It’s Time To Feed Your Fruit Trees

The orchard is waking up. Hurrah! blossom will soon be here. The trees sleep is over, and so is the gardeners. Its time to get on the job.

One of the best things you can do as fruit tree caretaker is to make sure you wander your trees regularly. Get to know them through every stage: from bud break to blossom to pollination to fruit development to harvest to leaf fall. Notice too how they respond to your pruning cuts – such helpful stuff my pruning students!

plum blossom the beginning

When those buds fatten up and show their first glimmer of pink/ white/ green it’s your sign to feed them!

If mulch is thick, pull it back and replace it afterwards. If mulch is broken down just go on top.

  • A fine layer of compost
  • A dose of gypsum
  • If your soil is on either end of the spectrum (sandy or heavy clay), or if your trees are new give a dose of full spectrum mineral fertiliser of your choosing
  • A woodsy mulch. Unless, of course, comfrey is in the house.


Get something grunty around your strawberries to get the soil jamming, and create a moisture retentive fabric for their shallow roots. I like rotten manure for this job. Compost would be my next go to.

Citrus and passionfruit

Pull back the mulch, spread a fine layer of compost and some generous dollops of rotten manure or seaweed if you are still building worm populations. Replace the mulch.


  1. Shirley Hampton says

    Kath hi, I live in Wellington and we haven’t been able to buy straw for a year or so because of the pea blight that affected the Wairarapa I think it was. The ban on selling it is for 2 years so a year to go. My compost is mainly vege scraps and soil so not as good for using as a mulch. What else could I use as a mulch around fruit trees and strawberries.
    Thanks very much

    • Hi Shirley
      Nice to hear from you!
      Yes – good not to use compost as mulch… it needs to be kept moist in order for the goodness to be usable.
      I like to make my own mulch mix up from whats I’ve got around. Its also a great idea to alternate mulches from year to year.. prevent disease build up from one particular thing, also the variety is way better for your soil life (the main reason we mulch in the first place)
      Fruit trees do well with something woody in the mulch mix. These are the things I use – well rotted sawdust (excellent for strawberries), wood shavings (not nuggets), leaves, bracken, pineneedles, trimmings off woody herbs like rosemary, lavendar or rotted hay. My preference is to mix a few together. This mix makes for the very best mulch! This article may help you
      Also if it suits your place comfrey is the ultimate fruit tree “living mulch”
      You can also use a physical barrier around your strawbs – black plastic, weedmat, hessian – whatever tickles your fancy. Peg it down with tent pegs. Helps keep the fruit clean and the slaters and slugs not so keen!
      Hope this helps Kath

      • Shirley Hampton says

        Kath hi, that’s great thank you. Lots of tips to keep me going thanks. I have plenty of woody things I’ve cut up and left by the hedge so will use those.

  2. julian Batchelor says

    What’s ‘rotten manure’…manure is already rotten is it?

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