Planting Fruit Trees

Fall is the best time to plant fruit trees – planting in very late summer or early Fall gives the trees time to settle in before the winter cold sets in. Here’s how we got started with fruit trees on our homestead. Now, about four years later, our trees are loaded each year and we really enjoy a good Apple harvest!

One year, just after Christmas I got a phone call from the local real estate office. They do a Christmas present drive to help out kids in the area have a better Christmas.

Every year, we buy a couple of kids presents and drop them off at the real estate office. They turn around and deliver the gifts to kids who otherwise might not have much under their Christmas tree.

As a bonus, for each present you drop off you can put your name in for draws. The prizes come from local vendors.

I got a call saying I had won a $100 gift certificate for one of the local nurseries. I was thrilled and began to think of the possibility of getting one or two fruit trees.


apple trees, fruit trees


We went out and talked to the nursery and here is what I ended up bringing home. Two apple trees that ended up costing me a total of $40, because I used the $100 gift certificate.

The knowledgable fellow at the nursery suggested these trees – there are 4 different kind of apples on each tree. And the tree is hardy to this area (which is something that is very important here where the Winters can get so cold).


apple tree, fruit tree


I don’t remember what the different apple varieties are, although each branch is labelled. Suffice it to say that if we treat these trees well, we should have a good bounty of different apples.


planting fruit trees, apples trees


So, in the Fall we got them planted. That hole in the above picture may not look very big or deep, but it is. It is easily 2 times the width and depth of the fruit tree itself. This is a very important step.

Prepare your hole well! You only get one chance at it – make sure you dig a deep and wide hole!

You can see that the natural soil here is clay, just by looking at the picture.


fruit tree, apple tree, planting fruit trees


This picture above gives a better idea of just how deep that hole is. I have added lots of very well composted manure already. Then I set the tree in the hole and stand back. I am trying to determine whether I have

a) dug the hole deep enough

b) added a deep enough layer of manure

This is very important – you want the tree to sit at the same level as it was sitting in the pot.

The picture is a bit deceiving – don’t look at the top of the pot – look at the trunk of the fruit tree. It is at a good level here for planting.


bone meal, planting fruit trees, apple trees


I removed the fruit tree from the hole and put in 3 good handfuls of Bonemeal. You only get once chance to fortify the hole, make sure you do this before setting your tree in the ground.


planting fruit trees, scoring fruit tree roots


I’ve taken the Apple tree out of the pot – can you see how rootbound it is? I never just plop plants in the hole like this, as usually the plant is rootbound. I like to either loosen up the rootball by prying it apart with my fingers or using a shovel, like I did with this Apple tree.

I score the rootball all the way around. What I want is for the roots to be free, it is OK to slice them with your shovel. This way, once planted the roots will begin to spread and grow.


how to plant fruit trees, apple trees


Finally, in goes the fruit tree. I then backfill the hole with more well composted manure. This apple tree is already staked and we will leave the stakes in for at least a year.

After the backfilling, I make a “well” so that any water the tree gets will not run off. In the past I have obviously watered fruit trees too much. The nursery fellow told me to water it when I first plant it. Then water it once a week if the weather is very hot. If there is some rain, water the tree once every two weeks.

Letting the tree roots dry out between watering will encourage it to send out feeder roots. It will become settled in faster and grow better.

The finishing step is to put a palmful of tree and shrub fertilizer around the base of the tree. Normally, we don’t use fertilizers of any kind here, except for the composted manure. With these trees, I was advised to use some and I think that is a good idea.

Hopefully these two Apple trees will contribute nicely to the other fruits we grow here, including Raspberries, Strawberries, Rhubarb, Saskatoon berries and Blueberries! It’s great that we don’t have to buy fruit at the Grocery Store! Consider planting a fruit tree or two today!



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  1. avatar Lynda says:

    Wonderful post! Lucky you winning the gift certificate! This Spring my son gave me a cherry tree, apple tree and a fruit cocktail tree…they each had 5 different varieties grafted to their trunks…they are really doing great….I was really surprised. I had never heard of such a thing. I guess there’s no excuse for folks not planting a fruit *orchard* with these *new* trees!

    • avatar Annie says:

      A fruit cocktail tree Lynda? I have never heard of that. What kind of fruit is on it.

      I think these grafted trees are great!

  2. How long before you will have fruit? I know on a lot of fruit trees they have to be established for a couple of years before they produce.

    Pamela Jo

    • avatar Annie says:

      Pamela Jo, I think these trees are 3 years old, but can’t guarantee that. Anyway, there were lots of blossoms on the trees when we bought them and so far I can see two little tiny apples (and I mean TINY). Hope we get some fruit this year.

  3. You did a super job of planting the trees. I would have never thought of manure. Also, I’ve never heard of an apple tree with different kinds of apples growing on one tree. Sounds like you won’t be buying fruits anymore.

    • avatar Annie says:

      Well composted manure is all we use here. Well, sometimes we add leaves after they fall. It’s manure and green manure (cover crops) that work so well. Try it…look under the Read About section on the main page.

  4. avatar Karen says:

    We have an apple tree in our yard & were able to harvest apples for the first time this year…seven of them. There were eight, but a critter got to one. Love being able to go out back and ‘shop’ for food! :>

    • avatar Annie says:

      That’s great Karen – what kind of apples are they?