Early spring is the best time to plant fruit trees. Plant as soon as you can after the soil has thawed and drained enough to work without destroying its structure and before your nursery stock starts to break bud and leaf out. It is best to prepare the soil the year before planting. See the section "Before You Begin" (page 1) for detailed instructions.

Before you plant trees, trim off broken or injured roots. Do not let the roots dry out. Plants can die if roots are exposed to sun and wind. You may want to soak the roots in a pail of clean, cool water for 6 to 12 hours before planting.

"Heel in" young trees if you can't plant them immediately.

Dig planting holes large enough to accommodate the tree roots in their natural position. Put aside the topsoil so you can replace it after planting. Don't skimp on the digging and preparation of the planting hole. Your tree has a much better chance of surviving and thriving if you do a good job.

Don't plant a 10-dollar tree in a

Plant rootstocks with the graft union about 2 inches above ground level. If the graft union is below the soil line, roots may develop on the base of the scion cultivar (upper portion of the graft), which results in the loss of the 10-cent hole.

effect of the rootstock. -

Carefully spread the roots out over loose soil in the bottom of the hole. Move the tree up and down slightly as you spread the first few shovels of topsoil back on top of the roots. This helps to settle the soil under and around the roots and gets rid of air spaces. Tamp the soil firmly while filling the hole.

Water trees immediately after planting and water at weekly intervals for four to five weeks unless rainfall is adequate. Do not mix dry fertilizer with the soil used to fill the hole. It can damage the tender new roots. Add 1 table-spoonful of starter solution (high-analysis, water-soluble fertilizer similar to 20-20-20) to 1 gallon of water and apply this solution to the soil around each tree immediately after planting.

The root system of M.9 rootstock is brittle, and trees on this stock may tip over when the tops become large enough to catch a strong wind. These trees need the support of a stake, post, trellis, or fence. (You may want to stake other trees as well, especially on exposed sites.) A i-inch-diameter metal electrical conduit pipe makes an ideal support. These are 10 feet long and are easy to pound into the ground. Place the post about 4 inches from the trunk and about 2 feet into the soil. Secure the tree to the post with several strong, durable ties. Specially made tree ties or a heavy wire covered by a section of garden hose work well. Always be certain when tying trees or branches to posts or other supports that the tie is loose enough to prevent binding or girdling as the trunk grows.

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