It is entirely reasonable to name one’s chickens, entirely infeasible to name one’s bees, and entirely silly to name one’s trees. Nonetheless, today we planted a quince tree in the orchard site and named it. We have eighteen fruit trees ready for planting out, but a shortage of hard labour needed to remove turf and dig holes, break up the compacted ground, improve the soil, and so on, has delayed moving them to the orchard from their temporary location, where we heeled them in a few weeks ago. One would normally plant these whilst they are still dormant, typically between December and March. However, we are behind, and with the mild weather our quince had already started to shoot. Today, our neighbour, Claire, volunteered for gardening duty, so we set about getting this first tree moved to the orchard.
The location of each tree had already been planned and the planting positions marked with stakes. The orchard site is an area of uncultivated land, covered with thick turf and various weeds. The first task was to remove a broad area of turf around the planting position as the young trees will not appreciate competition from the grasses. For our semi-vigorous rootstocks, the mature trees will be fine with grass growing around them, but to start them off in the right way it is best to remove the turf. By the time nature has reclaimed the area, the trees will be able to cope with it. More dwarfing stocks may need grass and weed control, along with permanent staking of the trees. I am not at all fond of the more dwarfing stocks, preferring something more robust and controlling growth with appropriate summer and winter pruning.
Having removed a good area of turf, a hole was dug to a good spade’s depth in the marked position, rather more broad than needed for planting, to allow some of the compacted soil to be loosened. The base of the hole was loosened to a fork’s depth and a bucket full of horse manure and a hand full of bone meal mixed in. The bone meal is high in phosphorus, which supposedly helps support root growth. The young tree, which was not only shooting above ground, but had already grown a considerable amount of fine new root, was eased carefully from its temporary home and placed at the same depth in the new site. A suitable stake was hammered into the ground, carefully avoiding any of the existing root. Soil was carefully filled around the roots and just lightly firmed. A light dressing of further manure was spread around the tree, but avoiding touching the trunk so as not to encourage rots. We did not water the plant in as we normally would, as the forecast rain had already started. A rabbit guard was put around the trunk and a tree buckle used to fasten it securely to the stake.
Claire was a great help today, and thought the new tree ought to be named Claire. She even pondered whether a plaque would be in order. A little unusual, perhaps, but our quince is now so named.