19 Apr Fruit Trees: Planting, Watering, Fertilizing and Organic Pest Control
Fruit trees are not only beautiful additions to any landscape, but once they start producing…! How wonderful to walk to your backyard and pick delicious, organic fruit for your family! This guide shows how you can properly plant and care for fruit trees to keep them healthy, happy and productive.
Full sun is vital to fruit trees’ survival. Also important is well-drained soil. Certain varieties are more forgiving of less-than-perfect conditions. Pears, plums and apples will put up with somewhat poor drainage and less than full sun.
Fruit trees that drop their leaves every year (deciduous trees) are usually sold in containers during the growing season and bare-root during the dormant season. It’s very important to the health of your fruit trees that you plant bare-root trees as soon as you can after buying them.
Dig the hole about twice as large as the container or “root ball” of your tree. Make sure to fill in the hole with a mix of native soil and the soil building compost. Cover the top with 2-3 inches of compost or mulch. If your soil is very clay-like, you may need to add some gypsum to the hole as well. Most fruit trees are pretty low-maintenance once they’re established, but if you pay attention to them and provide proper care you’ll get a more abundant, flavorful harvest.
Newly-planted fruit trees need more water than established trees. Every time the top two inches of soil dry out, give your fruit trees a generous watering. Once they’re established, they won’t need quite so much water. However, a periodic deep soaking will cause all fruit trees to give you a juicier crop. This deep soak can come from a good rain or from your careful attention. Drip irrigation systems are perfect for watering fruit trees. Adding organic mulch also helps keep in moisture. Don’t mulch right up to the tree trunk, though. Leave a couple inches of space; it’s better for tree health.
It’s common practice for commercial fruit tree growers to regularly fertilize their trees. If you’re a backyard grower, it’s likely your trees only need a bit of fertilizer now and again, according to most home growers. Pay attention to your trees’ growth. If they’re growing well, they’re getting all the nutrients they need and fertilization is unnecessary. If they’re not doing so well, apply a high-nitrogen organic fertilizer in the early spring to give them a needed boost. However, if they continue to grow poorly, you may have soil that is deficient in other nutrients. You can get your soil professionally tested and then follow the lab’s suggestions. Your trees should be thriving in no time!
Diseases & Pests
As with any plant, fruit trees can be hit by diseases and pests. If you have deciduous fruit trees, apply an organic oil spray during the dormant (leafless) season. Usually 2-3 times a year in November – January for climates similar to Southern California. For climates with longer winters, February – March. The oil eliminates the pests and any overwintering eggs. Your local Cooperative Extension Office or nursery/garden center can give you more detailed advice on fruit tree disease and pest identification and what to do about them.
We highly recommend adding fruit trees to your landscape. The payoff in fresh, organic fruit is worth the effort!