Well it's that time again -- planting season. Many of you may receive fruit plants as Christmas gifts. For the most part we usually have some favorable weather for planting each week. During the holiday season, though, busy schedules may sometimes cause delays in planting new plants. It is extremely important that bare root plants be planted as soon as possible. If bare root plants cannot be planted immediately then certain precautions must be taken to insure their survival.
The main things you need to avoid are drying out and freezing, especially of the roots. When refrigerated storage is available, this is best, but most people don't have walk-in coolers. Let's talk about what to do if it is available. First be sure the roots are in a good moist condition before storage. After checking, return roots to the moistened packing material that the plants were shipped in and place into storage. Do not store with fruits and vegetables as they can give off gasses detrimental to your new plants. Maintain storage temperatures at 38 to 45 degrees.
Heeling in is the most often used storage procedure and it's available to everyone. Select a site that is well drained and in the shade. You will also want to avoid Northern or Northwestern exposures since this is the direction from which most of our cold fronts come from.
Dig a shallow trench wide enough to accommodate the root systems of your plants. Separate the bundles so they can be spread out and covered with moist soil. Be sure to keep varieties labeled and separate.
Water heeled in roots thoroughly so that all roots are contacted by moist soil. Additional water may not be necessary since we usually have fairly frequent winter rains, but if need be, water to keep roots moist. Be careful not to damage the roots when you do get around to transplanting to the permanent location.