I Have Bad Soil...
Is the ground on your property infertile? Does it have poor drainage? Or perhaps it drains too freely. Is there anything that can be done? Or should you just accept defeat?
COMMERCIAL VS HOME GROWERS: In a large scale, commercial operation selecting the right spot of land is critical. But for a small scale home-owner, you have a lot more options. When you're only planting a few or even a single tree, you can doctor up the dirt to address just about any prohibitive soil factor.
Altering Your Terrain
POOR DRAINAGE: The quickest way to kill many fruit trees is through poor soil drainage. Your site might consist of shallow topsoil on dense clay or bedrock. Is your ideal planting spot on low grade? Perhaps you have a very high perched water table. Certain fruiting plants may do well in these conditions such as pears, quinces or mulberries. Additionally, some trees have rootstock options that are better suited for heavy soils. But what other options are there?
RAISED / MOUNDED BEDS: This is where raised or mounded beds can really save the day! We're not talking about a massive terraforming operation here. This could be as simple as bringing in a couple cubic yards of top soil. For added fertility, try a 50/50 mix of top soil and mushroom compost. You could mound up a stylish landscaping bed. Or you could box in a raised bed with boards or some other edging material. Even just a 12 inch deep mound can dramatically improve drainage.
BOOSTING FERTILITY: Interestingly, this bed construction technique can also address the issue of soil infertility. Bringing in organic, enriched soil will jump-start most of your plantings. This same approach can mitigate issues of mild heavy metal toxicity. It can allow you to customize the pH of your site, if needed. For example, a mound of peat moss can acidify the soil, creating the perfect spot for blueberries.
Applying a wood based mulch will also help to kick-start microbial activity, while offering other benefits.