Planning Plantings - Fruit Trees
Greetings everyone! I've enjoyed the site for a short while, especially the pictures! Another Californian moving from a postage stamp to a larger lot in Utah - Highland, east of Micron. We may have been a little overzealous after our first summer here. We ordered five fruit trees for our 1/3 acre lot. Two peach (Burbank Elberta standard, Intrepid standard) two apple (Fuji semi-dwarf and GrandGala semi-dwarf) and a sweet cherry (Blackgold semi-dwarf). To complicate things, the 25 everbearing strawberries also arrived in the same package (not to mention the Valencia orange, but that's potted so I have more time to think about it).
Here's my approach for the impending plantings:
Our backyard is just about wall to wall lawn, which has done relatively well. The back of our home faces south east. South side is divided from neighbors with a 4-5 foot tall row of laurel that had a bad winter. I'm planning on putting the sweet cherry next to an existing sweet cherry (black tartarian - semi dwarf) that we are nursing back to health after some type of leaf curl last year and very little growth. Along that same line will follow the two peaches, each about 8 feet from the laurel line and twenty feet from each other. We wondered if the spacing is a little too generous, but I read 20 foot diameter around all standard trees. As I started digging the first hole, which I should have started long before the trees actually arrived, I started thinking about how hard the soil seems. I removed about 4-6 inches with the sod, then started to till the earth below to loosen it about another 10 inches or so. I'm working on a five foot diameter hole to make sure the roots have somewhere to grow. I'm wondering about keeping it slightly above ground for two reasons: 1. I read somewhere that a Georgia (peaches) study determined that trees did better on soil built up next to a furrow. 2. If I loosen the soil too deep, or perhaps it was amending the soil too much, there's the potential that all moisture would drain into my newly dug hole, which may leave the roots standing in water and the premature demise of the tree.
Right after we moved into the house, Summer 2005, we probably pulled out three or four fruit trees that the prior owner had put in. All were pulled out with essentially no roots and a rotting root ball when we pulled them out. There is the one sweet cherry left, along with a line on the east wall (way too close, about four fee, to a vinyl fence) of apples: Gala semi-dwarf, crabapple -standard?, and golden delicious semi-dwarf. None of them have grown much at all, of course no production (with the exception of a single crabapple). I'm not sure how long ago they were planted, but we've been here two years and seen minimal growth. That's why I want to make sure I get these planted right. We're talking 20+ years of production based on this one planting (fingers crossed!)!
Am I on track? Any additional pointers?