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Monthly Archives: June 2016

Planting Blackberries Trees

Planning

  • Choose virus-free plants.
  • Plan a training system to match the growth habit of your variety – either upright or trailing.
  • Plant in early spring in most areas; in mild-winter areas of the South and Pacific Coast, plant in fall or winter.

Preparation

  • Choose a well-drained site in full sun at least 300 feet from any wild blackberries.
  • Construct trellises for trailing varieties before planting.

Planting

  • Plant upright varieties at 3-foot intervals in rows 8 feet apart. Set trailing varieties 5 to 8 feet apart in rows 6 to 10 feet apart.
  • Set plants 1 inch deeper than they were grown in the nursery.

Care

  • Cultivate shallowly; the roots are near the surface.
  • Mulch with a thick layer of shredded bark, wood chips, leaves, or hay.
  • Plants usually don’t require pruning the first year. Prune out fruiting canes as soon as berries are harvested each summer, and select replacement canes for the following year.
  • Fertilize early each spring with 1/2 to 3/4 cup of a complete fertilizer such as 5-10-10 or 8-8-8 per plant. Sprinkle it in a band 12 to 24 inches from canes and hoe it lightly into the soil.
  • To prevent chilling injury in the winter, lay the canes of trailing types on the ground in winter and cover with a thick layer of mulch.

Harvesting

  • Berries should be harvested every 2 to 4 days when ripe.
  • Pick berries in the cool of early morning. Refrigerate berries immediately after harvesting.

Blackberries need full sun. They aren’t fussy about soils, although good drainage is important. If the soil has a good amount of humus, so much the better, but average fertility is all they need. Do not plant blackberries where any other brambles have been growing; diseases can build up over time and one of the easiest ways to avoid problems is to start fresh on a new site. Because wild blackberries and raspberries can harbor diseases and pests, try to keep your garden plants at least 300 feet from any wild relatives. Also avoid planting where any nightshade family members – tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, peppers – grew in the last 2 years, as they can transmit verticillium wilt to blackberry plants.

Planting Particulars

Plants should be set out in early spring. If you get your plants from a mail-order company, order them at least a month or two before planting time and indicate the week you’d like the plants to arrive. If you can’t plant the day they arrive, keep plants, well wrapped, in a cool place. If they are loose and unpacked, set them temporarily in a shallow trench at the edge of the garden and fill it with soil so the roots don’t dry out. Nursery plants may have a 6- or 8-inch dormant cane extending from the root ball. You can use it as a handle in moving the plants and later as a row marker. Set the plants in the ground 1 inch deeper than they were grown in the nursery, then firm moist soil around the roots.

Plant upright varieties at least 3 feet apart in the row, with 8 feet between rows. For trailing types, allow 5 to 8 feet between plants and 6 to 10 feet between rows. The plants are relatively drought tolerant, but they’ll need a steady supply of water to get them established. In the second and subsequent years, plants need 1 to 2 inches of water per week during fruit development, especially if the weather turns dry and windy, a bit less once the crop is harvested. Drip irrigation is a good watering method for blackberries.

 

Planting Apricot Trees

Planning

  • Plant new trees in early spring, fall planting in mild areas can be successful if trees are dormant.
  • Buy dormant, bare-root, 1-year-old trees, if possible.
  • Although most varieties are self-fertile, fruit set is better when planted with one or two other varieties nearby. Trees will start bearing in the third or fourth season.
  • Expect 3 to 4 bushels of fruit from a standard-size tree, 1 to 2 from a dwarf variety.

Preparation

  • Choose a site in full sun. Northern growers should put trees on the north side of a building so trees warm up as late as possible in the spring. Apricot trees do well in a wide range of well-drained soils.

 Planting

  • Space standard-size trees about 25 feet apart; plant genetic dwarfs 8 to 12 feet apart.
  • When planting apricots, choose a site in full sun. In cold climates, set trees on the north side of a building, so that trees will warm up later in the spring and blossoms will be delayed until the danger of frost has passed. Apricots are not very particular about soil type as long as it is well drained.
  • Place your tree in the hole and spread the roots carefully. Apricot trees need to be watered slowly and deeply, out past the root zone. This means irrigating so the water penetrates about three feet deep and as wide as the tree’s canopy. Deep watering helps trees survive drought and assists with fruit sizing during late April and May. Mulch around the trees to retain moisture and keep grass down.

Care

  • Apply a small amount of nitrogen fertilizer each spring. Where apricots are easily grown, train to an open center. For colder areas use a modified central leader.
  • Prune bearing trees annually to encourage new fruiting spurs.
  • When fruits are 1 inch in diameter, thin to 3 to 4 fruits per cluster to increase the size of remaining apricots and prevent over bearing one year, little the next.
  • See our article Fruit Pests and Diseases for controls of common apricot pests such as codling moths, peach tree borers, plum curculios, and brown rot disease.

Harvesting

  • Harvesting peaks in July in mild areas and in August in colder ones. The picking season is short.
  • Pick when fruits are fully colored and skin gives slightly when pressed.

Planting Apple Trees

Planning

  • Select resistant varieties to minimize apple scab and other disease problems.
  • Apple trees are not self-fertile; plant at least one other variety that blooms at the same time. Flowering crab apples that bloom at the same time will also pollinate apples.
  • Spring planting is recommended in central and northern areas. Where fall and winter weather is generally mild and moist, fall planting is successful.
  • Buy dormant, bare-root, 1-year-old trees, if possible. Dwarfs and semi-dwarfs will bear in 3 to 4 years, yielding 1 to 2 bushels per year. Standard-size trees will start to bear in 4 to 8 years, yielding 4 to 5 bushels of apples.

Preparation

  • Choose a site with full sun, moderate fertility, and good air circulation and water drainage.
  • Apples will tolerate a wide range of soil types.

Planting

  • When planting trees on dwarfing and semi-dwarfing rootstocks, be sure the graft union stays at least 1 inch above ground.
  • Space standard trees 30 to 35 feet apart, semi-dwarfs 20 to 25 feet apart, and dwarf trees 15 to 20 feet apart.
  • Surround each tree with a mouse guard before filling the hole completely.
  • Water, prune, and mulch young trees right after planting.

Care

  • Water young trees regularly, especially those on semi-dwarfing or dwarfing rootstocks, to ensure that the root system becomes well established.
  • Renew the mulch periodically, but pull it away from the tree in the fall so mice don’t nest over the winter and eat the bark.
  • Begin training trees to their permanent framework in the first season.
  • Prune bearing trees annually.
  • See our article Fruit Pests and Diseases for controls of common apple pests such as apple maggot, plum curculio, green fruitworm, codling moth, fire blight, and powdery mildew.
  • The harvest season ranges from midsummer to late fall, depending on the variety.
  • To avoid pulling out the stem when you harvest, cup the apple in your hand, tilt it upward, and twist to separate it from the spur at the point of attachment.

Choose a site with full sun, moderate fertility, and good air circulation and water drainage. Apple trees will tolerate a wide range of soil conditions. While you can improve your soil with fertilizer and mulch, other factors — full sun, good water drainage, the right varieties, and loving care — will go a long way toward overcoming less-than-perfect soil.

Planting Particulars

In the North, plant as early in the spring as possible. In the South where fall and winter weather is moist and mild, fall planting works well; it gives the roots a good headstart on spring.

Dig a hole a foot wider and a foot deeper than the root ball, then partially fill it with topsoil or compost. Space standard trees 30 to 35 feet apart, semidwarfs 20 to 25 feet apart, and dwarfs 15 to 20 feet apart. Pound in a stake on the downwind side for support. Support is not essential for semidwarfs, but it is still a good idea for the first few years.

Place your tree in the hole and spread the roots carefully. With dwarf or semi-dwarf trees that have only one graft, make sure that the graft union (a small swelling near the base of the trunk) remains at least 1 inch above ground, or the upper variety will take root and override the desired influence of the rootstock.

Deep planting of both rootstock-dwarfed and interstem-dwarfed trees results in better tree anchorage and fewer suckers growing up from the roots. However, planting trees much deeper than they grew in the nursery can increase problems with crown rot. With interstem varieties, the interstem section should be half above and half below the ground.

Before you fill the hole, place a mouse guard around the trunk to extend about 10 inches or so above the ground. Water your fledglings thoroughly. Then mulch with clean straw or some other weed-free organic material to keep the moist and to control weeds.