November Fruit Tree To Do List

November is when the summer fruits really get a roll on – grapes, currants and berries are forming revealing the harvest to come. Keep an eye on these new fruits because birds + pests will be just as aware! Your daily walk is essential if you want to keep your fruits in best health. It’s incredible how a little pest squashing everyday keeps pests at bay.

  • Shield bugs may be moving in on berry fruits and can be sorted with daily digital control. The advantage of not spraying is that predatory insects get a look in, but if populations are already large at this early stage, do a burst of Neem.
  • Passionvine hopper juveniles – the white little fluffy bums – are best managed while young before they become impervious adults. A good case for Neem, if populations are usually large at yours. Get onto it now, and break the cycle.

Let the grass go

crabapple blossoming in long grass in the orchard

What an awesome habitat we give our fruit trees when we let the grasses and wild plants go. It’s a home coming for them to exist in a networked, diverse, perennial groundcover. Oh the life that comes! Put away the mower and god forbid the sprayer and experience nature as she intended.

Grass left long provides habitat for insects that are kin to your land, and is an amazing support for young trees through summer. Tuck up inside some long grass, and feel the protection for yourself. Lay back, listen to the hum…. its nature at her finest.

As grass grows taller, the roots dive deeper – opening heavy soil and holding sandy ones. The more roots in your soil, the broader the range of soil biology – that below ground network upon which the health and rigor of your garden depends. Build biology in the simplest of ways by letting your garden go. Don’t worry about trees being starved of nutrients – far from it, plants collaborate, sharing resources and warning each other of pest + disease.


too many pears! they need a thin

Pears and apples are setting now and plums, apricots and peaches well on their way. Thinning is, ideally, on your mind. Its an orchard job that I rate above nearly all others – the difference to your trees health, productivity and the quality of your crop is huge.

As fruits reach marble size – remove the excess in order to improve the remainder. It’s a quick easy job once you get the hang of it. If your trees are young, remove them all. Drop the thinnings as you go, to return the carbs to the tree.


raspberry flowers and young fruits forming

Raspberries + Blackberries
Attach fruiting canes to the frame/ wires and check in on bee activity.
Are they mulched and summer ready? A mixed, mature (ie not hot!) woodchip is ideal here.
Be ready with bird protection – the first raspberries will be ripe soon enough.

Pluck off the flowers of any little plants that are valiantly putting them out so they can instead, put their energy into a bigger canopy. Its better to have a goodly rosette of leaves before letting flowering commence. More flowers will come, and with more resources at play – fruiting will go on longer and fruits will be better by far.
If you haven’t already, spread well rotten manure or homemade compost at their base and top it off with a mulch.
Set up birdnet. Cloches or a simple frame of your creating is the way to go if you dont have a berryhouse. Whatever you create, be sure you can access the crop easily, if not the daily harvest can be a pain.

Disease check

Blister mite on pear tree – looks unpleasant but its not very serious!

Keep an eye out for disease – blistering leaves, holes, discolourations – just in a relaxed, noting it, kind of way.
Before you reach for google + complicated diagnosis, check in to be sure the basics are being metappropriate drainage, diverse herbal ley, woody mulch, zero herbicide and a variety well suited to your place. Peaches, for instance aren’t beloved of my high spring rainfall, heavy clay combo. I grow them, but accept all the fungal issues as par for the course.
New orchards are more susceptible to imbalance. Be patient – there is much to settle in when we create new environments. The worst thing you can do to a diseased deciduous tree, is react with feeding. Woody mulch and words of encouragement are all it needs right now.
Take a photo each week, as the disease progresses. That way you can clearly speak to the whole process, through the seasons and are better placed when you seek advice. Most issues are either weak spots in your set up, or environmental. Either way, focus on building an awesome system, not so much the disease.

Avocado Harvest

testing avocados for size by holding them around the middle

Avocado season is in! Pick them with a bit of stem in tact for long keeping. And no need to pick them all at once, they hang beautifully on the tree.

Choose the fattest ones. Hold an avocado round its widest bit, its belly – and when there’s a goodly gap between thumb and fore finger, pluck them off with some stem intact.

Harvest as many as you’ll eat in a week. Do this each week and this way you’ll always be walking into ripe avocados – what a treat! As the weather warms, the length of time it takes them to ripen speeds up. Last month they were buttery and black in 14 days and now they’re taking about 10.

I keep some in the cool of the pantry and some on the table where its warmer to stagger the ripening.

Plant Citrus + Avocados

a young orange tree protected by long grass
A young orange tree, well fed and mulched and tucked up inside long grass for best protection

Its a great time to plant heat loving subtropicals -like avocado tamarillo, passionfruits and citrus. (Use these same parameters for tamarillo and passionfruit.)

Citrus and subtropicals hate the cold, which is why we delay planting new trees until weathers and soil warm. This way they’ll flourish in their first season, stretch roots out and are a bit bigger and settled in before having to tackle their first cold season.

Biological Sprays

Give fruit trees, and indeed your whole garden a biological spray. A coating of beneficial fungi and bacteria to promote diversity, immunity and all round strength. Its all about who fills the space – the good guys or the bad. Simple as that, so load your trees up with the good ‘uns!


  1. biological spray link doesn’t work

    • Wopsy – thanks Owen will get in there and fix it up. Appreciate knowing.
      Should it happen again, you can search for it using the search bar at the top of the page – big mission keeping a website sharp and up to date!

  2. Hi Kath,

    I really love your blogs and deeply look forward to the start of the month. I’m a bit confused about letting grass grow around my trees as everywhere I look I’m being told it’s really bad and to keep it away. I’m currently on the look out for a good ground cover for our young feijoa hedge for example (and advice would be greatly received 😊). I was really interested in your earlier blog regarding EM and recently read it’s the same as my bokashi but is that the liquid that comes out of the bin or the sawdust? I’m keen to start using it now i think I have the raw materials.

    Thanks so much

  3. Tracy Buchanan says

    Hi Kath,
    What do I do about curly leaf on my Peach trees? We have one small tree that is particularly bad and others that have a little bit. Thanks.

  4. Lianne Coley says

    Hi Kath
    Our Hawera Plum, which is always dependable, hardly has a leaf on it this year, never mind any fruit. It did have plenty of blossom but then the Polar Blast in early October hit. Could this be the reason? We are in northern Horowhenua.

    Many thanks

    • Usually so dependable, Hawera, but yes that cold blast certainly impacted my plums this year. Good on you for tying the 2 together. Pears and apples are doing brilliantly but the early fruits had it tough this year didnt they. K x

  5. Kia ora Kath,

    So grateful for your wealth of wisdom so generously shared – as a kindergarten gardener it is hugely valuable and very much appreciated!

    My question today is about pruning apricot and cherry trees, as I’ve read conflicting advice about when to do so. I didn’t touch my apricot trees for the first two years to let them get established, however they definitely need it now. They’re in 40L evergrow bags and are now really quite tall, and in addition I need to take action on branches that have some gummosis and shotgun leaves. I fear bacterial canker & as well as removing the affected parts, am getting underway with a weekly biological spray regime of EM/comfrey tea etc as you recommend.

    The cherry trees (both compact stella) are well established, and as well as similar concerns about gummosis which need attention, will need a height reduction soon.

    Many thanks for your advice 🙂

    • I should have added that I live in the Wairarapa where we are currently experiencing a wet warm spring, so I am reluctant to prune if it increases the risk of spreading disease, and especially the suspected canker. Thank you!

    • Its tricky getting advice online – as different parts of the world have different weather patterns and these influence the advice given. You are correct though – pruning now is the worst idea, the bacteria are at their most active in cooler and wet weather – best to wait for drier, hotter times. Is it possible Bianca to bend the tall branches down to a more horizontal position and thus avoid pruning altogether? Even if one shoot can be trained this way is a big help to the cause. Canker is worst on trees that are lacking in either nutrition or drainage – this would be where Id be looking first. Woody mulch is always a winner to minimise splash back. EM sprays an excellent assist. I have emailled you also so hopefully we can catch up and sort your issue out.

  6. Jenny Mason says

    Hi Kath
    I read one of your articles on peach leaf curl last month that recommended using an apple cider vinegar spray as a tonic for peach and nectarine trees that had some leaf curl. So I picked off the worst leaves and sprayed them. 2 weeks later I noticed that a lot of the tiny baby nectarines had been chewed. So we went down at night and found many leopard slugs on the tree. We have never noticed any damage or any slugs near the tree before and just wondered if you thought the slugs could have been attracted by the cider apple vinegar?
    On the upside, there are lots of new healthy looking leaves

    • Hi Jenny – thanks for sharing that story… love that you went out at night to check! Yes they could have been attracted this way – beer or ACV traps entice slugs. I was under the assumption that leopard slugs ate snails slugs and dead matter… didnt realise they ate living plant matter as well. Learn something new everyday! K x