In the orchard
Image by Carolyn Herriot
When pruning remove dead, diseased and damaged first, then criss-crossing branches and those growing into the centre.
Tip: prune any long branches which may snap under the weight of fruit. Prune no more than 30% at a time.
Dormant sprays burn tender new leaves when the buds unfurl, so only spray before this happens. Use lime sulphur (8 Tbsp.)and horticultural oil (4 Tbsp.) mixed in 3 litres of water in a pressure sprayer. Spray trees on a dry day with no wind for drift. Cover trunk and limbs on all sides. Lime sulphur acts as a fungicide to destroy fungal spores; the oil smothers insect egg masses.
After spraying, band trees with burlap sacks or old towels and smear Tanglefoot sticky paste over the bands. These trap crawling insects as they climb trunks to lay eggs that hatch into maggots that eat fruit.
This is a good time to weed and feed the soil around your fruit trees. I use uncontaminated woodash from the wood stove and my 'Super Duper' compost mix, which has seaweed in it. Granular seaweed works well as a fertilizer for fruit trees.
The chickens have been free ranging in the orchard, which makes a bit of a mess, but it's worth it for the bugs they eat and the manure they leave behind!
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