My trees are here!! I am so excited!! $55 into my $300 budget, and hopefully worth it!! So far I have spent $70 on roots, bulbs, a bag of gardening soil, fertilizer spikes, and seeds. Bluestone didn’t charge me for my $15 order until it shipped, so that leaves me with a total of $140 spent. I have $160 left in the budget, and with most of my spring planting essentially done, I don’t see me dipping into that amount until its time to plant tulip bulbs in the fall.
Hubby was doing some yard work and came through the back door with this long, thin cardboard box. I knew what to expect since this is what I received last year. Tiger boy immediately got to work pulling the tape off by hand. He eventually decided to get himself a pair of blunt scissors from his craft box. I don’t know if he remembers doing this last year, but he was nonplussed when he opened the box to “a bunch of sticks,” as my husband put it.
You can see that the “sticks” are wrapped in brown paper. Under that paper, the tops of the trees are bound together with a twist tie, and the roots are thoroughly covered in a hydrating gel and wrapped in plastic. They are also bound together very tightly to minimize drying.
The Orange paper in the middle is an envelope that states “Open Immediately.” Naturally I did this (Tiger boy is a protocol man, so I as long as he was helping out, I didn’t really have any other option). The contents were a return envelope, an order sheet, the “Tree book” (its basically a catalogue), a double sided pamphlet explaining the benefits to bareroot, and the specifications of a dormant trees, a “thank you for supporting arbor day” insert, another letter, and my order form.
The “dormant trees” pamphlet was my first go-to. I had Tiger boy read it so he could better understand what we were about to do and why (he is such an eager student, and a voracious reader), while I ran to get a large bucket in which to soak the tree roots.
Dormant trees, unlike live mail order plants, don’t need to be kept out of the sun to prevent shock, but they do require an extended period of soaking. This is to rehydrate the roots and prepare the trees for “waking up.” They also need that time to allow the gel to dissolve completely so the roots can actually access the water. The gel is hydrating in and of itself, but it is also water repelling, so it needs to be completely removed prior to planting. I didn’t remember the use of recycled paper and fabric pulp around the gel with my last order, but it looks like that is also present as extra insulation during shipment to further prevent loss of water through condensation.
My first step was to fill a 5 gal bucket about 3/4 full of water. After which, I removed the twine that held the plastic together, removed the plastic, and set the bundle in the bucket of water.
I then worked to remove the twine from the roots themselves, removed the twist tie at the top of the bundle, and
briefly removed the bundle from the water to separate the roots before placing them back (I prefer to remove most of the twine while the roots are soaking to minimize exposure to air).
Tiger boy had fun helping me through this process. He tried to cut the twine himself . . . still doesn’t quite have the fine motor strength for that. But I love it that he tried-that’s what I want, a self-motivated worker! What mom wants to spend her time nagging her kids for help? I’d rather he showed up already excited and full of initiative.
At this point we were done. The pamphlet advised a 3-6 hour soak. We had finished the process at 3:00 pm. There was nothing else we could do but wait another 3 hours until the trees were ready. By that time, Tiger boy was watching some documentary and advised me that he was “bored with gardening” and would not be planting anything else that day . . . so the initiative was a little short lived, but it’s a work in progress. Not every 5 year old wants to help mom in the garden!
I couldn’t remember what I purchased, so it helps that The Arbor day Foundation has labels attached to the stems. There were the 2 free forsythia (about 18” each), the free maple (3′), and finally the Dwarf trees I intentionally ordered-Peach “Belle of Georgia” (self-pollinating), Cherry “Bing”, Cherry “Black Tartarian” (they need to cross pollinate in order to bear fruit), and Plum “Methley” (also self-pollinating).
While we were waiting for the trees to rehydrate, I measured where I wanted the trees, spray painted the remaining designating circles, and had hubby dig the holes for me (I’m 22 weeks pregnant, digging is kind of out of the question right now). He wasn’t too thrilled with it, but he did it anyway.
The Dwarf Cherries were going to go near the back of the house, eventually hiding the A/C unit. The shorter Peach and Plum trees, were perfect for the Forsythia corner because that is also where the power lines are, and they don’t grow any higher than 10ft. I don’t want to buy a fruit tree that will be topped off by the power company the second it reaches mature height. Since the Dwarf Cherries can reach a maximum height of 15 ft, this was not an ideal spot for them.
We had a get-together with a neighbor down the street, so I hastily finished planting, and took the following pictures the next day:
She’s difficult to see, but here is my Georgia Peach. She has a lovely green tinge to her bark, something I should get a picture of later. I have a feeling she will be the first to “wake up” and bud out. I placed her by the fence between myself and my next door neighbor.
Next is the Methley Plum. This little guy was the smallest of the bunch, and was placed right by the back fence. My husband is always telling me he feels like he is “in a fishbowl,” because our house is on a bit of a hill, and it backs up against a cup-de-sac. Our only privacy comes from a bush planted right in the middle of our fence line. When this little guy is more mature, I suspect my husband will feel a little less “exposed.”
The two concrete forms house the Cherry trees “Bing”, and “Black Tartarian”, both sweet cherries. They are difficult to see right now because they have no leaves, but once they leaf out in about three weeks, I will have a better idea of what they look like.
Surprisingly, this lot actually came with a lot more branches than last years trees. The Crabapples I received last year have now grown the same amount of branches these trees arrived with. In a sense, it feels as if they were ordered at the same time. I expect they will all reach their mature height around the same period of time-roughly 3-5 years. I’ve never waited so long for fruit before.
Oh, right, and about that maple . . . I may have accidentally left her in the bucket for two days before emergently transplanting her into a large pot. If she survives, she will be a house warming gift for a friend who wants to purchase her first home.
If she doesn’t, she will likely become a horsewhip in the hands of one of my boys . . .