Woodash + A Beneficial Mow
Lightly sprinkle lime or wood ash from the fire, over top of fallen leaves and roughly mow. Leave the clippings where they fall as a wonderful nurture for your orchard floor.
Time to Mulch
Mulch your trees, preferably with a lovely woody mixture to excite beneficial fungi. You really don’t need to put your back out (and disturb the soil kingdom) by digging the grass out. Just lay cardboard or newspaper around the base of the tree and cover with mulch. Should your tree roots be beneath a living mulch of comfrey you can skip this job – the comfrey’s got it covered.
A Super Spray
You’re building (as in “Rome wasn’t built in a day” type building), an army here. 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. The oil will smother mites et al hiding out in the bark.
Read my healthy fruit tree game plan + all about copper sprays here. Build a strong hearty orchard so that you can one day leave fungicides (copper and lime sulfur) behind.
Yippee do – deciduous fruit tree/ cane and vine fruit planting time is upon us. I hope in all the excitement of new trees, you have the basics covered – matched up pollinators, matched the tree to the right environment and located your tree/s with enough space in mind.
Working out fruit tree spacings is all about finding the goldilocks moment.
- Give more space to cool +/or wet +/or still environments than hot +/or dry +/or breezy ones.
- Plant trees as close as possible to make the most of your land, but don’t get too close that tree health suffers or access is blocked. Fruit trees need light and airflow and the gardener needs comfortable working room.
- Rootstock is the final part of the puzzle.
As for those crazy vines/ canes – how are you going to support them? Well is my hope.
… and Prune
Spend some time in your orchard doing a pre-prune ponder. Imagine the handsome look of your trees after pruning. Knowing what you’re creating before you cut results in a far better prune than head down, start chopping. Please banish that dreadful word ‘hack’ from your vocabulary. Imagine a hairdresser saying “I’ll just have a hack at it”. You’d run a mile.