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Here are some good basic things you can do for the trees.
Fertilize the young tree with a nitrogen containing fertilizer such as 1 pound of 10-10-10 or its equivalent about 6 weeks after planting. In the second year, add 3/4 pound of the fertilizer in the spring and another 3/4 pound in early summer. Seeding the lawn around the tree with white clover as well as grass, or with bird's-foot trefoil or crimson clover, will provide extra nitrogen. (Clover and trefoil are nitrogen-fixing legumes.) Once the tree starts bearing, it shouldn't grow quite as vigorously and won't need as much nitrogen.
From the third year on, mature trees need about 1 pound of actual nitrogen per year, applied in the spring when growth is starting. Slowing the tree's growth is a good way to make it stronger, more winter hardy, and longer lived. Don't apply fertilizer within 2 months of the average first fall frost, and let the lawn grow up around the tree in late summer and early fall. Don't apply any more water than necessary at this time and never prune in the fall.
Peach Tree Care
To prevent winter sunscald, you can paint the trunk white. Remove any mulch from around the base of the tree to avoid attracting rodents and place a mouse guard around the trunk if necessary. In late winter or early spring, after the ground has thawed, put a heavy layer of organic mulch around the trees to keep the soil cool - this will delay blooming.
Train peaches to an open center and prune annually. Remove dead or diseased wood first, then any branches growing straight up or droop down. Peaches and nectarines bear fruit only from lateral buds on 1-year-old branches. They need more dormant-season pruning than other fruit trees to stimulate growth of new fruiting wood each year and to keep the fruiting wood closer to the trunk. When bloom is heavy, lightly head back the longer fruiting branches to reduce the fruit load and prevent branch breakage. Summer pinching helps control tree size, encourages formation of next year's buds, and improves fruit quality. When the tree is 5 or 6 years old, remove all the wood produced in the previous 2 years. This will keep the tree from growing too tall and will restore vigor to the older wood.
About 4 to 6 weeks after bloom, thin some of the excess fruit if you have an abundant crop. Remove and destroy any fruit with signs of insect puncture. Thin so the fruits are spaced 6 to 8 inches apart on the branch. The remaining fruits will be larger and sweeter than they would have been without thinning.
- Not every apple grows everywhere. Each variety has a specific number of days needed for fruit maturity.
- Tree tags don't always tell you where the variety grows best, XXXXX XXXXX catalogs do. Also, check your county extension office for a specific recommendation for your area.
- As a general rule, if a tree is termed hardy, it grows best in Zones 3 to 5. If termed long-season, apple quality will be best in Zones 5 to 8.Each variety has a number of chill hours needed to set fruit (i.e., the amount of time temperatures are between 32 and 45 degrees F). The farther north you go, the more chill hours an apple variety needs to avoid late spring freeze problems.
Site and Soil
- Choose a sunny site. For best fruiting, an apple tree needs "full sunlight," which means six or more hours of direct summer sun daily. The best exposure for apples is a north- or east-facing slope. Pay attention to the soil. Apple trees need well-drained soil, not too wet. Soil needs to be moderately rich and retain moisture as well as air; mulch with straw, hay, or some other organic material to keep soil moist and provide nutrients as they decompose.
- Dwarf apple trees are notoriously prone to uprooting under the weight of a heavy crop, so you should provide a support system for your hedge. You can grow your trees against a fence, or you can provide free-standing support in the form of a trellis.
- Cross-pollination occurs between varieties, so you need at least two different varieties, not just two different trees.
- If you lack space for more than one apple tree (or do not want more than one), the pollen came come from somewhere else. You could graft a single branch of another variety onto your tree, rely on a nearby neighbor's tree or crab apple tree, or snip of a flowering branch from another variety at bloom time and set it into a bucket of water at the base of your tree.
- For best results, include a 'Grimes Golden', 'Golden Delicious', 'Red Delicious', or 'Winter Banana' in your planting. These varieties are known pollinators.
- Nursery catalogs will provide pollination charts.
- .Minimize Pruning of a Young Tree
Pruning slows a young tree's overall growth and can delay fruiting, so don't be in a hurry to prune, other than removing misplaced, broken, or dead branches. There are several techniques to direct growth without heavy pruning. For example:
- Rub off misplaced buds before they grow into misplaced branches.
- Bend a stem down almost horizontally for a few weeks to slow growth and promote branches and fruiting. Tie down with strings to stakes in the ground or to lower branches.
Prune a Mature Tree Annually
Once an apple tree has filled in and is bearing fruit, it requires regular, moderate pruning.
- Prune your mature tree when it is dormant. Completely cut away overly vigorous, upright stems (most common high up in the tree).
- Remove weak twigs (which often hang from the undersides of limbs.
- Shorten stems that become too droopy, especially those low in the tree.
- After about ten years, fruiting spurs (stubby branches that elongate only about a half-inch per year) become overcrowded and decrepit. Cut away some of them and shorten others.
- When a whole limb of fruiting spurs declines with age, cut it back to make room for a younger replacement.
- Thin or remove excess fruit. This seems hard but this practice evens out production, prevents a heavy crop from breaking limbs, and ensures better-tasting, larger fruit crop.
- Soon after fruit-set, remove the smallest fruits or damaged ones,leaving four inches between those that remain.
Apples are prone to pests. Here are some pointers:
- Keep deer at bay with repellents or fencing; deter mice and rabbits with wire-mesh cylinders around the base of the tree.
- Sprays may be needed for insects, although one of the worst culprits, the apple maggot, can be trapped simply enough by hanging one or two round, softball-size balls, painted red and coated with sticky "Tangle-Trap," from a branch in June through the summer. Reapply the sticky goo a time or two, as necessary.
- Fend off diseases by raking apple leaves, burying them beneath mulch, or grinding them with a lawn mower at season's end.
- Pruning reduces disease by letting in more light and air.
Harvest Patiently. After all this pruning and caring, be sure to harvest your apples at their peak of perfection.
- Pluck your apples when their background color is no longer green.
- Different apple varieties mature at different times, so the harvest season can stretch from August to October.
- At this point, the stem should part readily from the branch when the fruit is cupped in the palm of your hand and given a slight twist around, then up.
- If the apple is overripe and soft, use for cooking!
- Apples keep well for about six months at temperatures between 32 and 45 degrees F.
- Feed your Apple Tree:
- Have your soil tested to make sure it is fertile enough for your young trees. Keep the area weeded. Make sure that the trees are getting enough sunlight and are not exposed to constant wind. Keep them watered during drought. A good mixture of compost will promote healthy growth of a fruit tree. The compost can be placed in the hole during planting or around the base of the tree. Commercial all-purpose fertilizers are also used for fruit trees. A 10-10-10 NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium mixture is the most common. Lime shouldn't be applied to fruit trees at any time, according to Ken Slingerland of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs, unless the soil is overly acidic and lime is recommended. "Excessive levels or an improper balance of nutrients can lead to poor-quality fruit and serious winter injury or disease problems.
Plant more than one cherry tree. Just like apple trees, some cherry tree varieties are self-fertile, meaning you will get some fruit even if you only have one tree, while some are not, meaning you will have to plant more than one tree so they can pollinate one another. But you will always get more fruit if you plant more than one tree.
Apply fertilizer evenly under the spread of the branches when growing cherry trees. Do this about a month or two before spring growth starts. Use less for a young tree and more for an older cherry tree. A good 10-10-10
Prune In the spring. Cherry trees can be pruned in a fan shape or a bush. For the first 3 years pruning is vigorous. For a one-year-old tree, prune the first year by cutting 18 to 24 inches off the main stem. This sounds harsh, but it must be done to encourage lateral growth and fruiting.
Drape the entire tree with bird netting in the summer to protect the fruit from birds. Pick sweet cherries when ripe and cut off sour cherries to avoid damaging the spurs.
Mulch your cherry tree in the fall with a layer of garden compost. This will help protect the surface roots from frost and encourage healthy spring growing
Most varieties of cherry tree prefer moist soil. One exception, the Sergeant Cherry, can tolerate drier conditions. Until a watering pattern has been established, it is helpful to probe the soil around the tree about three inches (8 cm) deep. If the soil is dry, the tree is in need of water. Performing this action regularly will help determine how often the cherry tree should be watered.
An all-purpose fertilizer with high nitrogen content should be applied to the base of the cherry tree in the spring. The best way to apply fertilizer is to spread it in a circle around the base of the tree, being careful not to allow any to settle on the trunk. The fertilizer will penetrate the soil and provide the necessary nutrients to the roots of the tree. There are many different fertilizers formulated especially for cherry trees which may result in larger blossoms and higher fruit production.
Pruning a cherry tree should be done in the spring, after all threat of frost has passed. They don't require as much pruning as other fruit trees. However, some maintenance is required to prevent disease, and allow light and air to penetrate to the center of the tree. All broken, dead, or diseased branches should be removed, and weak or crossed branches should be trimmed lightly. Side branches can be cut back to the main branch to promote new growth.
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