Caring For Your Bare Root Fruit & Nut Trees
The fundamental considerations and subtle nuances of growing and caring for trees are beyond the scope of this introduction to bare root tree care. This information is one part of a series focused on how to plant bare root trees. Please see our resource center where we offer additional instructional videos and articles, as well as our bookstore.
Fertility: Nitrogen fertilizers should be applied only after the first year.
Organic fertilizers should be applied in early spring. Please mix the fertilizer into the top 6” of the soil in a broad ring. The ring should be approximately the diameter of the trees canopy (the “drip line” of the tree). In the long-term, a balanced approach to calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, nitrogen and potassium will significantly enhance tree health, flowers and fruit quality.
Compost: High quality organic composts are also recommended as they contain a naturally balanced blend of nutrients, minerals, and probiotics.
Kelp: Natural kelp compounds are a great addition to fertilization regimes. Whether kelp is added to irrigation water or used as a foliar spray..
Avoid synthetic fertilizers as these can destroy many of the naturally occurring beneficial soil organisms that nurture healthy root systems. Synthetic fertilizers also tend to produce overly lush and unnatural top growth that attracts common insect pests and micro-pathogens.
Ongoing Tree Care
Staking your bare root fruit or nut tree may be necessary but should be done carefully. A young tree that struggles a little against the wind, without being blown over, develops tissue in its trunk. That bareroot tree will strengthen the tree as it matures.
Tightly staked trees that do not develop this tissue are at greater risk of wind damage as they grow older. Staking should provide emergency assistance to a young tree, but should not interfere with its natural capacity to resist wind.
To properly stake your tree, drive two sturdy poles deeply into the ground. The stakes should be on opposite sides of the tree from each other. The two poles and the tree should demarcate a straight line directly into the prevailing wind.
Using a plastic tie or cord attached securely to each pole, create a loose harness. This will allow the tree sufficient movement in the wind at least a few inches in all directions.
Dormant Tree Sprays
Spraying fruit trees during the dormant season is an important preventative to many diseases and pest problems. Traditionally bareroot fruit trees are sprayed three times a year:
- At leaf drop (Thanksgiving),
- During full dormancy (New Year’s)
- At bud swell (Valentine’s Day).
Disease Prevention and Organic Pest Control
There are many organic fungicides, insecticides and miticides available to control pests on fruit trees, nut crops, citrus, vegetables, and ornamentals. Each of these may be specific to your variety of fruit or nut tree. Please see our selection of organic pest control products for more detail.
For more information on planting your bare root tree, please see our resource center.