Guide to Spring Care

By Karen Ganey

 A Vermont winter can be harsh on young fruit trees. They have to store enough energy to withstand freezing temperatures, piling snow on brittle branches, hungry voles and munching deer. The early spring is a great time to inspect the trees for any broken or eaten branches, do a bit of raking and weeding around the base to inspect the bark and trim for optimum shape and health. Here is a list of considerations when inspecting your trees. 

 Pruning

Trim just above a growth bud being careful to make a clean cut. Sharp pruners are a must for you and the tree.  Late winter or early spring is the best time to prune because the trees are dormant, thus will respond more positively to the cuts. Do not prune during times of rain. You can follow these guidelines when pruning, but best to refer to pruning guides for full spectrum of information from proper tools, to different types of cuts. *

Always cut to a growing bud tip, so as to not leave any long stems.

Best to have 4-6 “ between branches at 45-90degree angle. 

Best to trim all branches 24”above the soil. 

 Disease

As the snow melts, the leaves of the previous season that have fallen and not decomposed yet are likely hosting spores of the apple scab. The leaves provide a perfect haven for the spores to colonize and cause the fruit to be bad. The best way to prevent scab and other diseases is increase biological groupings of fungus and bacteria to build healthy soil immunity. You can do this with biological sprays of efficient microbes made up of a diverse mix of bacteria and yeasts (lacid acid bacteria – suppresses disease and photosynthetic bacteria – take nutrients from the air). You can make these mixes with molasses and culture. For more information go to  HYPERLINK “http://www.groworganicapples.com” http://www.groworganicapples.com or Michael Phillips refere to the Holistic Orchardist, by Michael Phillips.  

You can also rake the leaves and add them to a hot compost pile until you can spray.  

 Mulch 

Keeping the perimeter of area from a 3ft – 5ft around the tree weed free allows the tree to absorb more nutrients from the soil surface and depths.  You can add compost and mulch to suppress weeds or you can cultivate these areas as gardens to include plants that are companions to each other and good for us in the form of salad, teas, and medicines. These combinations make up guilds, that are groupings of species serving many functions for both the mini ecosystem around a fruit tree, including bees and pollinators, hummingbirds, and butterfly’s. 

 *References:

The Pruning Book; Lee Reich

The Holistic Orchardist, Michael Phillips

Gaias’s Garden, Toby Hemenway

 

 

 

 

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