Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Planting Our Apple Tree

Rillito Nursery donated it, the Prince Mustangs carried it across the playground, Garden Club watered it, and, last week, at long last, we planted it.
This is how it happened.
It took all of us, using all the plastic tools, and 2 days of digging,
 until we were able to be proud of this small dent in the earth. 
Obviously, drastic measures were necessary.
Grandma brought her pointy shovel from home and, after the littlest gardeners left, brought it out to the garden.
Great progress was made.by rhose who could be trusted with an adult tool, those who understood the limitations of the pink and blue trowels, those who appreciated the capabilities of my shovel.  Even so, I didn't take my eyes off them for a second. 
The shovel went deep and the shovel went wide, and the hole grew and grew.
The loosened soil was collected in the green barrow
and mixed with the Happy Frog amendment,  
creating a nutritious backfill for the roots to explore.  
Yes, your hands are dirty. 

But we are introducing our new tree to a harsh environment, surrounded by dirt-masquerading-as-soil.  Your dirty hands are giving those roots a head start..

But it's a tough love head start. The backfill is mostly the dirt-masquerading-as-soil we removed from the hole. The amendments will entice the roots to move out from the trunk, bypassing but noticing the less nourishing natural environment, growing stronger.  
The backfill will be tamped down around the rootball, patted but not crushed, so the roots can slither at their pleasure, adjusting to their new home without unnecessary impediments. Breaking up the clumps of hard pack and mixing it with the softer, more fragrant amendments, created a medium through which the wooden handles of our plastic tools (pretending to be roots) moved with no effort at all.
With the backfill prepared and the hole properly sized, we tilted the plastic pot, holding the trunk so the branches didn't touch the ground.  We stomped on the plastic with a firmness befitting the freeing of a captive, then gently loosened the root bound ball we had revealed.  

Yes, we cut the roots, but in doing so we were allowing them to choose their own path, rather than going round and round in a never-ending circle.  We spread them out, settled the tree in the middle of the hole, and raked and shoveled the backfill until we covered the exposed roots and created a moat to collect the irrigation.
It takes a lot of help to get established in a new place.
Prince Elementary School knows just how to welcome a newcomer.


  1. What a great project! Hopefully today's students will be able to bring THEIR children back to show them a mature tree.

    1. I love how you think! I'm afraid that, right now, I am having trouble looking much further out than tomorrow :-)


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