Spring is something that every gardener or fruit grower eagerly awaits, but with it comes a lot of work. Perhaps your new to growing your own food and are wondering how to care for fruit trees? We’re going to share our best tips for spring orchard care with you!
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How To Care For Fruit Trees In Spring
When we first moved to Rosevine Cottage it was a blank plot of land, with a house and 4 trees. Over the years we slowly planted and began cultivating our new plot of land into the thing it is today with absolutely no idea what we were doing. We now have around 30 fruit trees, of all different types. So how do you care for fruit trees?
It may feel intimidating to make this step into growing your own food, but it’s a rewarding step that challenges every day. Don’t be disillusioned, growing an orchard is a ton of work but to us, it’s worth it! Late winter marks the beginning of the growing season for those growing fruit, here is what we do every spring for our orchard:
Fruit Tree Fertilizer
One of the biggest things you need to know when planning how to take care of fruit trees is fruit tree fertilizer. We grow strictly organic here at the Cottage, so we go with organic composted manure as our fertilizer of choice. If your soil has adequate nitrogen, give your mature trees 70 LBS of manure under the canopy.
If your soil is low in nitrogen apply somewhere between 140-280 LBS. If you are using a highly concentrated type of manure such as rabbit the amount you use can be cut in half. Make sure you are using dry COMPOSTED manure, fresh manure will be hot and can burn the tree.
Apply the manure with a shovel beneath the canopy of your trees, extending a few feet past the end of your branches (the drip line). This is where your trees feeder roots are. Once you have spread the manure water thoroughly to allow the nutrients to begin leaching into the soil.
Unless your trees are new, plan to only apply manure to your trees once a year. If you do it too often it can overstimulate your leaf and stick growth instead of the fruit themselves.
How To Care for Fruit Trees: When To Fertilize Fruit Trees
Unless you live somewhere where it stays warm, such as the Mediterranean climate late summer or early fall (August-September) is when you should apply fertilizer to your fruit trees. However if you live someplace like us where it does get cold, you should follow a traditional schedule and fertilize just before your trees bloom (late winter/early spring).
If you do live in a climate that gets cold in the winter, make sure you aren’t feeding the trees in the fall as this can encourage your trees to begin growing. The new growth is especially fragile to damage from the winter weather (this is known as winterkill), which can hurt the entire tree.
Spring Orchard Care: When To Spray Fruit Trees
One of the spring orchard care tasks every fruit grower should tackle is spraying your fruit trees, this will your trees up for a successful harvest. The best time to spray your fruit trees is late winter and early spring, with dormant oil or dormant spray. This will help to protect your trees from overwintering pests, larvae and eggs, and protect your fruit later in the season. It’s best to begin spraying before your trees bud and then reapply every 7-10 days.
Pruning Fruit Trees
Another important aspect of spring orchard care is pruning fruit trees, this will help the overall health of your tree and help to promote better fruit. Pruning fruit trees is necessary to create an open framework, that allows sunlight in the wind to get in to dry out the branches after a rain (this is important when you live in a place where it gets very humid in the summer).
Remove any dead branches, limbs pointing directly at the ground, limbs that cross each other and suckers from the trunk of your fruit trees.
Dormant Season Orchard Care
Spring orchard care sets the stage for the rest of the year, and a healthy harvest later on. Here are some more orchard care tasks:
- Remove any mummified fruit still on your tree, this will help to prevent mold on your tree later in the season.
- Stock up on your organic orchard care products, find our favorites in our Amazon storefront.
- Now is a great time to work on weed control in your orchard.
- If you had trouble with fungus on your fruit the year before, rake up any fruit on the ground and remove.
- Clean up any trash or debris the winter weather may have blown in.
Spring Orchard Care
Orchard care can a bit overwhelming, but with some planning and some hard work, you can help set your orchard up for an abundant harvest in the fall.
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