It's Time for Bare Roots!

on Thursday, 02 January 2020. Posted in Edibles, Fruit trees, Classes, New Plants

Fruit Tree and Berry Season

homeWinter2017 Bare Root Fruit Trees and Berries

Foggy mornings, cold nights, soggy ground, and winter storm warnings - that means it’s a perfect time for planting bare root trees and shrubs! Our first shipments of bareroot have already arrived, so this is the perfect time to start making your 2020 fruit tree wish list.

Bare roots, for those unfamiliar with them, are dormant plants (generally fruiting trees and shrubs) that are sold with exposed roots. We hold them here at the nursery in bins filled with soil, to keep the roots from drying out. When you buy them, we dig them out, pop them into a plastic bag, and you’re on your way! And although bare roots look a little…unimpressive…at first glance, there are a lot of great reasons to consider planting a few this winter.

              Selection: You’ll find the biggest selection of fruiting trees and shrubs at this time of year - ranging from hard-to-find food plants like quince, jujube, elderberry, currants, and hops; to a larger selection of sizes (from dwarf rootstock to semi-dwarf) and varieties of fruit (five kinds of strawberries, five kinds of grapes, ten kinds of peaches and four persimmons!).

              Price: Because these are bare roots, nurseries have a lot fewer costs invested in them: no containers, no soil, no fertilizer - and they haven’t spent months (or years) caring for them as they’re growing out. Those savings are passed along to the buyer, and they can be significant.

              Mid-Winter is a great time to plant: It might seem counter-intuitive, but this is a wonderful time for planting trees and shrubs. The ground is moist and plants are dormant, so plants are far less likely to go into transplant shock than they are during warmer and drier times of the year. In addition, because the ground is soft, tree-sized holes are a lot easier to dig!

              Getting to the root of it all: Plant roots are amazing structures: they hold plants in place, pull water out of the soil, and store the nutrients plants need to grow and be healthy. And root structures are incredibly variable. Some plants produce lots of thin, fibrous roots; some rely on a long taproot; and others have root structures that branch as widely and intricately as the above-ground part of the plant. And yet, we rarely get to see them! This is probably the only time you’ll have the opportunity to see the whole plant you’re working with. And that can help give you a better understanding of what your trees and shrubs need in order to grow and thrive.

blackberriesapple treepeach

There are just a few things you’ll need to keep in mind when planting bare roots, in order to get your new plants off to the best start possible:

  • Try to get your bare roots planted within a few hours of getting them home. Your bare root plants are dormant, but they’re not indestructible. If you can’t get them planted immediately, make sure you keep roots from drying out between the time you bring your plants home and the time you get them planted.   You can keep them moist inside the plastic bag for a couple of days.  It is best to heel them into some soil or moist bark if you can’t plant them right away.
  • Hold off on fertilizing your new plants until all risk of frost has passed. Fertilizing too soon can push leaf growth before their roots have had a chance to get established. In addition, new leaves are thin and tender and can be killed by late frosts.
  • It is best to prune back the branches of your bare root tree.  You want the top of the tree to be more in line with the root system.  This will help give the roots a better chance at supporting what is up top.  Have more questions?  We can help at the nursery or come to our fruit tree pruning classes on Feb. 15th and Feb. 22nd!
  • Please feel free to ask us questions! The staff here at Shooting Star is happy to help you with suggestions about the best varieties to plant, how much space your plants will need, and what pollinizers (if any) your plants will need in order to produce fruits. We can even give you a few simple pruning suggestions to get you started on the right foot with your new plants.

Selecting and Caring for your Live Christmas Tree

on Thursday, 28 November 2019.

'Tis the Season for...Conifers!

Live Christmas tree sm

This year, instead of bringing home a cut Christmas tree that was cut weeks ago and kept in cold storage or putting up one of those “trees in a box”, consider getting a live Christmas tree.

It’s easy to understand the charm of a live Christmas tree; one that can be planted outside after the holidays and go on to brighten your garden for years to come. Here are a few tips that will help you pick the best live tree for your home, and keep it alive and healthy until you plant it after the holidays.

 

 Let’s start with a few basic conifer facts:

  •  Most conifers don’t actually stop growing. Some may grow very slowly (less than 6”/year); others can grow much quicker (over a foot a year). When you see the mature size of a conifer listed, that size is just a snapshot of the size the plant will be in 10 to 20 years.

Unless otherwise noted, most conifers prefer at least 5 to 6 hours of sun per day. Most can take full sun

Conifers generally prefer soil with a neutral to slightly acidic pH; most prefer well-drained soils

When planting your conifer, if it is wrapped in a burlap ball, cut the twine that holds the ball together but don’t loosen the burlap (that can damage the roots) – the roots can grow through the burlap, and the burlap will eventually disintegrate

Remember to plant the crown slightly above the level of the surrounding soil (link to planting guide)

Caring for your live Christmas tree:

If you are bringing your tree into the house, be sure to keep it away from fireplaces and heat vents

Minimize the time your live Christmas tree spends indoors. Ideally, your tree won’t spend more than 3 or 4 weeks inside.

The best way to keep your live Christmas tree watered is to place ice cubes in the pot. They’ll melt slowly and the plant will soak up the water gradually – and you won’t be left with big messy puddles on the floor!

When you’re transitioning your tree from your house to the outdoors, do it gradually. Remember: your house is a good 30 to 40 degrees warmer than your yard at this time of year! Once the holidays are over, move your tree into a sheltered place outside – maybe on an unheated porch or under a sheltered overhand. While your trees will be happier in the ground, you don’t need to plant them right away - as long as you keep your tree from drying out.

For more information on some of the varieties of dwarf and compact conifers we have in stock, check out this Plant of the Week post!

The Fruits of Persia

on Thursday, 28 November 2019. Posted in Edibles, Fruit trees

Delicious Additions to Your Edible Landscape!

What do figs, pomegranates, persimmons, almonds, peaches, apricots, and grapes all have in common (aside from being delicious)? They’re part of a group we like to think of as “the Fruits of Persia’, as they all originated in the Fertile Crescent region and figure prominently in Persian cuisine.

The Rogue Valley shares several similarities with the climate of Persia: Hot summer days and cooler nights, relatively low rainfall, a long enough heat spell in summer to ripen fruits, and ample chill hours in winter. Thus, it makes sense that many of our favorite fruits come from this rich and abundant area of the world. In fact, the word ‘paradise’ has a Persian root, meaning walled garden. This year, let’s create our own paradise of luscious fruits!
 
figsFigs
Love our hot summers
Very traditional in Persian and Mediterranean cuisine
Best flavor when picked very ripe and soft to the touch
Choose early ripening or two-crop varieties
Appreciate a well-drained soil
 
PomegranatePomegranates
Thought to be the ‘apple’ in the Adam and Eve story
Drought tolerant and very heat tolerant, grown as a large shrub to small tree
Like figs, locate in the hottest location you have and provide well-draining soil
Choose early ripening varieties
 
all in oneAlmonds
To avoid potential spring frost damage, choose a late blooming variety like ‘All in One’, which has the added benefits of being semi-dwarf and self-fertile
Encourage your pollinators by planting pollinator-friendly plants nearby. They’ll repay your efforts by improving pollination!
Well-draining soil is best but can tolerate some clay
 
suncrestPeaches
Nothing beats the taste of a sun warmed peach
Long history in Persian culture. In fact, the botanical name for peach is Prunus persica!
Lots of varieties so you can stretch out your peach harvest time
Look for disease resistant varieties to avoid Peach Leaf Curl, or use a dormant oil spray
Does best in a well-drained soil; all varieties are self-fertile!
 
apricotApricots
Early blooming like the Almonds. For best results, choose late blooming, self-fertile varieties like Harcot, Chinese, Moorpark, and Autumn Glo
Best flavor when picked ripe, and always better than store-bought!
Very traditional fruit in Persian cuisine: fresh, dried, and preserves
Like most fruit trees, Apricots do best in well-drained soil
 
GrapesGrapes
Love our hot summers; drought tolerant and fast growing
Very traditional in Persian and Mediterranean cuisine, leaves are culinary as well
Choose different varieties to enjoy contrasting flavors and colors and ripening times
Can tolerate different soils, but well-drained is best. Avoid overwatering
Maintain good air circulation and sun exposure to avoid mildew
 
fuyuPersimmons
Persimmons originally developed in China and Japan. However, the word “persimmon” likely come from a Persian word meaning date-plum: a nice description of the flavor!
Very ornamental tree with great fall color and decorative and edible sweet fruit
Best flavor when allowed to soften
One of the latest fruits to harvest, cold hardy to Zone 7 
Persimmons can handle clay soils better than most fruit trees