Nova Scotia Apples - Planting and Care of Fruit Trees
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Planting Fruit Trees | Rejuvenating Fruit Trees

Planting and Care of Fruit Trees

In order to assure the successful establishment of fruit trees in the home garden, there are a number of important steps which must be followed.

Purchasing Trees
Buy only trees from a reputable source which have been properly stored and displayed. Avoid small caliper trees, or trees with obvious abrasions, broken branches, or show signs of being dried out. The number of branches is unimportant, as most will be removed at planting. Take the tree home immediately and store it in a cool, shaded location. Water the roots, but do not soak the tree in water. A tree may be stored several days in this manner.

Choose a well-drained location away from any high traffic areas, or any area where it may interfere with snow removal. Dig a hole with a shovel sufficiently large to accommodate all the roots without bending. Place the tree in the hole with the graft union about three inches above the soil surface. Fill in around the tree, placing the best soil in contact with the roots. Compact the soil as the hole is filled to ensure good soil-root contact. Now water the tree with at least five gallons of water, then water again. Water every two to three days in dry seasons.

Fruit trees will not prosper and may die if not cut back severely at planting. Cut back the tree to about 24"-30" above the soil surface. Remove all but three or four well-spaced branches, which will become permanent limbs. Cut these remaining limbs back by about one-third.

In following years remove any branches competing with the top, and trim the tree in the shape of a Christmas tree, with strong branches in the bottom, and progressively smaller ones towards the top. Remove any branches that exceed one-half the diameter of the trunk at their point of attachment, as these will restrict the growth of the trunk.

Fertilizer and Weed Control
Do not put any fertilizer in the planting hole. Evenly spread about 4 oz of a balanced fertilizer, such as 17-17-17, in a circular pattern around the tree after planting. Keep the area within three feet of the tree clean of weeds and grass by hoeing or mulching. Mulching will also help preserve water and supply some nutrients.

Trunk Protection
Wrap the lower 24" of trunk with a plastic tree guard or screen mesh each fall to avoid rodent damage. Remove this covering each spring to avoid bark diseases from becoming established under the covering.

Pest Control
Refer to Home Garden Spray Schedule previously published by the former Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture and Marketing for products and recommendations, or visit your local garden centre.

For more information see Planting and Care of the Young Apple Orchard

Visit AgraPoint to find production guides, fact sheets and more for a number of crops including Tree Fruits.

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