When is the best time to plant a tree? So the old saying goes.20 years ago, is the answer.
We planted a new almond grove yesterday. We now have a dozen almonds in the ground. but planting new, bare rooted, whip-stick sized, grafted trees takes some years before they will bare fruit, and many more until they reach a mature size to bare a good quantity harvest. So, we trans-planted 20 year old almond trees that I had been growing in our veggie garden. They were planted right over on the north side of our land along the boundary fence-line. Later we moved the vegetable garden over there because there was a lot of space to have a larger garden. We had run out of space in the old original site, especially since we extended our house into part of the site and shaded some of the rest.Then we netted over the garden to keep everything out and we had the best crops ever, with no losses to opportunistic critters.
Tragically, the almond trees wanted to grow up to their full height of 5 or 6 metres, unfortunately, the wire netting ‘roof’ was only 2.7 metres high. well tall enough for any vegetables, so I have spent the best part of the last 20 years tip-pruning and then regular summer pruning the vertical shoots to stop them growing through the mesh roof. It was a constant job all summer/autumn months.
Since we have had to re-think everything that we do since the fire. We are basically starting almost everything here on the block from ground zero – year one! I decided to relocate the almonds out of the vegetable garden and out into the space behind the house where the chook house once was and more recently a big patch of native garden. Now all gone. This brown field site needed something doing there, we decided that it will be an ideal spot for the new almond grove.
The long row of almond trees were planted next to a hedge of native shrubs. These burnt during the fire like they were doused in fuel. They all burnt to ash. The heat from this hedge burnt all the smaller branches off the almonds nearby. However, the trees were well established with thick trunks and protected from the main fire front by being planted behind the barn. This shadowed the garden a lot from the intense heat of the main fire. I watered the trees well after the fire and this week many of them managed to flower. Almonds are some of the earliest stone fruit trees to flower.
I pruned them back hard and we dug them up with a little mini excavator that was hired from the local hire place. This is a really compact machine and could just fit in between the garden beds and in under the mesh ‘roof’. We transplanted the entire dozen trees in one day. I’m hoping that they will survive. It would have been better to have done this job a month ago. But I was flat-out building the new stone fruit orchard frame and netting cover, to be ready for the new, bare-rooted fruit trees. That’s all done now, so the almonds were next on my list.
My friend Ross drove the excavator and I drove the ute and the shovel. We moved them in 4 truck loads on my ute, 4 at a time.So, when is the best time to plant an almond grove? 20 years ago, and I did! So now we have a new 20 year old almond grove, that I hope will be productive next year.
Instant 20 year old orchard!