October Fruit Tree To Do List

river peach tree blossoming in october

Loads to do in your food garden – both the vegie garden and fruit trees need you this month! Plan the weekends at home and get the family on board to work up a storm. It’ll set you up for a productive, healthy season ahead.

All of Septembers jobs still apply – rinse and repeat – especially your monthly biological spray + regular walks in the orchard to keep abreast of flowering, bee activity and pollination. Check the to do list here for a quick refresh + reminder.

Spring pruning: Passionfruit, Tamarillo and vigorous stonefruit

passionfruit flowers on new seasons lateral shoots

Now’s a great time to prune Passionfruit and Tamarillos. And if you didn’t get around to managing the height in your plums and peaches last month, get onto it this month.

As leaves start arriving on your deciduous fruit trees, check to see whether or not you need to thin a few more shoots or branches for light + air.

Give citrus a spring feed

Stasuma mandarins are ready when the skin feels loose when you squeeze them

Feeding citrus out of a bag has become such the norm that many of you worry that natural feed isn’t enough, but it really is! Artificial fertiliser damages soil life and structure and is often the reason for large populations of sucking insects getting a hold.

Natural stuff that the soil knows and understands builds hummus and a strong population of soil life for better balance by far – less pests, less disease and in the long run – less fert required.

Rotten manure or seaweed and/ or homemade compost are my top picks here. Buried fish waste also features strongly in my soil management plan because we get alot of it from our diving and fishing buddies. Here’s how to feed citrus throughout the year.

Plant Citrus, Avocado, Tamarillo + Passionfruit

Avocado protected

Once risk of frost has passed – this month or next, get onto your avocado and citrus planting. Use all the same parameters to choose good locations for tamarillo, passionfruit and any other subtropicals you are playing with.

Citrus and subtropicals hate the cold, which is why we delay planting new trees until weathers and soil are 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.

Strawberry care

plucking a flower of a small strawberry plant

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 about 10 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. I’ve used the sawdust from the chookyard this year – nicely rotten and enriched with chook manure.

Thin Stonefruit

Luisa pre thin
Way too many fruits on this Luisa plum!

Thinning is about removing the excess in order to improve the remainder. Its a job thats often overlooked, and yet it makes a huge difference to this years fruit quality as well as steadying the tree for more consistent production next year.

As the first plums reach marble size – get into a bit of thinning. Its a quick easy job once you get the hang of it and will stand you in good stead as over the next few months you have peaches, pears and apples coming on stream one after the other! Read all about how to thin fruit here.

Leaf Curl


Leaf curl may be showing up now in stonefruit foliage. Don’t panic! Bring the biology with biological sprays and be sure to thin excess for excellent airflow. Whatever you do, don’t feed your tree up with rich stuff like manures, and avoid artificial fertilisers too – these will only exacerbate the fungus. Step away from the fungicides – keep it steady my friends. Here are my thoughts and solutions.


  1. I used to live in Kerikeri,citrus everywhere. I lost a lemon to frost here. Still setting up my garden here,learning new lessons.

  2. Hi Kath, I have a cover crop of oats, mustard and lupins starting to flower but the oats have rust on them. Can this still be used as mulch or do I need to chuck the lot? Thanks so much for your valuable knowledge, I look forward to the beginning of each month to read your posts.

    • Such a shame isn’t it? My rusty wheat crop was for mulch too, and now I’m really on the mulch scrounge without it. Sad as it is – I wouldn’t use the oats Brenda, rust spreads like nobodies business. I’d be whipping them out as soon as poss. best Kath

  3. john stevenson says

    Hi Kath and fellow growers. We are busy eating (rather than planting) citrus at the moment, up to our armpits in the stuff. I have read not to put citrus into the compost, is that true ? If not good for the compost, what else to use all the citrus remains after juicing, preserving, marmalade etc ?

    • How delicious! Just temper the citrus with other stuff ok so its not a massive blob of skins … they are of course organic matter just like everything grown in nature so will go through all the same processes. The concern is a motherload in a wormfarm and people being too complicated/ precious about such things. Mix it up with a bunch of other stuff and then add it to your compost.

  4. Hi Kath. You mentioned you do a fungi spray that includes Fish, Neem and EM, can you please supply your recipe? Thanks.

    • Just use each ingredient as per dilution rate on the bottle and mix together in the watering can/ backpack and pour on! Too easy 🙂

    • Hi Kath. I recently bought your pruning and garden book which are amazing! I have some trees -2 apples, 2 pear, a nectarine, peach and plum to plant still. All have blossom/leaves on them (other than one apple which was an unbranched rod), should I still prune them when I plant them or hold off till later. I’m in the South Island if this makes a difference. Thank you

  5. I planted tamarillos about a year ago and after a year of spectacular growth I decided to prune them back to 1.5m high about a month ago. They have shown no sign of life since; and I’m wondering if I have killed them.. If I haven’t how much longer do you think before they bud?

  6. Hi Kath
    I bought your ‘Pruning Fruit Trees A Beginners Guide’ book and attempted to tame a pear tree that was heading for the stars. I cut the middle out of it and tied down several supple branches as suggested in the book. I did this in June. Now there are hundreds of new shoots coming off vertically. What should I do now?

  7. Hi Kath. My passionfruit vine has gone wild and is really thick, with no airflow, and growing in directions that I don’t want it to go (inc the farmers paddock where the cows can much munch on it). It feels like such a waste to prune away this growth, however would you recommend it for the health of the plant/better fruit? It got inundated with passionvine hopper last summer so airflow might help? Thanks!

    • It seems I was not very helpful first time around Katy – I hope you got brave and pruned that beast of a vine! Something I always recommend where a big passionvine prune is in the offing – is to plant a new one and start a fresh, knowing that if you ignore you’ll end up in a big tangle!

  8. Thanks Kath for your advice about spring pruning of tall plums and other stone fruit. I have a very old plum tree that grows prolifically. I have received advice from many over the years, but for the last 3 I have followed your pruning fruit trees guide, to try and bring down the height. At the moment I can see all the tall canes going straight up, so thank you for giving me permission to prune these.
    Also, thanks for your advice regarding passionfruit. I did get stuck in, but it seems never ending and I don’t think I was tough enough. Will have another go.

    • Hey Robyn – its all good my friend, take a deep breath! Remember that the harder you prune your plum the harder it bounces back, so yes remove the uprights where needed but dont forget too the magic of tying the branches down where you can into a gap. You’ll find your way – enjoy the learning is my best advice.
      Passionfruits are a case for going gently as well – especially if you live somewhere cooler. Just be curious and watch your passionfruit over the coming season – this here is the real learning! All I’m doing is providing a prompt to facilitate your own experience.

  9. Hello Kath,

    Just have a query re pruning avo trees. I have read your article about how to prune and you mention about pruning after harvest. In the comments someone asked about when to prune if there is still fruit on the tree but there is also new growth. I am in the same situation. There are still plenty of avos on the tree, but there is a whole lot of new flowering. I’d like to do some pruning – is there still time or is it too late? When is ‘harvest’ time (is there a right or wrong time to harvest?) Or do I look at each branch I’m wanting to prune and if there is any fruit on it, harvest that branch before pruning it? Sorry I don’t know if that makes any sense – very very new to gardening here.. moved into a new home with 15+ fruit trees and want to do my best to look after them!

    Quite a few of the leaves on 1 of the trees are yellowing too, is this a problem?

    Thank you Kath,

    • Hey Sarina – just jump in! Yip remove the fruit and then the branch – really you probably just need encouragement – all the info is there for you and instinctively you answered your own query. The challenge with Avos and Meyer lemons too – you’ll always have fruit at some stage or other on the go. Ideally as the blog states, prune at the end of the harvest – we are now at the start of harvest. You can still prune though and all will be well. Stick to all my advice – read it carefully and thin one or maybe 2 branches out. Also read my blog on how to grow an avocado. Cheers

  10. Hi Kath, do you have any tips for getting rid of codling moth in apple trees? Our two 5 year old trees got hit hard last year despite hanging traps and spraying with neem oil. This year I’ve added corrugated cardboard plus sticky bands around the trunks, and cardboard around the base (which I’m not convinced about at all!). Anything you specifically recommend? Thxs!

    • Hey Debby – so tricky arent they! The hard bit is getting to the larvae before they burrow in the apples – a tiny window! Madex 2 is your best bet – a natural pathogen of codling moth, target specific too which I like. Best to set up a codling moth trap. Use this to work out when to spray. Or go general and begin spraying early october if you live somewhere warm, or later if somewhere cooler and continue until December. With big populations you’ll need to do this each year to bring the population down. Worth it to do it as a neighbourhood so you all stop infesting each other!

  11. Hi Kath, I have recently moved to a new house and have inherited a few sick-looking citrus trees. The clementine, blood orange and lime trees have got yellowed leaves. I read that this can be due to a lack of magnesium and gave them a dose of Epsom salts. However, after a few weeks the leaves are still yellow. I also have another very large lime tree that has large lumpy and bumpy fruit on it and the leaves are bumpy and deformed too (It isn’t a Kafir lime). Do you have any solutions to these problems that you could advise me on please? Thank you for your newsletters and blog posts. I really enjoy reading them. All the best, Rose

    • Hey Rose, Start by getting to know your soil and climate – do citrus even suit? Have a good read through my “how to grow citrus” blog – that will tell you. Then read carefully through my “healthy fruit tree game” – and start to wrap your head around the bigger picture of your land – that’s where the answers are, not individual minerals. K

  12. Hi Kath, I have 3 heritage pear trees that are suitable for Dunedin.. Two of them are highly productive but the third grows small cracked pears with dark spots on them. Do you know what this is and is a Botryzen spray a suitable solution?

    • Hi Chris – yes likely to be scab – fungal. Especially if your other pears are doing well – that shows conditions are good and that you have chosen pears suitable to your climate. Yes, I would try Botryzen for sure.