Care of fruit trees - Spring
Tree Care Bulletin No 3
From Kensal to Kilburn Fruit Harvesters
Your apple and pear trees are probably in blossom now after a very hard winter.
So TLC is ever important to obtain a good crop later in the year. Here are some tips that are especially important for small, young trees:
* If frost is forecast, cover small trees overnight with horticultural fleece or net curtain fabric to prevent the delicate blossoms from falling.
* With young, small trees you could try hand-pollinating with a soft paintbrush.
* Feed young trees with an organic fertiliser in spring.
* Try powdered seaweed available from good garden centres.
* A layer of manure around the trunk but not touching it, will also help.
* Water your tree in periods of dry or windy weather.
* A full watering can or two per tree, once a week if no rainfall.
* When your tree begins to shows its young fruit in early summer, these tiny fruits need thinning out.
* Prune out one in every three fruits. This should result ina healthier crop that stays on the branch until it's ripe.
* For larger, more mature trees, you'll find some of the tips above are impractical unless you're prepared to spend much time and energy.
Any effort you can make, like watering in severe drought and applying an organic feed and mulch will be beneficial and appreciated by your trees, whatever their size.
* Bees pollinate the blossom that produces the fruit, so try to grow bee-friendly plants nearby : eg: Lavender; globe thistle; plume thistle; verbena Bonariensis; lungwort; blue comfrey; chives; toadflax and buddleia.
* Avoid using commercial pesticides and herbicides in your garden that contain neo-nicotinoid chemicals, because the jury is still out on the extent of damage these cause to pollinating and other helpful insects.
There is a wealth of organic ideas for dealing with fruit tree pests, so an online search will produce many for you to choose from. Prevention is always better than cure and this means regular tree care : annual pruning, thinning out, feeding and TLC.
For more info on bees, wildlife and harmful pesticides see " A Sting in the Tail " by Dave Goulson, Professor in ecological studies at Sussex University
Published April 2013
For more detailed fruit tree care and advice try The Royal Horticultural Society website: http://www.rhs.org.uk
With thanks to Carol French of Glorious Gardens for writing this Bulletin