Moms

Now's the time to plant fruit and nut trees

Fruit and nut trees

If you have ever wanted a fruit or nut tree, now is the time to plant one. Planting now will ensure the best selection and help the tree grow roots before the heat of summer. The best fruit and nuts grown in this area are peaches, pears, plums, apples (in sandy soil), figs, pomegranates, persimmons, jujubes, blackberries, strawberries (as annuals), pecans, black walnut and satsuma mandarin orange (grow in containers because they require protection if the temperature drops below 25 degrees).

Plant what you like to eat. Do not expect a huge crop the first few years. The crops grow larger as the tree grows. Plant the trees in full sun in an area that has good drainage. Fruit and nut trees do not like wet roots. Study the varieties for taste and insect- and disease-resistance, but also consider size. A pecan tree lives for 100-plus years and has the potential to grow 80 feet tall and 40 feet wide. A peach tree produces for 15-plus years and is easy to maintain at 8 feet tall and 15 feet wide.

Container-grown trees grow in the container from seedling to tree. They are easy to purchase, transport and plant. Plant your fruit tree in a shallow, wide hole. Do not cultivate the soil below the roots -- this can cause the tree to sink into the hole as the soil settles. Fill the hole with the soil you removed minus any debris and rocks. Add a small amount of compost and expanded shale if you have heavy clay soil. Water the soil thoroughly to remove air and settle the soil. Maintain a 3-inch layer of bark mulch around the tree to control moisture, soil temperature and weeds. Widen the mulch layer out to the drip line as the tree grows. Keep bark mulch off the trunk and mowers and string trimmers from hitting the trunk. For the first growing season, water the tree by placing a slow-dripping hose near the trunk, or use a soaker hose or drip irrigation. As the tree grows a good root system and canopy, increase the area irrigated by soaker hose and drip. For more information about fruit trees, go to aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/lawn_garden/fruit_nut.html.

-- Dotty Woodson, Special to the Star-Telegram

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