Autumn Fruit Tree Care

Developing mandarin fruits are a good size and healthy Edible backyard NZ

Here’s a quick checklist of fruit tree jobs for you to ensure you are taking care of all the essentials that’ll have you grow yourself a juicy citrus crop and prep your deciduous trees for winter.

As citrus fruits develop, its a key time to be sure of good soil moisture, especially at this time of year when soil tends to be dry. Check in with the soil and if need be, give a lovely soak. Yellowing leaves may be nothing more than a sign that the soils thirsty – nutrient exchange can’t occur in a dry environ.

Once the moisture’s right, pour a lovely biological feed over the tree and soil beneath. This’ll get soil life hopping and coat the foliage in beneficial fungi/ bacteria.

young mandarin

Top up the mulch with whatever you can rustle up. Make a mixture – soil loves a diverse brew!

Recycling bigger chunks of wood or larger pruning’s beneath citrus is one of my favourite slow release ways to build beneficial fungi. This is where I tuck any big knotty lumps of wood I don’t have the energy to split for firewood.

Remove fruits from young citrus trees

Though you hate this bit, bear with – what a difference to your young 1 + 2 year old tree when you remove all the fruits! It requires great amounts of energy to raise children, energy that new trees are better served using to build a strong frame.

From year 3 onwards, aim to leave about 7 leaves to support each fruit. Just as a vague idea, not like exactly.

Rat protection

the only good rat is a dead rat

Oh how rats love citrus. Possums too. Get traps up and running now.

Deciduous Fruit Trees + Nuts

autumn leaves falling in the orchard at ediblebackyard

Autumn is natures mulching season. I love how the bigger trees now coat the ground with mineral rich leaves. Between that and the comfrey I dont have any mulching to do.

If your trees are young, top up the mulch with leaves or a lovely woody mixture to excite the beneficial fungi. Dont disturb the soil kingdom by digging grass out, just lay cardboard on top of the grass and spread mulch on top. Unless of course, your tree roots are beneath a living mulch of comfrey – skip the mulch, the comfreys got it covered.

Check ties on fruit trees. Remove any that were training branches to the horizontal – the wood will be set in place.

Remove stakes and ties on 2 + 3 year old trees that are now strong enough to go it alone.

Gather up walnuts and hazelnuts as they fall. Dry them in single layers in baskets or racks before storing away. Such a good value food crop!


  1. kelvin davies says

    Thanks Kath, any comments on pruning a Persimmon tree which has a great crop.

    Many thanks and take care.

  2. I havent had any fruit on my orange tree for almost 3 years. When I brought it from the garden centre it had fruit. I’ve been feeding it, putting mulch around it but still nothing. It looks like it is in great condition otherwise. What am I doing wrong?

    • First things first Angela – did it flower?

      • I havent seen any flowers on it….

        • Ok so this here is your first problem! Without flowers, there be no fruits.
          Ideally young fruit trees aren’t allowed to grow fruits – ie the grower plucks of all fruits until the 3rd year when the canopy and structure is developed. Fruiting too young wears them out and can take a few years to recover. Give it another year ok.
          At the same time consider how you are feeding it. Too much richness will stimulate foliage at the expense of fruit. This is hard to assess online – but hopefully my citrus posts will help you through this.
          All the best

          • I did think it was abit young to have fruit on it when I first purchased it.
            Thank you for your help

  3. Anna saunders says

    Hi Kath
    I have an orchard beginning and want to move two Tamarillos into it
    When is best to do this and shall I build a shelter .
    Thanks Anna

    • Hiya Anna, depends on where you live first up. I dont recommend planting subtropicals or citrus now as we move into our coldest time of year – they love the heat! If you get frosts and live somewhere cold then I’d shelter then in your usual way over winter and move them mid to late spring once night and soil temps are rising.

  4. I only have three lemon trees … two are quite young and have never been pruned and an older one which I have very ignorantly attacked …. it is a Lisbon, I think – has beautiful juicy lemons …. but I definitely need instruction …. are lemon trees included in your pruning book ?
    I need info on disease and feeding / mulching care.
    I live in Kaitaia …. no good frosts to kill bugs 😞 …
    Thank you,