-1“Love is a fruit in season at all times, and within reach of every hand.”-Mother Theresa

Growing Fruit Trees in your yard can be very rewarding. Your success in growing fruit will depend of site selection, pest management and choices of fruit types and varieties depending on your location. Apples, pears and plums are more tolerant in the Northeast.

  • Planting: Select a site in your yard with direct sunlight, enough room for growth, and well drained soil. When planting your fruit tree, you want to dig a circle 1ft. wider than the diameter of the root ball. Dig the hole deep enough to allow the tree to be planted with the graft union 2-3″ above the ground. If your soil is poor, mix in peat moss, 50/50 ratio. Trim off any damaged roots before planting. Pack soil, water tree with 2-5 gallons of water, slowly. New young trees should be staked when first planted.
  • Watering: Newly planted trees need 1 gallon of water every 7 days. If the top 2″ of soil is dry, the tree needs more water. As the tree develops and the roots system take hold, you can water less. For a juicy crop, periodically deep soaking is recommended. As always mulching around the base of the tree helps retain moisture and keep weeds out.
  • Fertilizing: After 2 weeks of installation you want to begin fertilizing. 1 ounce of Nitrogen in a 12″ circle around the base of the tree. NPK values are 3 numbers that represent the value on fertilizer that are macro-nutrients used by plants, Nitrogen(N), Phosphorus(P) and Potassium(K). 10-10-10 or 12-12-12 is recommended for fruit trees. Fertilizer high in Nitrogen comes in a pellet form, it encourages green-vegetative growth. Phosphorus helps encourage root development for new plants, Phosphate helps encourage blossoms and fruit development. Potassium helps regulate  metabolism within the tree. Fertilize trees during the growing season, keep a log from early spring until July. Do not fertilize after July because the tree needs to prepare for winter.
  • Pests/Disease: You want to inspect your trees regularly for pests and insects. Newly planted trees are prone to gypsy moths and japanese beetles. To help prevent this use a dormant oil spray during the winter months, the oil smothers the pests and the overwintering eggs. I came across this great article done at UMass Amherst for when to spray your apple trees. Buy 2 red plastic apples with stems on them, tie a string between them, then place a thin layer of vaseline on the apples. Hang from your tree, this acts as an insect monitor. When the insects arrive, they are drawn to the apples and get stuck, this means it is time to start spraying! You want to spray before the flowers open. Use a Hi-Yield lime sulfur to kill off disease spores that have wintered over on the tree. Apply Bonide All Seasons Oil to kill over wintering insect eggs on the tree, you can apply this in the spring and fall. Use a fruit tree spray every other week to maintain insect invasion.
  • Rodents/Deer: Rodents like to “nibble” on the trunk of fruit trees, along with everything else in your garden. To deter these critters from nibbling, you can apply a tree guard. It is a white plastic spiral guard you wrap around the base of your tree trunk. Deer, they love fruit trees, not only the fruit, but the leaves and branches also. You can hang bars of soap or bags of human hair from the tree or if possible tall 6-7′ fencing around the area in which the trees are planted.

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