Here in Sonoma County CA, January is the time to plant bare root fruit trees. I didn’t understand that concept at first. OMG, they’re dead, or if they’re not, they will be. Not dead, but dormant. Sleeping. Taking a break,
so it doesn’t matter if the roots are bare. Now I understand. I live in an old house (new to me) in an old neighborhood. Our place was a virtual Secret Garden–ivy, wisteria, morning glories climbing all over the house and six-foot brick walls, creaking wooden gates, unidentifiable shrubs and plants, brick pathways, fountain, leaf-filled pond, an overgrown obscured path to a hidden back gate. From “Oh, the joy of having my own secret garden” to “Oh, the work,” I’ve supervised the removal of nine truckloads of brush, weeds, tree limbs, and other yard waste. And snails! Tens of 100s. I removed a hedge of Simplicity roses and replaced them with 26 nursery gallons of upright rosemary–electric blue, aromatic, and drought tolerant. I love the blue, the texture, the fragrance, and their water frugality–we’re still on a well in town, surprisingly. Getting back to the bare root fruit trees, I’m putting in two, a dwarf Gala apple and dwarf white Babcock peach. That’s all we need on our smaller town lot. Out go more roses to make room for the fruit trees. They’ll be sitting about 10 feet from the sidewalk behind the low rosemary hedge. It’ll be a couple years before they fruit, but I’ve learned to be patient. The two whips of 6′ trees
look rather pathetic right now, but they’re gonna look worse and the neighbors will certainly inquire: I will prune them down to about 24″, paint the short sticks white, and then plant them in full sun, in a mound of rich soil and compost with an irrigation moat all around. This will ensure low scaffold branching, reachable fruit, and dwarf stature. Once they get going, the little trees will be very happy, and so will I when I see those first low branches appear! And then the fruit. The photos are our future fruit. In the meantime, the fruit trees are little white sticks. Will keep you posted.