*This is a collaborative guest post
From autumn right through to spring there are a variety of functions that you should carry out in order to promote the health and growth of your fruit trees. A busy gardener never has the time to sit back, and if you prune and nurture your tree during the darkening days of autumn and winter you will be able to look forward to some magnificent blossom in the spring.
Buying your fruit trees
When you visit a fruit tree nursery in order to buy your trees make sure that you choose the right rootstock, as this will determine the eventual size of your fruit tree. Cherries, damsons, apple and pear trees all grow well in the UK’s temperate climate, you can also plant some fruit trees in winter, as long as the ground isn’t frosty. If you’re thinking of planting a tree in a container then you can wait until the summer before planting.
Use autumn to eradicate moths
Before winter sets in and you’ve harvested your fruit crop you should look for signs of winter female moths. An article in The Express describes how this pest can ruin your fruit crop, so it’s important that you ‘attach sticky grease bands to the tree before the end of October,’ to stop the moth from crawling from the ground and up the tree trunk and then eating the fruit blossom during the spring months.
If your tree is attached to a stake, make sure that you also put a grease band around the stake to stop the moth gaining access to your fruit tree trunk. You can reapply the grease bands throughout the autumn/winter months.
Pruning is a winter task
According to the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), ‘pruning should be carried out when the tree is dormant, between leaf fall and bud burst.’ If you’ve never pruned a fruit tree before, the RHS website has some excellent advice. You should use sharp secateurs, a pruning saw and loppers. Start off by getting rid of any dead or decaying branches. Once you’ve eradicated the deadwood, trim the year’s new growth but remember to allow lateral or side shoots to grow. If you have espaliered or restricted fruit trees they won’t need pruning until the summer.
Bare root trees
Bare root trees can be planted in the winter as long as the ground isn’t frosty. Once you’ve bought your tree allow the roots to soak before planting. If your garden is covered in frost and you have a tree that you want to plant, simply place it in a container of moist soil until the frost has thawed and then plant it in its place in the garden.
Many varieties of fruit
The changing UK climate means that it’s now possible to plant figs, peaches and apricots, so don’t just stick with traditional apple and pear trees. Always remember that newly planted trees will need regular watering but it is important to make sure that the soil drains easily. Fruit trees are rewarding and beautiful so why not start planting yours this winter?