Ever since finding our home, we've thought about adding fruit trees. They are both beautiful and practical, but we hadn't gotten around to putting them in, as other outdoor projects had higher priority.
A while back, we heard about Seattle Trees For Neighborhoods (ReLeaf): a project to help restore our forest canopy by getting homeowners to plant trees. It's a perfect public/private partnership: private landowners (such as ourselves) put our land to a public use, while retaining ownership and also reaping private benefits as well. Seattle's forest canopy has dwindled to something like 22%, which a concomitant degredation in air and water handling quality. ReLeaf is part of an effort to restore us to something like 35% cover, which will greatly improve our water runoff problem, while providing additional living spaces for birds, bugs, and people who like to climb trees.
We put in for the tree lottery as soon as it opened, and got in! We picked an apple tree; based on our past practice with fruit, we'll be able to put those apples to good use!
Sunday was pickup day. I drove to the Center for Urban Horticulture at the University of Washington. There was a little class on how to plant a tree, which was pretty helpful in that it raised several points I just plain didn't know about. Then it was time to pick up our tree!
Today I planted. I wanted to set aside a block of time sufficient to tease out the root ball, as the class had indicated, this took a little more time than just digging a hole and plopping the thing in there. A tree (as I see it) is basically a pump, expressing water from the leaves into the air, and in doing so pulling water up through its little veins that ultimately come from the roots. Thus it is extremely important to lay out the roots so that they can draw a good amount of water from the very beginning and grow into a good support network as well. This tree was taller than I am, and its pot was mostly roots - fortunately none of them was so stiff that it couldn't be pointed away from the center; the class had recommended trimming off any that could aim only back into the center, as they would pose a problem later.
I mulched the tree well, with a mixture of leftover bark mulch from our rain garden party, dried leaves from the laurel, and a few gallons of butterfly bush & laurel mulch that the electric chipper has produced a few weeks ago. I watered well (and had to use hose water, since it's the rainy season and the cistern's capacity is reserved for storms - ironic hunh?) and stood back.
That's all there is to this story. If you're a Seattle resident with a yard, think about signing up for the Trees for Neighborhoods program next year, and if you're not, think about organizing one for your area!