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.
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!