You know how you go to the garden center totally not to buy plants but somehow one gets into your cart anyway? Crazy, right? That very thing happened to me last week. There I was, minding my own business when I noticed a Desert Gold semi-dwarf peach tree at 50% off the original price. What was I supposed to do? Just leave it there? Into the trunk of the Prius it went.
The Desert Gold is a great choice for the high desert. It’s drought tolerant, doesn’t mind a hard freeze and tolerates our intense sun. As a semi-dwarf tree, it will only grow to about 8 feet tall. It won’t overpower the rest of the garden. Plus… peaches!
I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve done a poor job with fruit trees in the past. I just dug a hole and plopped the poor thing into our might-as-well-be-solid-rock soil, gave it some water and called it done. It worked out as well as you can imagine. Death, despair, and sadness.
So, I consulted the oracles. Not really. I read the tree planting section of “Down to Earth”, written by a local master gardener and followed their instructions.
First, dig the hole. Frank isn’t kidding around when he digs a hole. Technically, it should be 1 1/2 times the size of the root ball but since we’re going to do companion planting, our hole is pretty big.
Then, gently remove the tree from its container and break up the root ball. This is important because it will give the roots more space for growth.
Fill the hole with the soil that you removed. Be sure to avoid covering the root collar. This is the bit of trunk just above the root. You should be able to see the place where the trunk becomes the root.
It’s not advised to amend the soil. The roots are going to grow past the amendment and will have to contend with the soil it’s got. Don’t baby it now and it will thank you later. However, do add 2-4 inches of mulch around the tree to keep the moisture in. Firm up the soil around the root ball and give it a nice, deep water.
Fingers crossed this will give our little tree a good start. We planted Cardinal and Rocky Mountain Penstamens as well as some Silver Lupins. If I have some time this week, I’ll transplant our asparagus to this bed as well.