A beautiful bounty ripe within reach — what could be better than that?
At one point in our lives, we dreamed of having a home orchard. Nothing in life is as fulfilling as having a bite from a fruit freshly picked from the tree you grew yourself. Caring for fruit trees is extremely satisfying.
Fruits are not just healthy and nutritious. Having a tree that bears one can save money on your grocery bill because you can just simply harvest for some, especially if they’re in season. A home orchard, indeed, is a valuable investment.
Growing and caring for fruit trees can be quite a handful. Whether you decide to grow a couple of fruit trees for your consumption and save money instead of buying from the grocery, or you just want to enjoy the beauty of the fragrant flowering trees, you need to be prepared.
Did you do your research?
Not yet? Well, don’t worry! We’ve rounded up some top tips to get you started in the right way:
1. Choose the right tree for the location
Most home gardeners have limited choice of location or soil where trees can be planted. You must consider the tree’s mature size when planning where to plant it. If you decide to plant a large tree, make sure you’ve got enough space and room for it to grow.
You also have to consider the weather condition of your location while picking the kind of tree you like. Some may not survive in certain weather. While most fruit trees do best in fertile, moist, well-drained soil, all they require is full sun. Avoid low spots where water stays long after rain.
2. Pick the right planting time
Knowing the proper planting time is very important, no matter what kind of tree you’re trying to cultivate. If you decide to plant a fruit tree during winter, you might expose young trees to extensive cold and risk of frost-killing.
Summer might also affect the chance of the roots to soak up enough, which is vital for their growth and development. Know the right tree to plant at the perfect time.
3. Plant at the correct depth
Trees rely on their roots to survive. Make sure you dig just enough to fit all the roots without bending; they need ample space to spread out and hold the tree on the soil. Refill the hole with topsoil, peat moss, and compost. You want the root swell at the tree’s base slightly above the soil level.
4. Keep the roots hydrated and avoid air voids
Ideally, for bare root trees, it’s suggested to soak the root ball in the water, completely saturating it for at least 2 hours before planting, but no longer than a full day. After planting, use a hose to water the roots, collapsing any air voids.
You may also firmly tamp the soil around the site as you backfill the hole, tucking the soil around the roots and preventing big air pockets from forming.
Don’t smash it. Just apply the right amount of pressure.
5. Don’t forget to water regularly
Newly planted fruit trees need regular watering. Unless your place is experiencing heavy rains, your new trees must be watered as often as possible. You can water daily for the first 2 weeks after planting and every 2-3 days for the next 2-3 months.
After adjusting, just water the trees when needed, especially during the dry season, until they become well-established, regularly check the soil at the base of the tree to ensure you water just enough.
6. Stake your fruit trees
Staking your new fruit tree is essential to keep it vertical while they become established. It’s specifically required for dwarf trees. Staking also keeps the root immobilised, so the new roots won’t be affected by the tree moving or tipping over.
Place the stake about a foot from the tree after planting. You can remove it once the tree is established and can stand independently.
7. Prune if needed
Many would ask if pruning is necessary for young trees. Well, yes, but only when needed. Pruning can help shape the tree and reduce moisture stress from digging and transplanting. Tip pruning also stimulates the tree to grow more roots and start the process of producing buds and shoots.
Pruning may be much needed during the first year of planting, but as long as it’s done adequately and properly, little to no pruning will be necessary for the coming years.
8. Mulch for beneficial bacteria
Mulching is essential for your new fruit tree. A good mulch ring around your tree will help conserve soil moisture and block weeds. This can improve the biodiversity of the soil and encourage healthy root growth.
Create a mulch ring about three feet from the base of the tree. It’s important to avoid mulch touching the tree trunk as this will promote rotting. You can use any organic material like wood chips, grass clippings, dried leaves, and compost in 2-4 inches thick mulch.
While fruit tree growing and maintenance can be tricky and difficult, it’s always gratifying, especially when biting into the first freshly picked fruit from your tree.
Paying attention to our tips above will help your new tree survive and yield a better fruit crop!