Boost your fruit trees this autumn

autumn leaves falling in the orchard at ediblebackyard

Leaves are turning gold and starting to fall, marking the end of a cycle of growth and the beginning of another as the leaf donates its goodness back to earth. All those tiny openings left by detached leaves makes it a prime time to get a biological (or copper if that’s what’s needed), spray on.

Do this for trees that suffered fungal infections, but equally so for trees in good health. Keeping them hearty + strong happens with consistent care.

There are 2 options here.

  • Biological sprays are the cats pajamas. Nothing beats them for strong, robust, productive trees. Prevention is fun, managing disease sucks!
    My favourite mix of – EM and slow brewed NZ seaweed coats fruit trees and the surrounding ground in a crew of beneficial organisms to out-manoeuvre and out-compete detrimental fungi and bacteria. These fellas will speed decomposition so that leaf litter and fruit mummies disappear by spring when they become potentially dangerous. They also provide a boost to ‘good’ fungi for balanced nutrition. Too good! Neem can be added as an extra layer to smother/ prevent hibernating pests.
  • Copper is what we have traditionally reached for, and is a good call if fungal disease is rife at your place.

Is one way better than the other – of course not. They aren’t mutually exclusive and can tag team.

Copper is powerful and smashes fungus – good and bad, so its a short term thing to clean up over whelming populations of fungal spores. Serious fungal issues mean you need to look at your whole orchard system and chip away at improving all the layers. You can for instance, use copper in autumn and late winter and biological sprays monthly spring through autumn. It’s smart to take your herbal ley, soil health and shelter next level too because together they make a solid environment. As you build strength, fungal issues will abate and you’ll be able to leave the copper behind and stay the biological route.


Biological sprays are for building resilience long term. Those of you that connect with a whole systems approach will resonate. A small amount of fungal disease in your fruit trees can be managed this way. Make the time to spray monthly. Erratic spraying is pretty hit and miss. To reap results, you need to be whole hearted about it and regular.

A happy customer

I’ve been working with Sue up Otaki Gorge for the past few years, helping her bring her orchard to good health + production. I love working with someone who’s in boots and all, and the results speak for themselves. Its only taken her 2 years to turn her orchard around. Monthly biological sprays, pruning, building herbal ley and mulching have rewarded her with less blackspot, less leaf curl and heaps more fruit. Not a copper spray in sight. How that orchard glows with good health and vigour now!

orchard spring

Read up on my healthy fruit tree game plan here and dive into the difference between the two approaches, see my calendar of when to spray, the ins and out of each and how to create a naturally healthy orchard system.


  1. Alyson Aislabie says

    New subscriber here, thanks for your great site!!
    Re spaying my fruit trees…
    Do I wait till all the leaves have dropped off before I spray or can I spray while leaves are still there?
    Many thanks

    • Biological sprays can go on at any time Alison – I’d wait until atleast about half the leaves were off before spraying to reap a goodly benefit. If you are using copper wait until all the leaves are gone ok.

  2. Hi Kath
    Are biological sprays OK for chooks? My orchard contains the cooks.

    • Great question and safe as houses Annabelle! Both the EM and the seaweed could go in their drinking water as a tonic … thats how good these tonics are!

      • Anita Tumai says

        Hi Cath/Belle I have chooks in my orchard too and every time I mulch they just disperse it all over the place – any tips/ ideas on keeping it around the trees with chooks?

        • You can put surrounds around your trees Anita but they are awful to manage! My preference is for rotational runs so that the chooks are not permanently in the orchard. Use them when needed to clean up fallen fruit and release weeds beneath trees then remove them when feeding and mulching comes around.