Save Money – Plant Bare Root Fruit Now

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Difficulty: Intermediate

Garden tips by region picking-blueberries

If you want to be rewarded in the garden for years to come, plant fruit trees. They will reward you with a bountiful harvest for decades with only a little maintenance.

The most efficient way to start is with bare root plants — those sold without a pot or soil while the plants are dormant. You’ll save money and find a much wider selection of varieties and sizes available.

While the ground is still cold, it’s a good time to plant bare root edibles like blueberries, raspberries, grapes and rhubarb. It’s best to plant your root stock as soon as you get it; however if you are delayed a day or two, keep bare roots moist, cool, and in the dark. You can wrap or cover with damp newspapers until you are ready to plant.

How to Plant: 

  1. Soak exposed roots in buckets of tepid water for an hour or two to hydrate them.
  2. Pick a spot that gets at least 6 hours of sunlight daily.
  3. Dig a hole no deeper than the root system, but at least twice as wide.
  4. Don’t improve the soil with amendments, like compost. Why? Roots won’t venture out from fluffy amended soil, and the plant will become root-bound, meaning they’ll wrap around themselves and become tangled.
  5. Set the plant in the hole, spread the roots, and position them 1” under soil level. Fill in the hole with removed soil.
  6. Firm the soil gently to eliminate air pockets and water. 
  7. Mulch with 2-3” of shredded pine bark or cedar.

When to Fertilize:

  1. Apply a slow-release fruit fertilizer 4 weeks after planting or when new, green growth appears. 
  2. Scatter fertilizer on top of the soil, in a 3’ circle around plant. Scratch in with a cultivator.

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