Fruit tree care doesn’t end with the warm summer months. Many fruit trees are still in full bloom during the harvest season, while many others need special attention this time of year to prep them for the cold season — and a bountiful harvest next year!
Autumn is also the season to make sure your fruit trees are healthy. Most are preparing for dormancy, and you want to be certain that next year’s spring flowering/fruiting will happen on schedule. It all starts with watering. Don’t skimp on this, and know that most fruit-bearing trees need the same amount of water throughout October that they did in the summer.
Back to School, Back to the Garden
Few people enjoy raking, but it can be a great workout and meditative practice. Raking needs to be done, especially right next to plants, to keep bacteria from growing rampant. Plus, piles of sitting leaves can be irresistible to mice and other pests. However, some tasks you should avoid in autumn, such as fertilizing. In most cases, this should not be done after July 1. Doing so might actually stunt a tree’s growth during dormancy, but check the specifics of your species.
If you’re still picking fruit in autumn, which is common, make sure your technique is down pat. For example, apples should come off the branch with the short stem still attached. If that’s not happening, they’re either not ready to be picked or you’ll need to tweak your picking technique. Don’t let ready fruits hang so long that they drop naturally, since this will cause an excess of nutrients and decay. This problem can be tough to reverse, yet possible with soil and mulch.
Best Autumn Habits
If you’ll be storing/canning fruit, separate the perfect specimens from the subpar. A tiny scratch can spoil an entire jar, even though that fruit might be perfectly good to consume (right now). Put aside the “not quite good enough” fruits to eat immediately. Plan your cooking around your orchard’s offerings to minimize waste and maximize creativity and flavor.
While picking fruit, it can be tempting to start pruning, but resist. Put that task off until spring, since doing so now might accidentally encourage the tree to keep growing. You need to help it slow down for dormancy. Right now is cleanup time, canning time and the time to make sure autumn pests haven’t staked their claim in your yard.
Already have enough on your plate this fall? Call the pros at Reliable Tree Care for all your fruit tree care, trimming and tree-related needs.