Questions not deserving of a whole thread


I had a chance to meet with Jim Neitzel last week. For our climate he spoke highly of both Beaumont and Big Hawaiian. If I can find the latter I’ll give it a try. Generally near tropicals aren’t available here until April.


I would like some insight and thoughts on the use of 100% pine bark fines as a potting mix. Of course, this potting mix would need to be appropriately limed and have an appropriate time released fertilizer for the species being grown. Adequate drainage would also be critical. I know there is the go-to 5-1-1 mix, but I’ve observed many nurseries using a mix with no perlite in it. Also, some of the pine bark fines being sold around here have enough small particles to negate the need for peat. I imagine using pure pine bark fines would be much cheaper.


I want to know what should I do with these Pakistani Mulberry cuttings which started 15 days ago and start to
produce fruit. I am also not sure if these have any roots or not. What I am thinking to remove the fruit so energy can go into roots. Just want to know your opinion before doing this. Please see pictures.


Yes remove the fruit.


I don’t uses pine bark in my potting mix.but have aquiered several plants recently in a high percentage pine bark ( ? Mix ?)
While the mix seems well airiated , and well drained for sure .it does not retain much water , so drys up to quick for me.
Most of my mix is hard wood chip compost on bottom ,pro mix BX or hp and added perlite mixed.
Side by side ,similar plants the pine bark has to be watered twice as often.


Bark is designed to repel, or rather hold water within wood on its interior border. Perhaps it becomes more absorbent when it is partially composted. I would assume that water repellency is a huge advantage at obtaining good drainage but other ingredients would be needed to hold water.

I just use pro-mix as a starter- an off-brand equivalent that I buy 3 cubic foot compressed bails from a small green house nursery grower for about $25 each. It is cheaper and better stuff than Home Depot carries because the compressed bails hold so much more material per volume.

I make my own mix for container trees in 15-25 gallon pots in my nursery. Equal parts composted arborist and yard waste, peat moss, and sand or perlite- perlite in the 25 gallon containers for lightness. The compost holds lots of water so my mix holds more than pro-mix, but drainage is fine for such big pots.


Breaking ground on a new spot for fruit trees. Next step is to disc the ground once the soil dries out some.


Very nice open space. Good luck on planting your new fruit trees.



Beautiful Spud. I don’t know much about red clay in VA, but I like how you are loosening up the soil for your trees, breaking existing tree roots, and at the same time tearing up the sod.

Some nice mulch in the background. My only concern would be fertility of the soil and drainage. But at this point, it looks like you’re a long way to a successful planting.


Any of y’all bought bought an “instant orchard” tree from Ison’s? Curious what size of tree they’re sending out. I ordered one from them back in December when they were running a 20% off sale and I’m still waiting for it to ship.


Where’s the snow???LOL. It looks lovely, you can fit quite a few fruit trees in that spot.


That’s some really red clay, reminds me of the soil back home in OK.

I wish I would have done that where we planted our first batch of trees. Some have done pretty well, but there’s also some that have struggled.

Do you get a soil test, and are you adding any amendments?


Regarding my last post, there are 3 apple trees that are struggling to get going after two years in our back orchard. I was back there yesterday, and I’ve noticed that there was some standing water close to the trees, although the trees themselves are not standing in water. I think because of this, and that the soil isn’t too fertile, I’m thinking of moving them to some better drained, richer soil by the barn.

Would now be an OK time to go ahead and dig them up and move them? I know it’s going to be colder this week, but when it gets up to the 40s or 50s, would that be alright? Or should I wait until maybe March?

Also, these trees haven’t put on a lot of long scaffolds, so would I need to do any pruning after the transplant?

And, should I try to keep the soil packed around the roots while I move them, or dig them up, and shake off the roots and move them as bare roots?



Thank you Tony.


Hi Olpea,

My father grew cucumbers and corn here in years past, no issues with drainage, no pooling of water. The topsoil on this part of his farm has not been stripped. Fertility is another matter, lots of 10-10-10 with mixed results growing corn. I think I am going to plant the trees 50/50 - some in raised 4 ft by 4ft by 12 to 16 inch raised beds and the other straight in the ground. I should do them all in raised beds but it takes a lot of dirt to fill those beds and I am not sure I am up to it. Hope I am not to far from a successful planting, should have trees coming in March. Curious how far apart do you space your peach trees? I have done mine anywhere from 10 to 15 ft but I haven’t decided what is optimal yet. Spud - aka Richard


I wasn’t sure if plowing was the right thing to do but trying to dig in the soil when it has not been broken is challenging. I usually add amendments, normally processed manure - 20% to 40% of the hole, or about 20% in a raised bed. If you look at the picture the brown/black dirt is horse manure. It was supposed to be 10 to 14 years old but that is not the case - according to the guy who delivered it the manure is still “hot”. I always read that you should not put unprocessed manure in the ground when planting trees. So I am not sure what I will do with it. The other piles are ground up limbs/small trees where the electric has the power lines cleared in the local area. The mulch was free, I will likely let it decompose for another year or two before spreading. I have not done a soil test, I need to send one off to Va Tech.


No, I wouldn’t put that fresh manure in the soil, maybe next year, after letting it break down a bit. I recommend getting that soil test, so you don’t put down unnecessary amendments. I wish had done that before I planted those trees in the back orchard, that soil is poor, so I’ve had to try to make up for it with ferts and lime.

We have lots of older horse manure in the barn that I should be taking advantage of. I’m sure it’s broken down now, and not hot.

The place I have a lot of my fruit trees (6 apple, 5 pear and 2 peach) is just below the barn. It used to be where the horse and cows pastured in the past, so it is very nice soil. I did soil tests on it last year, and I hardly had to add anything to it, other than some lime, as the pH was a little low.

We had a garden there last year, and the tomatoes and peppers did great there. We also just threw out some pumpkin seed and we ended up with about a dozen decent sized pie pumpkins.

The fruit trees all seem to like it there, especially a Pineapple pear that’s grown from a 4ft whip to about a 12ft monster in about two years. A 5ft Winesap is now about 10ft tall as well. I’m thinking if putting my 3 pluot trees that are coming in March over there also.

Too bad the other plots aren’t as rich as that one. The ones up the hill from there are acidic (pH=5), so I had to throw down lots of lime, and some fertilizer. I put over 600# of lime down on just 5 plots! Now the pH of all those plots are at least 6.0.


So a story about the red clay dirt. The red in the soil indicates iron and Virginia has a rich history of Iron Mines and Iron Works. The Oxford Furnace in Campbell county is near where I grew up and it was one of the earlier iron works to open in the US, shortly before the revolutionary war. The furnace was producing 1,600 tons of pig iron annually during the revolutionary war.

The oxford furnace is near a major highway, below is a picture of the ruins (poached from the internet).

I never thought about it growing up but if you have a furnace you have to have a source for the ore. I found a map a few years back that showed the location of all the iron mines in Virginia. There are at least a dozen mines in the vicinity of the ironworks. Growing up I hunted most of the property (2 - 3 thousand acres) around the ironworks but never the property where the mines were located. The owners were very anti-hunting. Very curious to see if any of the old mines entrances are still physically open. One of the older guys I hunted with talked about how they would take tractors and close the entrances to old mines in the area, but he always talked about punch mines that were used for mining nickel.during WW2 (the area has trace deposits of nickel - nothing that can be mined commercially).

I read later in life that the mines and ironworks at various times were operated by slaves. I grew up in a house in a straight line would have been about 4 to 5 miles at the most from the old furnance. The house was well over 200 years old when I grew up in it and it was not the best house - originally a 2 room house with a large chimney made out hand made bricks. In the original part of the house it had notched beams - no nails. I was told that .it was an old slave house. Anyway I used to play in the yard in the dirt and in one spot of the yard I used to dig up all sorts of reddish brown material, it was relatively light and smooth. Very hard to describe - I was told that it was refuse from the ironworks. Always wonder if maybe a slave brought it home for some reason.

Anyway the mines were important for the confederacy, to produce munitions. They ironworks stayed open until the early 1900’s in the Lynchburg area.


Interesting. We live close to the Ohio River, and you see a few towns with the name furnace in them. I didn’t know what they were until someone told me it used to be the site of old ironworks. Actually not far from here, across the river from Ashland, KY is a town called Ironton, OH, so I assume there was a big works there. I’ve also seen what looks like a huge kiln or chimney not far from here, but I don’t know if it had anything to do with iron.

Funny how people speak around here. They don’t pronounce Ironton as “eye-ern-tun”, they say “arnt-un”.

I don’t know if the red clay in the Oklahoma soil has anything to do with iron, maybe so, but I don’t recall any works there. There used to be quite a few coal mines in SE OK. Folks find that hard to believe but there were some. My grandfather was actually a coal miner for a couple decades. Long enough to qualify for Black Lung compensation. I think the mines have all closed now, unless they’re doing some surface strip mining.

I remember playing in the dirt there as a kid, and once in a while you’d find a chunk of what I know now was coal. But most of the soil was hard red clay.


Apple trees don’t like wet feet
So I would ether move them or improve the drainage around them if possible .
Anytime between now and early March would be a good time to move.
Try to dig without damaging many roots and move bare root. Trim tops back maybe 1/2.
Without seeing the site it’s hard to tell, but a grader blade on a tractor could be used to make ditches to sufficiently improve drainage ,and leave them there.?