Susan Poizner is a filmmaker, journalist and urban orchardist who learned how to grow fruit trees the hard way – by making mistakes! Now, after years of experimenting and learning from experts from across North America, she works as a fruit tree care trainer and consultant.
The director of Orchard People Fruit Tree Care Consulting and Education, recently shared 10 Secrets for Growing Fruit Trees with Toronto Master Gardeners at the TBG. Here they are:
- Choose the Right Location
- Fruit trees need sun, shelter, good quality soil, 1 foot deep drainage and access to irrigation. Fruit trees don’t like wet feet.
- Susan recommends that you dig a hole and check the soil before you even buy a tree.
- Order the Right Tree
- Look for varieties resistant to such diseases as: apple scab, powdery mildew, fire blight, cankers, black knot (plums), leaf spot (cherries), brown rot (cherries),
- Good apple varieties include: Freedom, Liberty, Nova Mac, Red Free, Sweet 16, Wealth (heirloom), Winesap (heirloom).
- Mix varieties up to enhance pollination.
- Check final tree size.
- Irrigate Correctly
- Water young trees at least twice a week.
- Use at least three buckets of water per tree.
- Water slowly.
- Avoid sprinklers as they can spread disease.
- Feed Your Trees
Mulch (approx 1 inch) in spring. You want them to go dormant in fall.
- Administer Correct Annual Pruning
- Goals: to prevent disease, improve air circulation, prevent damage to branches, produce a solid fruit and provide structure for your fruit
- Prune in winter to promote vigorous growth
- Prune in summer to control disease and prohibit growth
- Monitor Your Trees
Know what you are looking for, such as: canker, black knot, fire blight, apple scab or pear trellis rust.
- Practice Good Hygiene
Always clean up fallen fruit and diseased leaves
- Use Organic Sprays
Such as lime sulphur and dormant oil
- Use Orchard Sox
Nylon barrier socks cover individual fruits and prevent insects from laying eggs under the skin of the fruit
- Learn More
Susan Poizner teaches a certificate in beginner fruit tree care online at www.orchardpeople.com.
Susan is the author of the award-winning fruit tree care book Growing Urban Orchards and the host of the monthly fruit tree care radio show and podcast, The Urban Forestry Radio Show on RealityRadio101.com.
Photos courtesy of Lorraine Hunter and www.orchardpeople.com