“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
I’ve always loved the above quote and find it particularly apt at the dawn of a new year. Of course, it’s not just about trees but about anything you want to start doing. It’s never too late to do the thing, whatever it is. Really.
I have been gardening in this area for 8 years now- it’s amazing how the time flies by. The dwarf apple trees I planted at Food Love are now bearing fruit, and the asparagus gets mightier each year. Perennial plants (the ones that come back each year) are truly amazing! And now is the time of year to get inspired and plan to bring more of them into your garden.
In this post, I’ll be talking specifically about bare root fruit trees. “Bare root” means exactly what it sounds like- plants (often trees or woody shrubs) that are sold bare (not in soil but often in moist sawdust). Our area has a rich history in this particular area- thanks to one Felix Gillet.
“Beginning in 1866, Felix Gillet, of Nevada City, CA, imported, bred and introduced most of the plants that comprise the foundation of California and Pacific Northwest perennial fruit, grapes and nuts. Gillet introduced hundreds of varieties that helped create these industries: Almonds, Walnuts, Filberts, Chestnuts, Cherries, Apples, Pears, Figs, Table, Raisin and Wine Grapes, Plums, Prunes, Apricots, Peaches, Roses, Nectarines, and Strawberries. Many of his introductions are still the leaders of their industry, while others, then widely planted, provided the genetics for further breeding that led to today’s popular varieties.”
When you see old abandoned apple trees, and giant chestnuts you have Mister Gillet to thank. And luckily for us, Amigo Bob Cantisano, Adam Nuber and Jennifer Bliss are making sure that these varieties don’t go extinct! Together, this group comprises the Felix Gillet Institute and they are working together to catalogue, preserve, and share these delicious tastes of the past. And not only is this exciting from a preservation perspective, but it’s also vital to keep these varieties who have adapted to our region over time.
So, celebrate 2019 by taking the long view. Winter is the perfect time to plant fruit trees because they are dormant (ie they just look like sticks). You can get them directly from the folks at FGI or from Peaceful Valley .
If you do decide to bring more fruit trees into your life (and I hope you do!) make sure to read the instructions about how to plant them and what they like. The first time I planted fruit trees I faced them all the wrong way and had to go back and dig them up and move them around, oof. It was very humbling. Hot tip- face the scar where the tree was grafted to the north so that it has less chance of sunburn! For the uninitiated, grafting is a magical practice where the desired variety of fruit is fused with a rootstock that tells it how big to grow.
Pay extra attention to how big your trees will get- you will have options on what kind of rootstock they are grafted onto (this tells you what size they will be when mature). You can get dwarf, semi dwarf, or full size trees. Some nurseries even offer trees with multiple varieties of fruit grafted onto one trunk!
Cheers to a fruitful 2019!