Summer has begun to set in here along the Central Coast. For those of us with deciduous fruit trees there are some important tasks for ensuring a good summer harvest and preparing for the coming years crop. This months column will feature some of the important activities at hand. The most important task involves feeding and mulching of your fruit trees.

A well balanced high quality fertilizer will yield high quality fruit. I use Dr. Earth Organic Fertilizer in my own garden. Its applied every three weeks in small amounts between March and July. I’ve also taken to adding RTI’s Mychorizhaze once a season as it has been proven to aid in nutrient uptake. Mulching will conserve water, keep weeds down and contribute to the organic matter present in your topsoil. A high quality mulch such as Black Forest or Gold Rush will work fantastic! Another key summer gardening activity involves the thinning of your fruit on the tree. Depending on the crop, deciduous fruit requires somewhere between thirty and fifty leaves to provide the energy to develop properly. You’ll want to prune and discard fruit that looks damaged, deformed or crowded. I also recommend limited the amount of fruit toward the end of branches to avoid permanent damage to the tree.

Finally, I recommend that folks summer prune their fruit threes. Summer pruning of deciduous fruit trees keeps them a reasonable height. This is important for folks that have smaller yards and desire more varieties available for the home garden. In my dad’s orchard of twenty years, he doesn’t have any trees in excess of ten feet. I often recommend pruning early in the summer and then again in the later summer months. Early summer pruning should target dead, criss-crossing branches. I also recommend trimming any branches inhibiting fruit development. Later in the summer, your trees should be topped to a reasonable height between eight and ten feet. Here in the Salinas Valley, we are blessed with a great climate for growing deciduous fruit trees.

With the proper care and maintenance, you’ll save money at the grocery store by growing your own crop of delicious fruit. You’ll also see the health benefits of knowing exactly where and how your family’s fresh fruit was grown.


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