How to plant a nutmeg tree

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Although nutmeg is found in many if not most well-stocked kitchens, the tree that produces it is not so common. Nutmeg trees, which are native to the East Indies, thrive in the humid tropical environment of their native land. The ideal temperature range for growing nutmeg is 25 to 30 degrees Celsius.

Grow a nutmeg tree in a container and keep it in a humid greenhouse or covered porch if you live in a subtropical or temperate climate. Properly preparing the planting site and planting a young sapling is the first step to growing a healthy nutmeg tree.

Select a planting site that provides some shade for the sapling. An area where the sapling will be shaded by taller plants until it reaches a height of 6 to 8 feet is ideal. Nutmeg trees require shade for the first few years but will require full sun as they mature.

Clear a 2-foot-wide circle of all grass, grass roots and weeds.

Dig a hole 24 inches wide and 24 inches deep. Create a mixture of 1 part soil and 1 part manure using half of the soil removed from the hole and an equal amount of manure.

Slide the nutmeg sapling out of the planting pot, or, if the roots are bare, remove the protective material.

Hold the nutmeg sapling in the planting hole with the base of the stem level with the surrounding soil. Push the soil and manure mixture back into the hole under the root ball until the sapling is supported in the hole. Spread the roots of bare root saplings out and fill in enough soil under the tree to support it.

Continue backfilling the hole, being careful to keep the base of the trunk level with the surrounding soil line. Add soil a few handfuls at a time and pat it down as you go to remove air pockets.

Add enough water to the area to soak the root ball and the planting hole entirely. Water once or twice a week for the first growing season to keep the soil around the sapling slightly damp but not saturated.

Spread a 2-inch layer of mulch in a 2-foot circle around the nutmeg sapling. Keep the mulch about 2 inches away from the trunk to prevent microbes and rot from forming around the trunk.

Select a 15-gallon container. Half of a whiskey barrel provides an attractive planting pot of an ideal size. The container must have drainage holes in the bottom.

Spread a 2-inch layer of coarse gravel over the bottom of the planting pot to keep soil from washing away when watering the nutmeg sapling.

Add enough well-draining potting soil mix on top of the gravel to fill the container halfway. Nurseries and garden centres sell premixed formulas, but you may make your own by combining equal parts of peat moss, sand and bark.

Slide the nutmeg sapling out of the nursery pot or unwrap the roots if it has been shipped with bare roots. Place the root ball into the pot with the base of the stem about 1 inch below the lip of the pot. Fill in soil under the roots or remove it as necessary. Spread out the roots.

Add the potting soil mix around the root system a few handfuls at a time, pressing it down as you go. Fill the container to 1 inch below the lip of the pot.

Soak the soil around the nutmeg sapling until water seeps from the holes in the bottom of the container. Then water when the top 1 to 2 inches of soil feels dry to the touch.

Place the pot in an area that gets dappled shade, where the temperature range is 77 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit.