As we continue this Twenty-one Days of Green, planting trees seemed like an obvious choice. There are several fruit trees already growing on the farm at West Coast Seeds, so the idea came to expand the orchard area and expand our perennial food garden. With a minor investment and a bit of digging, planting just one tree improves the world tremendously. We planted two.

We stopped off to visit our friends at Art’s Nursery in Langley, where they have a fine selection of common and collector fruit trees. These trees are readily available at your local garden centre, and start in the fifty dollar (CDN) range. Larger trees, and some of the more obscure varieties might cost a bit more, but it’s a life long investment. We’re writing in mid-April, but the Van Dusen Plant Sale is coming up on April 30th, and it’s a great source for fruit trees in Vancouver.

When selecting a fruit tree, make note of its projected height and spread, and think about a possible planting site. This decision is going to impact the spot for decades or more, so put some thought into it. We chose to plant a Highland Pear and Rainier Cherry, and the site was made obvious by the existing orchard. We considered the sight lines and spreads, and planted them at triangle points to the existing trees. This pattern will allow more trees to join the orchard in the coming years.

To transplant a fruit tree (or other large shrub or tree), start by digging a hole roughly twice the diameter of the pot or root ball. The hole needs to be just deep enough so that the base of the trunk will be flush with the soil level. Avoid planting with the base of the trunk partially buried, or with the root ball sitting above the soil. Be sure that the trunk is standing vertically, and then fill in around the root ball with the soil that was excavated. Adding a bit of bone meal around the root ball won’t hurt, but it’s not strictly necessary. Form a collar of soil around the base of the tree in order to collect extra water. In dry weather, the tree will have to be watered deeply and thoroughly at regular intervals. We were lucky to get a good soak of rain in the days that followed our transplant.

In honour of Earth Day, 2017, we’re asking you to Commit to Grow, and plant a tree. Something functional, something ornamental, or something massive. It’s fun and rewarding, and a great way to mark an occasion.