Advice for Fertilizing Bare Root Fruit Trees

Advice for Fertilizing Bare Root Fruit Trees


Hi I’m Tricia, an organic gardener. I grow
organically for a healthy and safe food supply, for a clean and sustainable environment, for an enjoyable and rewarding experience. Spring is on the way and the fruit trees are
ready to bloom. Just before bud break is the perfect time
to fertilize. Not every tree needs fertilizer every year
nor in the same amounts, if you fertilize too much you’ll get too many leaves and
shoots and not enough fruit. Luckily the tree can tell you what it
needs. To find out if your fruit tree could use a
fertilizer boost start out by locating last year’s growth rings. Measure from the growth ring all the way out to the end of the branch. Measure several spots around the tree and average them together to get your number
for average growth that the tree had last year. There are target growth rates for different
species and whether the fruit tree is non
bearing, which means a young tree that did not set a crop last year or if it’s
bearing. If your trees have been heavily pruned or your last year’s growth is longer
than the target growth don’t fertilize. If last year’s growth is in the middle of the target growth you can either not fertilizer or
fertilize with a lower application rates. If last year’s growth is on the low end of the target growth
or less than the target growth fertilize at the full application rates. The amount of fertilizer to give your
tree depends on the age and size of the tree. The maximum a tree needs is one-tenth of
a pound of actual nitrogen per year old or per inch of trunk diameter
measured a foot above the ground. Don’t give your trees more than one
pound of actual nitrogen in one year. Use an organic high nitrogen fertilizer blood meal, soybean meal, chicken manure,
cottonseed meal and feather meal are some great organic nitrogen sources. or you can use a fertilizer that’s
specifically for fruit trees like this E.B. Stone citrus and fruit tree food. For micro nutrients use compost. The NPK numbers on fertilizers show
the percentage of nutrients per pound of fertilizer. N,P and K refer to actual nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. For example my five-year-old apple tree needs a half
a pound of nitrogen fertilizer. The E.B. Stone fruit tree fertilizer that is
seven percent nitrogen or you can think of it as point zero
seven pounds of nitrogen per one pound of fertilizer. Half a pound or point five divided by the percentage point zero seven gives me seven pounds, which is the
amount I should apply. Based on the calculations my tree needs a
pound and a half of fertilizer which is three cups. The easiest way to do it is
to sprinkle the fertilizer around the tree and then rake it in and water deeply. Don’t start fertilizing next to the
trunk, start a foot from the trunk and spread the fertilizer evenly all the way
out to the drip line. The drip line is the perimeter of the
trees farthest reaching branches. Another very effective but a little bit more
difficult way to add fertilizer to your fruit trees is to drill a series of small holes so
that the fertilizer can get right to the roots. Dig the holes six inches down and
twelve to eighteen inches apart from a foot outward from the trunk to the drip line. Sprinkle a little of the fertilizer
you’ve measured out according to the recommended rates in each hole and then
cover up with soil. There are a lot of nutrients like
phosphorus and mycorrhiza that don’t travel well through the soil this insures that you get these
nutrients right down to the root zone, where they can do their best work. After fertilizing add a one inch layer of
compost so that you get all the micro-nutrients you need. Don’t fertilize in the fall because that can
stimulate new growth that might get damaged by frost. In addition to nutrients the trees need
oxygen and if you live in an area with
compacted soil, you may want to try this tree and shrub aerator which will deliver
oxygen directly to the roots. Poke it into the ground about six inches down and
turn on the water continue to push it into the ground when you see a foamy combo of air and
water come up to the ground it’s saturated and your done. Fertilize with care and your trees will grow big and strong. Grow organic for life!