As the weather turns a little colder and we move into winter, there’s not much going on in the garden right now. But did you know that it’s a great time to get out and plant a tree?
National Tree Week is the UK’s largest annual tree celebration, marking the start of the winter tree planting season (Nov to March each year) Here’s a post from 2017, when me and my Dad planted a small apple tree, to go in the top bit of the garden.
Why would you plant an apple tree in the winter?
Well, the tree we chose was a ‘bare rooted apple tree’, which is dormant in winter, i.e. not growing – like its asleep. The apple variety we chose was a Pitmaston Pineapple – we chose this because it’s got a nice sweet taste. My Mum and Dad went on a grafting course once and the instructor chose varieties that are OK to grow in the north and the Pitmaston Pineapple was one he recommended. Our tree came from North Yorkshire growers, R V Rogers and we thought, well, if they grow it in North Yorkshire it should grow well in North Manchester !! During the planting, I also learnt a bit about root stocks, grafting and the different varieties.
Pitmaston Pineapple Originated in 1785 from Herefordshire, UK
Description: An extremely old and unusual variety for the pomological connoisseur! Raised in 1785 in Herefordshire, this produces small golden yellow fruit with an intense flavour, sweet yet sharp, rich, nutty and with hints of honey and pineapple. Upright growth which isn’t too vigorous, so suitable for a smaller garden. Cropping can be irregular, but it is most definitely worth the wait.
Despite the rain, we wanted to crack on with planting it as it had arrived a few days earlier and a bare rooted tree should be planted as soon as possible, to avoid the roots drying out (we had soaked them beforehand).
Me and my Dad prepared the ground; we dug a big hole and came across a few problems, including a very large tree root and some big pieces of stone. Once it felt the right size, we mixed soil, compost and some bonemeal, which is good for the roots.
We used a spirit level and lay it across the hole to ensure that the planting depth is correct. You need to plant the tree at the depth it had been planted at previously, with the roots just below the surface and the graft well above the surface.
We then refilled the hole with the planting mixture, making sure it stayed up straight, completely burying its roots.
Then we firmed it down to make it sturdy; ideally it needs staking, which you would do whilst you’re planting it, so you don’t damage the roots. But we did this a few days later, ‘cos we didn’t have one at the time. The tree should be well watered immediately after planting, but seeing as it was chucking it down, the rain did that for us!
Nothing changes – I still find it fun to ‘muck about in water’
I’m looking forward to watching the tree grow over this coming years, for the fruit it will produce and the wildlife it will attract.
I hope this blog inspires you to consider planting a tree, especially a fruit one !