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Saturday
Jan082011

Digging a Hole

I usually need some good tools when I dig a hole, a shovel with a sharp edge and a strong pick ax. Or my husband. Or all of these. My heavy clay soil is riveted with limestone rocks. Whenever I plant something in a new area I am almost guaranteed the work will be grueling, entailing sweat and sore muscles. So when I recently planted my new Fuyu persimmon tree, I put a lot of thought into it.

I wanted it planted relatively close to the house, near a water source so I wouldn't have to haul buckets of water to keep it hydrated during extreme heat or draught. I bought my tree in a moment of passion, without careful planning. (I did a similar thing with my voodoo plant, and I'm still waiting to see how that turns out.) The fact is, there wasn't a good place near the house for my persimmon tree, unless I sacrificed my herb bed or vegetable plot. Can't do that. I agonized for weeks, while my persimmon tree languished in its pot.

I finally turned my eyes outward, to other parts of the property. I decided on a spot on the lower lawn, spaced between my pistache tree and a Japanese maple near the front of the property - a long way from the house, but not too far from a water faucet at the edge of our lot.

I brought all of my digging tools and my husband for reinforcement. Lou put the tree in a wheelbarrow and pushed it down to the lower lawn. Then he took the shovel and rammed it into the dirt. It bounced back as though it had hit concrete. The grass was sparse in this spot for a reason. I sighed, and the persimmon tree looked on, horrified.

"I don't think my persimmon tree's roots will do very well here."

"What about over there?" Lou pointed across the road to the field in front of the woodland garden. It was wide open with full sun.

"I don't know. It's a long way from the water faucet." I was thinking about those heavy buckets of water.

Nevertheless, we walked over, and Lou stuck the shovel into the ground. It cut through the grass into deep, dark earth. No sweat involved.

The persimmon tree looked at the rich soil and began chanting, Plant Me Here, Plant Me Here.

So that's what we did. In no time at all Lou had dug a hole the depth of the tree's pot and three times its width. About eight inches down he did hit red clay, and a couple inches deeper was a big rock. But the clay was soft enough, and there was only one rock, which came out without blasting caps. We loosened the tree's roots from the root ball before settling it into the hole. We combined the native earth we had removed with some organic potting soil and then returned the mixture to the hole, gently shoveling it around the root ball. 

Then I hauled a couple buckets of water down the road to water it in. I can live with it. I am already tasting those delicious Fuyu persimmons, come next fall. The tree has promised me a good production, because it really likes its new home.I will prune my newly planted Fuyu Persimmon next month.

Update, December, 2011: I was a fool for Fuyu! It turns out this tree was mislabeled! I got a Tamopan persimmon, an Astringent Asian variety. Quite beautiful, and it will stay. But I still want a Fuyu!

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Reader Comments (14)

One of the most rewarding tasks in the garden for me is planting trees. And yes, they do watch as you dig, and kvetch about the proposed site. I love the description of your persimmon looking on in horror as shovel hit rock. I'm so glad you and your persimmon found a better home!

January 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLaurrie

Don't think of it as lugging Deb! Think of it as really good exercise with a healthy treat at then end of the workout!! Good luck Mr. Persimmion! Live long and prosper!!

January 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEve

Your tree will reward you, after all, it was begging to be planted there. I get such a good feeling planting a tree. I know it will long outlast me and I am the one that planted it. A real good feeling.

January 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDonna

Don't think of your water bucket haul as a negative. Instead it's persimmon inspired exercise!! I bought and ate a Fuyu persimmon after I read your original post. It was delicious!! :o)

January 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTS

Dear Deb, I do wish your Persimmon good long life! I hope you come up with a good idea for getting water out to it too. I felt like I was there with you all while planting your beloved tree. Best of Luck!

January 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCarol

Your soil sounds exactly like mine here. Hard as a rock. Glad you found a spot the tree welcomed.

January 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLona

Some plants are fortunate that their owners listen when they speak. I'll bet your tree knew all along where it wanted to be planted.

January 9, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterallanbecker-gardenguru

Good luck, Deb! Hope it's happy in it's new home :)

January 9, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjoey

A great mantra for the garden: "Listen to the tree!"

Your tree looks like it will happy in its new home. We have clay here but not big rocks. Ugh. It must not feel good to hit one of those.

A caretaker lives in Gimghoul Castle now, I think. Someone should definitely live there, even if its main use is for the secret Order.

January 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSweetbay

Glad you found a good spot for your tree. Funny, isn't it, how we get set ideas about where to put something but if we are flexible can come up with something even better. I can almost hear the happy sighs from your persimmon as it settles into its new home.

January 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJanet/Plantaliscious

Your post is so funny. My favorite tool for digging is my husband too, in fact, he calls himself the Garden Grunt. Don't you just love gardeners who decide where to plant a tree and then actually get to plant it there. My garden is like yours: you never know what the shovel will hit.

That's the trouble with gardens, sometimes unseen surprises demand that we're flexible in our plans and plantings. I expect once your new tree is established, it won't need too many trips with the water bucket. Just think of all those lovely persimmons you'll have, especially once the tree is full grown! They look so beautiful with their fruits clinging like ornaments in the winter too.

January 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCurbstone Valley Farm

Deb, Until I started gardening in Gettysburg, I couldn't understand why people made such a fuss about digging holes. Digging in the sandy soil of my Maine garden is -- well, like a day at the beach. The first time I tried to sink a spade into the soil of my Gettysburg townhouse and it went nowhere, I was shocked. I was so clueless about clay that I thought someone had buried old bricks in the yard! It's a good thing my Gettysburg garden is much smaller than my Maine garden, because everything takes 5 times longer there and has to be much more carefully planned. I'm glad you found a good location for your persimmon tree and I hope it is happy in its new home.

January 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJean

What a beautiful tree. Fuyu persimmons are fabulous! The bare root trees have arrived in the nursery and I am dreaming of figs and Satsuma plums.

January 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLynn

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