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Hannah Stephenson reveals how to plant bare-root fruit trees

It’s a great time to start planting bare-root fruit trees and bushes because the soil is still warm, encouraging quick rooting and helping the plants become established.

If plants arrive from the nursery before you are ready for them, heel them in – dig a hole large enough to take the roots, put the plants in, shovel back the soil over the roots and firm it down. They can stay like that for many weeks.

If the ground is too hard to dig, leave the plants wrapped in the material they were packed in and put them in a cool, frost-free outbuilding until conditions improve.

You will need to prepare the planting sites thoroughly beforehand, adding plenty of garden compost and breaking up the subsoil to ease drainage. Avoid replanting fruit where a similar tree or bush stood before, as the new plant will find it difficult to become established.

When the ground is ready, mark where the trees or bushes will go with canes and dig the holes, inserting support stakes before planting. Once the trees are planted to their correct depth and staked, give the ground a light dressing of bonemeal to give them a good start.

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