If you're thinking about adding edible perennials to your garden, sourcing bare-root plants is not only an economical way to go, but it is also likely to provide you with the most options when it comes to choosing plant variety. Many plant nurseries will also ship bare root plants, making them a great way to go if you don't live nearby a nursery with an extensive selection. In this episode, Kathy Boullin and I will be discussing the what, why and how of bare root perennials.
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In this episode, we discuss:
What the term "bare-root" means
How to plant bare-root perennials
The types of plants you might consider buying as bare-rootstock
Hundreds of perennial edibles (and ornamentals!) can be purchased as bare-root plants.
Bare-root plants need to be put in soil within a few days of buying them so be sure to have a plan! Ideally you'd have a place in your garden that was already prepared for planting. If you end up making an impulse buy (and we all know plants are one of the easiest impulse buys!) or you're trying to be thrifty by ordering bare-root plants when they're available even though your garden may not be, you can heal bare-root plants into an existing bed or pot them up.
Many fruits and berries require more a second varsity of the same species in your garden in order to cross pollinate and fruit. If you only have room for one or two trees, multi-grafts will provide you with multiple varieties on one plant.
To plant bare-root perennials:
Wash sawdust off roots before planting.
Start with loose soil and then dig the planting hole as deep as the roots and at least twice as wide.
Position the plant's height so that the crown (where the roots meet the trunk) is at or slightly below the soil surface. Be sure to take the time to check if your plant has a graft- most fruit trees and bush berries do! If the trunk has a conspicuous graft, it should be kept at least 1 inch above the soil surface.
Fill the planting hole and tamp down gently.
You can mulch around the plant with 2 inches of compost to help keep the area weed free, but be sure not to bury the stem or the graft!!
Common edible perennials that can be found in bare-root form include:
Left, bare-root espalier trees. Photo courtesy of Swansons Nursery blog. Right, Hilary's 3-year-old multi-graft espalier apple trees.
A few Great books on growing fruits and berries:
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More about this weeks guest expert:
Kathy is a horticulturist and enthusiastic plantswoman. For over ten years, Kathy has been helping customers select plants at Swanson’s Nursery, one of Seattle's oldest and largest local plant nurseries. One of her passions is growing fruit trees and bushes and she is always willing to add one more new variety to her garden.
About the Host:
Hello, I’m Hilary Dahl. Outside of this podcast, my job is to help beginning and experienced growers create beautiful and productive gardens. I have the unique experience of working in on a wide range of projects, from small backyard garden plots to multi-acre vegetable farms. I also work in my own garden every day when I get home. This podcast is an opportunity to discuss seasonal garden topics and share the the joy of growing your own food.