Apple, pear, peach, cherry, and everything in between, fruit trees bring so much to your landscape. It brings food and shade in the summer, fragrant flowers in the spring and beautiful leaf colors in the fall. If you are thinking about fruit trees, there is some vital information you need on how to care for your trees so you get the most out of them as well as maintaining their health so their crop is bountiful for many years to come.
When buying a tree, be aware that it’s in the first stages of life. The roots, trunk, and branches have not yet fully developed to a self supporting strength. Some young apple trees, for example, do fruit even if they are young and the fruit can be heavy on a small tree that hasn’t fully developed. Occasionally, that weight can snap off an entire branch. Provide extra support not only to the trunk but to the branches. This can be done with boards to prop them up from the bottom or they can be tied to something higher, perhaps a neighboring taller tree or a fence. I’ve even seen “bean poles” used to help prop up young tree branches and that seems to work well. Whatever the method, as long as you provide the tree with support it needs in these early years, it should grow to be independent quickly.
Fruit trees require proper nutrition. This is necessary for the production of healthy fruits and for the tree to provide those fruits for many years. The specificaitons and type of nutrition will vary according to climate, zone, soil conditions and average rains. Your local gardening center should be able to help. Given as much information as you know, they should be able to advise you on what you need to maintain healthy fruit trees. Books and the internet are great for general information but nothing replaces first hand information a gardening center can provide.
A common mistake people make is the misconception that the magic way to ensure a healthy fruit tree is with large amounts of water. That is simply not the case. Giving too much water will do more harm than good. Too much water can have an undesireable taste in the fruit but in a worse case, it can kill the tree and you’ll have to start all over. Fruit trees are not cheap, get it right the first time. Think of them as babies that need nutrition and love to survive and thrive.
If you see unhealthy branches that look either diseased or damaged, remove them. The tree is wasting nutrients by sending them to a branch that cannot be saved instead of spreading nutrients equally to all healthy branches. The disesase can spread if you don’t just get rid of the bad branch. At the very least, trim down the unhealthy part but leave all the segments that still look like they could continue growing.
Once your tree is in the picking stage, it is very important that you never leave any of the fruit on the ground that falls from the tree. Many people would consider this just nutrients re-entering the ground. Not so. Also take care to get every piece piece of fruit off of the tree. This includes the ugly fruits you will not keep or use. Why? Once these fruits begin to rot, they are not providing nutrients back to the soil, they are going to harbor unwanted insects or diseases that can transfer to the tree itself which can harm your tree.
With all the factors that go into caring for your fruit trees from care, to nutrients, to raking, to making sure they have what they need to grow and be productive, it can seem like an overwhelming task. It may even seem impossible to keep up with all these trees need in order to thrive. It’s really not so daunting once you get all the information you need. Remember, if you just pay attention to the nutrients that your tree needs, you should have some prolific trees that will reward you year after year with free fruit that the whole family can enjoy!