Our 6 top tips for caring for your fruit trees
Updated: Jul 20
A common question we get asked when looking at fruit trees for our clients is, “what can I do to care for my fruit trees?”. We all want happy, healthy, fruit trees that are going to be productive and give us great tasting home grown fruit. So, here at Treelands we’ve stuck our heads together and come up with our 6 top tips for caring for your fruit trees.
Location, location, location.
Where you are going to plant your fruit tree is key to whether or not you have a vigorous, super productive tree or a disease prone, sickly tree. The key things to remember are what type of soil you have; consider drainage on your site, how much sun the location gets as well as the space you have to accommodate the tree. If you have poor soil conditions you may have to think about some preparation work to improve the soil structure. Your site may be dry or wet, so you may need to think about how you can improve the water conditions to best benefit your tree or even change the location where you plant your tree. Sun is key because fruit trees need a lot of energy from the sun to produce and grow. How much room do you have? You need to know how many trees you can fit in your location, not just for planting but once they mature, they will need more room. Once you have worked out these main factors of your site, you should do some research and find out what type of fruit trees will best suit your site. Different cultivars can vary massively with their tolerance to wet or dry conditions as well as shade and disease tolerance - knowing what trees will suit your location is key.
From planting to maturity, regular pruning of fruit trees is key to promote good branch structure, as well as to keep them healthy and keep the size manageable. Young trees will need to be formatively pruned to create a strong and productive structure. Once your tree is established you will need to prune them annually to
keep the structure open, reduce the loading on the branches from the weight of the fruit and maintain the size and structure of your tree. The size of a fruit tree is one of the most important things, after all, you want to be able to pick your produce (some fruit is eaten as windfall, and may be the exception here e.g. Feijoa). Remember to check when is the best time to prune your trees as different species can benefit from pruning at different times.
Mulching your trees
Using organic mulch like wood chips, straw and bark on your trees and plants has lots of benefits but the three main ones are soil water retention, weed suppression and it breaks down, adding organic matter to the soil and improving its quality over time.
Pest and Diseases
Here in New Zealand our climate makes fruiting species vulnerable to a lot of different pests and diseases. There are a number of different ways to manage them both organically and with the use of chemicals but with a bit of research you can find a way that suits you.
We all need food, and fruit trees are no different. There are natural nutrients in the soil, however, these can be depleted due to the high uptake levels by fruit trees. Fertilising with the right nutrients and the right amount can benefit your trees health and production massively. Again, doing your research is key to making sure you are benefiting your tree, as fertiliser in too high concentrations can be detrimental to the tree’s health.
Watering your tree is very important but even more so are certain times of a tree’s life. During a tree's early life, establishment and during the dry times when the fruit is developing.
Knowledge and experience plays a huge role when managing your fruit trees, but don’t be downhearted if it doesn't always go your way, after all, sometimes nature just does its own thing.
We put together a list of good books and online resources to help you out on your fruit tree care, but please don't hesitate to contact us for any advice or pruning services.
Fruit Gardening in New Zealand by Ralph & John Ballinge- it’s an older book but the knowledge and easy to understand advice makes it a great book for any fruit tree owner.
RHS Pruning and Training (the definitive practical guide to pruning trees,shrubs and climbers) by Christopher Brickell & David Joyce - Although its a British book it covers a huge amount of different trees, shrubs and plants with great illustrations.
The Tui gardener - This is a good basic guide of when to prune your fruit trees and vines https://tuigarden.co.nz/ideas-and-inspiration/fruit-tree-pruning-guide/
Waimea nurseries - A great guide on how to guide and train different forms of fruit trees.
King plant barn - A great overall how to guide to pruning with great images to help.
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