Time to think about spring and summer fruit

by Don Trotter


ello fellow Earthlings, and welcome to the first installment 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 time).

Step 2. Write down the diameter of the trunk of each tree; measure the diameter 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.

Step 3. Next we figure out how much stuff we need to get at the garden supply store. For each inch of trunk diameter, for each tree, you will need:

  • 2 lbs. kelp enzymes (Kelzyme) or agricultural gypsum
  • 2 lbs. soft rock phosphate or 4 lbs. bone meal
  • 2 lbs. Sul-Po-Mag
  • 1/4 cup soil sulfur
  • 1/4 cup copper sulfate
  • 2 lbs. hoof and horn meal or feather meal
  • 2 lbs. cottonseed meal

So, add up the diameters you got in step 2 and multiply the above recipe by that number. For example, it you have two trees with a 3" diameter and one with a 4" diameter, multiply the above recipe by 10 (=3+3+4); you'll need 20 lbs. of kelp, 20 lbs. of soft rock phosphate, etc.

Step 4. Go get the stuff. 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 Buena Creek Nursery and Cedros Gardens on the same Saturday. All of the materials that are recommended in this column are available at Grangetto's Farm and Garden Supply in Encinitas, Escondido, Fallbrook and Valley Center.

Step 5. 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, and you have given your trees the best diet they could ever ask for in this climate. And the really great thing is that everything is 100 percent organic!

Come up and see me sometime.

  Got Questions? Fax Don at (760) 632-8175 or email at Curlymill.net. Look for Don's new book Natural Gardening A to Z coming this summer from Hay House Publishing. Don Trotter's columns on natural gardening appear in newspapers and magazines nationally.