the right edge(looking closer the stream isn't in the picture). Between the stream and runoff from the hill, I suspect I could grow several willows. 

the orange line shows what I know to be 65 feet. So from that scale , 125-150 feet sounds reasonable for length of the field. That's 6 to 7 trees long, and I can go up the hill as far as I really want to, which for now is two to three rows.  The growth density isn't great in the picture because it was a fall day, but come summer time, is a wall of wood and vines. Just from as healthy as everything is there, I'm assuming it's all good to grow stuff I actually want. I'm kind of hoping younger, stronger growing plants will help prevent some of the water from getting to the swamp at the bottom of the yard. 

we actually considered cranberries in the low lying parts, but that seems like a lot more work than I want to do. 

honestly, I've never liked landscaping. I hate ornamental plants. If I'm putting in the time and effort, I want something back from it, whether that's a privacy fence or food. So this is fairly out of character for me to want to pretty things up, but I'm resigning myself to being stuck at this property so I want to make the best of it. 

I will call county ag come spring time, and get some soil samples sent out to know exactly what I'm dealing with, just trying to get some opinions and maybe some options I haven't considered. 

1/21/19 3:20 p.m.

I'd call the extension service as soon as the Gubment gets it's E36M3 together and is back to work. If you do your prep work now while they're not as busy you won't be waiting on soil sample results etc. in spring during the "rush".  If you can cut the trees now-early spring before the leaves come out that'll make your work easier also even if you just cut the area and go back whenever you have time to cut the wood to lengths and chip the branches.

Cranberries are some work, why I didn't recommend. It is cool to see the production fields being flooded during harvesting though.

Wally MegaDork
1/21/19 3:44 p.m.

When I bought the compound I got a flyer in the mail form our local ag extension.  They were very helpful and sold me some inexpensive seedlings to get me started. It was a big help for a transplanted city boy and I’ve started to get a nice little row of blue spruces along the edge of my swamp.

Our Preferred Partners