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Moving and removing the apples

Apple roots

The so-called forest garden is now officially defunct. Due to extremely high groundwater (and some vole damage last winter), all three of the apple trees living there had died way back over the past summer, so Mark wiggled and wiggled and then ripped them out by the roots. Only one even had enough root mass left to make it seem worth trying to replant somewhere else, where the ground is more dependably dry.

Paring down an apple tree

Mark suggested planting the moved tree about eight inches deeper than it had been originally, which means the plant might root above the graft union. If so, I hope that I'll still be able to use my high-density training techniques to keep the tree relatively small.

In the meantime, we also did some drastic pruning to make the branch area more in keeping with the root area. This is very much an experimental tree, so it won't break my heart if it doesn't recover from the transplant shock and drastic pruning, but perhaps the tree will get its feet back under it in this better soil and will try once again to grow.

Digging raised beds

So, what's to become of the defunct forest garden? As I've mentioned off and on over the last six months, I'm busy mounding the area up into long raised beds for annual vegetables (and for hazels, which seem to be the only woody perennial that thrives in our waterlogged soil). The good news is that after years of hugelkultur, the soil is black and rich in many spots, so as long as I can get plants' roots up out of the underground ocean, perhaps this zone will turn into a prime growing spot after all. The big test will be tomatoes in 2015. Stay tuned for more details on drainage patterns (this winter) and on plant growth (next summer).



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Don't worry about growing tomatoes in your waterlogged soil. Tomatoes love water; it's the lack of water that's the problem. Back in the 1970s I was working for a commercial hydoponic greenhouse and the tomatoes we grew were more like softballs than what you see in the store. They were so big and juicy they fell off the vines when they were still green and huge. So long as the PH levels and the right nutrients are in the soil, they'll just go crazy with the extra water.
Comment by Nayan Wed Dec 17 13:24:06 2014