We’re trying to learn as we go without falling into our perennial problem of all research, no action, but as the Mexican proverb states, “El flojo y el mezquino dos veces andan el mismo camino,” which means the lazy person and the perfectionist both have to do things twice. We don’t want to have to plant our orchard twice.
Permaculturists recommend planting bare root trees with good care but no babying. In other words, don’t give them a wonderfully fertilized little hole that they have to leave as they grow. Good advice for parents, too!
Colorado Master Gardener program gives the most up-to-date science on planting bare root trees. The website includes clear pictures and information.
On the other hand, this info from my mom: “Our county agent and the NMSU orchardist caution that the hole for planting a tree should be straight sided, straight down. For awhile there it was all the rage to dig a bowl-shaped hole. It has been discovered that the roots follow the bowl upward and grow out of the ground rather than outward and downward. Ultimately, death on trees.” Stark recommends a 2′ X 2′ X 2′ hole for bare roots. To keep our warrantee on our trees, we’ll probably have to follow the planting instructions included. Since we ordered from Raintree and Stark, we may get two different sets of instructions.
Phil Williams offers excellent advice, with no compost or fertilizer.
Burlington Permaculture gives information about watering and pruning.
One writer (Walden Effect), quoting The Holistic Orchard, says to remove vegetation for four to six feet in diameter for each tree and mulching with wood chips. This wood keep any remaining grass down and understory plants could be placed in the mulch.
This article offers extensive information about cover crops.
The Philadelphia Orchard Project looks fascinating and has great resources for companion planting.
Deep Green Permaculture gives detailed instructions for pruning fruit trees from bare root onwards.