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      Weather Garden Tip: Staking your fruit trees

      It TMs still too wet to walk around in most of the NBC 25 and Farm Bureau Weather Garden. So I thought it would be a great time to straighten and stake my apple trees. Staking is important on fruit trees, at least for the first few years. Now there is a difference in need of staking when comparing the three sizes of fruit trees. The three sizes are dwarf, semi-dwarf, and standard. Dwarf fruit trees must be staked, as it seems like the root system isn TMt as massive and sturdy. So you could get a dwarf apple tree loaded with fruit, and the weight combined with wind could knock the tree over. So you should always stake dwarf fruit trees. Semi-dwarf and standard fruit trees should be staked for a few years until they sturdy up.

      Another reason for staking fruit trees is it may speed up fruit bearing. It TMs thought that the staked tree doesn TMt put a lot of energy into making wood, and can use that energy for bearing fruit. I TMd also totally recommend sticking with growing dwarf fruit. The trees might not produce as many fruit, but you can care for the tree so much easier. Fruit trees do have to be sprayed, whether with traditional chemicals or natural/organic pesticides. So being able to easily reach all parts of the tree is a big plus.

      Here TMs how I stake a tree, including fruit and all trees. First buy some strong stakes. The T stakes as they are called are great, and will last a long time. They are a little pricey if you have several trees to stake. The most cost efficient way is to make your own wood stakes. If you are handy with a saw, you can split a pressure treated eight foot 2 by 4 in half. Then cut the eight footer in half to make four foot stakes. Cut a point on them and you are good to go. If you aren TMt so good with a saw, buy 2x2 pine boards and put a point on them. They won TMt last but a few years, however.

      Drive three stakes in the ground to the northwest, southwest, and east of the trunk. Drive them in at an angle about three feet from the trunk.

      Next find an old section of garden hose and cut three 8 pieces of hose. You will use this to protect the trunk from the wire. The wire cutting into the tree trunk will kill it. Get sturdy, stiff wire (I TMm not really sure what gauge) and wrap it around the trunk above the first limbs. Run the wire through the hose, and make sure it keeps the wire from rubbing the trunk.

      Pull the wire tight and straighten the tree. This may take four hands, so get the kids involved. Tell them they get to eat the first apple. Then twist the wire many times behind the stake. If you want to tighten it even more, take a screwdriver and twist the wire (see picture).

      That TMs it! Now comes the more complex part, raising the tree and keeping it from being overrun by pests. We TMll talk more about that through the season.