In between all the Christmassy stuff this week, a quince tree that I had ordered turned up. There is already a mature quince in the orchard, but it hardly ever bears any fruit. I looked at it in blossom this year and there was plenty of flower, but the rest of the pears had long finished doing their thing. If you look in the books, quince are supposed to be self fertile, but everybody needs a friend, right?
The tree that I had ordered was bare root, which is by far the cheapest way to buy trees. They are available here between November and March - as the trees slumber gently, they are lifted from the ground, root-washed and posted off to their new homes. They are light as feathers compared to container grown trees so the postage is cheap too.
They're just a little bit more challenging to plant if you're not used to them, and they don't like to hang around. You've either got to plant them straight away, or give them a temporary home in a pot if the ground is frozen or waterlogged. But as it's been mild and dry here for the last couple of weeks, I decided to summon up our two trainees for a quick lesson in bare root fruit planting.
It's important to plant the tree at the same level as it was in the field
- the soil mark is visible just below the graft union.
We staked it and tied it and mulched it
and pruned the leader back to a nice healthy looking bud
(in case the tip of the shoot had been damaged in transit).
Then we wrote down what we had planted so we don't forget!
Now all it has to do is grow...