Time to Think About Spring Fruit

by Don Trotter

Hello fellow Earthlings, and welcome to the first installment of a three part series on the care of your deciduous fruit trees during the winter months. This is so that you can reap wonderful, tasty harvests in the Spring and summer.

Winter is the season when our deciduous fruit trees are supposed to be dormant. This week we are going into the soil to help our trees during the growing season and also to prevent some soil borne pests from attacking while the trees are supposed to be sleeping. Do not ever worry again if your fruit trees have foliage or fruit on them this late in the year. The following steps will help you to be more knowledgeable about your fruit trees and maybe understand them a little better when they act up.

Step 1 Get out your garden hose and a high pressure or sweeper type nozzle. Attach the nozzle onto the hose and turn on the pressure. Head down to where your fruit trees are and begin blasting them with this sharp jet of water. Lots of leaves will fall off of the tree; those that are stubborn and will not come off should be left for dormant spraying (which will be covered next week).

Step 2 Count how many fruit trees that you have and measure the diameter of each tree's trunk at 12 inches above the soil level. This step is for calculating the amounts of good stuff you will need at the garden center before you go there. It is always nice when only one trip to the store is necessary to do one's chores. I just hate running all over town, unless there is a sale at my favorite nurseries, which happen to be in different parts of the county. All of the materials that are recommended in this column are available at Farm and Garden Supply stores just about everywhere. If you have trouble locating some of the materials, give me a buzz, I'll do what I can to help you find a place in your area. . Once you have your counts and sizes all written down it is time for our next step.

Step 3 This is the step where we find out how much stuff we need to get at the garden supply store. The following recipe for your fruit trees is figured so that you may multiply it by the inches of trunk diameter for your trees:

  • 1-cup Fossilized Kelp (Kelzyme), agricultural Gypsum, or Lime per inch trunk dia.
  • 1-cup Soft Rock Phosphate or 2 cups Bone Meal per inch trunk dia
  • One half cup Sul-Po-Mag per inch trunk dia.
  • One quarter cup Soil Sulfur per inch trunk dia.
  • 2-cups Hoof and Horn Meal or Feather Meal per inch trunk dia.
  • 2-cups Cottonseed Meal per inch trunk dia.

Once you have returned home with your load of goodies, it is time to mix them or to apply them directly to the soil around your trees. Apply the mixture or separate ingredients to the soil at the "dripline" of the tree. That is the area below the outside perimeter of the branches. Lightly rake the materials into the soil and water thoroughly. You can cover this with a thin layer of compost or mulch as well. You are done! Your fruit trees will only need this feeding once a year to ensure good quality fruit and a healthy tree. After harvest you apply a simple nitrogen fertilizer like Blood meal or Alfalfa Meal, and you have given your trees the best diet they could ever ask for in any climate. And the really great thing is that everything is 100% organic! Don't forget the Mulch!

Got Questions? Email the Doc at Curly@mill.net Don Trotter's natural gardening columns are printed nationally in environmentally sensitive publications. Check out Don's books Natural Gardening A-Z and The Complete Natural Gardener for lots of other helpful tips to tend your garden without chemicals. Both are available at all bookstores and on line booksellers from Hay House publishing www.hayhouse.com

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