Fruit trees can provide delicious and nourishing food if properly treated. Even a single tree planted in your backyard will yield edible fruits using a few simple tips.
Here are ways to care for fruit trees:
- Regularly soak the roots in water. Rain usually provides this service, but during a dry spell it's up to you to amply moisten the ground around the tree. Fruits need lots of water to turn juicy and while the tree can independently gather its own moisture through its widespread roots, regular irrigation can be helpful, especially if the topsoil is dry.
- Supply mulch. Mulch helps in moisturizing the soil while resisting weed growth. Start by tidying the space up to eight feet from the trunk around the tree. Evenly spread the mulch to a depth of four to six inches, while carefully spacing it two feet away from the trunk. Finally, place a rock border around the mulch to keep it from spreading.
- Trim off unhealthy branches. These branches can infect others with disease or pest. You should also prune off branches that comes into contact with other branches, thereby reducing excessive strain on the tree's metabolism.
- Control pests and diseases. The best time to stop an infestation is at the early stage before it grows out of control. Regularly check random leaves and branches for signs of damage or infection. Use pesticides during the dormant period as a long-term approach to combating pests. You can also spray dormant oil all over a tree in winter to choke any lingering pests or their eggs. Non-toxic techniques include manual removal of pests or misting the leaves and branches with a mixture of water and insecticidal as well as fungicidal soap. Finally, nothing beats getting your pest prevention right at the start by planting pest-resisting varieties in your soil.
- Remove immature fruit. This method improves fruit size and lightens fruit-bearing branches so that they won't snap off. Allow some distance between larger fruits such as apples and peaches; smaller growths like cherries and figs don't need to be thinned. Trees with one central trunk growing all the way to the top must be cleared of fruit that can bend that trunk.
- Keep bees around. Bees are nature's best pollinators, which encourage trees to grow a large amount of fruits. Take up beekeeping not only to pollinate your tree, but to generate your own honey supply. If beekeeping isn't in your future, you can try your hand in grafting, or manually pollinate the blossoms.
- Resist applying fertilizers. Only when you observe pale colored leaves and poor growth should you use them. Use fertilizers with high nitrogen content for bearing trees.
Allow fruits to ripen while still hanging from the tree, giving them as much internal moisture and nutrients until it is time to pick them. Don't be surprised if your fruit tree requires only minimal care, with only a few nudges to grow in the right manner required in your part.