I planted an orchard this spring with bare root stock. I know nothing
about growning fruit, I just like to pick and eat it. What do I need
to do for the trees and when?
I did prune them back as I planted them and have seen to it that they
have plenty of water.
The inexperienced grower
If you want clean looking fruit and healthy trees, you will have to do
periodic spraying with fungicides and insecticides. Generally, the
Sprays' sold at your garden stores will handle most problems. You also
should do a dormant oil spray in early spring. Young trees may not need
a lot of fertilizer, but as they mature, you should either give them a
release fertilizer in Fall, after they go dormant, or something in the
I suggest you scan the web for information on 'caring for fruit trees',
you should find more details.
Climate may determine when you spray and for what purpose.
Fertilizing may depend on local soils. It also depends on climate,
since you don't want to encourage new growth when frosts are
Not doing either may limit the size of your fruit crop or even what
varieties will thrive. Remember, most fruit varieties are not
found in nature; they are not natural. Thus, you have to have
lower expectations when trying to grow them via natural-only
However, the original thread (below) did not explicitly mention
spraying or fertilizing. It did mention pruning, but it did not
mention the fruit varieties or climate.
Where I live (mild winters), I prune my peach tree and grape vines
around New Year, to enhance the crops. I prune my dwarf citrus
lightly throughout the growing season (March through October), for
appearances and to keep the foliage from exceeding the ability of
roots to supply water (growing in containers). I prune my guava
about once every 3-4 years, usually in February or early March, for
appearance. My loquat is not yet big enough to prune.
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean
I live in southeast Kentucky at about 1000' elevation. I planted
golden and red delicious and fuji apples, I also planted peaches,
necterines, apricots, and plums. I would have to look up my records
to remember which kind of those.
I can't help you with the apples. We don't get enough winter chill
to grow them, which is fine because I'm not really fond of apples.
Peaches and nectarines have the same cultural requirements.
Actually, a nectarine is merely a fuzzless variety of peach. They
need severe annual pruning, just before the buds begin to swell.
Your initial pruning should have removed any leader (main vertical
stem). Apricots and plums also need a lot of pruning each year but
not quite as much as peaches. Go to a large public library, and
check to see if they have books on pruning in their gardening
Right after pruning, you should use a dormant spray that includes a
fungicide. All stone fruits need this. (I use a mix of dormant
oil and copper sulfate). Repeat this spraying just as the flower
buds start to show dark pink. Check with your county's
agricultural agency to see if you need to spray your trees for bark
borers (I must); if this is needed, do it right after the flower
petals fall. Other spraying might be needed to prevent insects
from damanging the fruit.
When the fruit on the peach and nectarine trees is about the size
of an almond in the shell, thin the fruit by twisting. Leave about
6 inches of branch between each fruit. What remains will grow
larger, but the pits will remain the same size. You might even get
more edible fruit than by not thinning because of the increased
amount of flesh without any increased amount of pits. Apricots
should also be thinned while still quite immature. Thinning also
prevents branches from breaking under the weight of excess fruit.
I'm not sure about thinning plums.
For feeding, I use a general lawn food just as leaves start to
sprout. However, your feeding depends on your soil type. Your
county agricultural agency can advise you about this.
To keep birds from damaging my peaches, I hang unwanted CDs from
the outer branches of my tree. I drill a small hole near the edge
of each CD and use about 6-9 inches of kite twine to hang it. The
CD moves in the breezes and flashes sunlight, scaring the birds.
Some people use foil strips.
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean
I do grow apples, peaches, apricots, sour cherries, and plums here in the
area, and I think my previous advice is basically sound, for you. Schedules
in Kentucky may differ somewhat, but the general principles I stated, still
Seems like I have seen fruit tree maintenance information from the U. of
I would search for their web site, or a nearby state. Also, contact any
Extension Services in your area for information. Actually, schedules can be
determined from your own observations. Dormant oil should go in as early in
Spring, as possible. You can start spraying when the trees come out of
You want to stop using pesticides while you have petals, or you will kill
some of the
friendly bees trying to pollinate your blossoms. Continue with the spraying
until shortly before you pick the fruit, usually a few weeks will be
adequate. I feel you cannot spray enough. The limitations are the weather
(it has to be calm day, with no
rain in the forecast for a few days), and how much time and/or energy you
have to do the job. You will learn from experience which particular insects
and funguses are problematic in your area, and you may have to change your
spray chemicals to solve
those particular problems. I think pruning is important, but for young
trees, it should
not be a higher priority than spraying and feeding. If you did a good
you should not have to do much, for at least a few years, as the trees begin
to put out significant growth.
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.