It’s that time of year when we should be looking at pruning and preparing our trees & shrubs for the upcoming growing season. Like most things in life, being prepared is the secret to success. There are a few preventable actions that will go a long way to ensure the best fruit crop possible.

The best thing about growing your own fruit is the ability to go outside into one’s garden, pick a piece of fruit and eat it knowing there is no chemical to wash off before enjoying!

This is why we are big proponents on preventative dormant oil spray and leaving the plants to do their thing the rest of the season. After all, if you have to spray your fruit all season long what is the advantage to growing your own? Remember: food grown without chemicals is not always as perfect and pretty as those grown with, so embrace the natural look!

Growing fruiting plants in our coastal climate can be a challenge but there are a few easy tips to help you be successful:

  1. Make sure when you plant, that you position your trees and shrubs in an area that receives lots of sunshine and use dwarf trees and plants if possible as this makes it much easier to care for your plants.
  2. Prune your plants to ensure lots of light and air to penetrate the canopy of the plant during the growing season, this helps prevent many fungal diseases that happen during wet years.
  3. In the fall after leaf drop, make sure to cleanup all fallen leaves and debris to prevent insects and disease from overwintering near your trees.
  4. After pruning in late winter – spray with a lime sulphur & dormant oil solution.  This one spray is extremely effective at eliminating over wintering diseases and insects.  The solution is made up of naturally occurring materials and is generally accepted on most organic list of approved products.  When you spray during the dormant season you put on much less spray since there are no leaves on the plants, but you also prevent the outbreak of issues before they get the chance to start. Dormant spray is made up of horticultural oil, which is a highly refined miscible oil (up to 99.9% pure) that when mixed with water and sprayed on trees will smother overwintering insects and their eggs. It targets mites, aphids, leaf hoppers, mealy bugs, leaf miners and more.  Lime Sulphur is a fungicide that controls fungal diseases like apple and pear scab and peach leaf curl.

A few more things to remember when applying dormant oil:

  1. Always read the label before starting – some plants can be injured by the spray so be sure to double check.
  2. Only mix up as much spray as you will need.  Do not leave unused spray in the tank.
  3. The oil in dormant spray can stain and the sulphur does smell like rotten eggs, so make sure to wear some protective clothing and do not spray on windy days.
  4. Spray in dry weather and when temperature is above 5 degrees Celsius.
  5. Do not spray susceptible plants – consult the label of all products you use and follow the instructions. Using any pesticide incorrectly is not only harmful to you and the environment, it can actually cause damage to the very plants you’re trying to benefit.
  6. Be sure you are not spraying too late – if the buds on your trees/ shrubs are opening (i.e. You can see green leaves forming) it is too late.

After spraying it is important to mulch the plants with a organic compost and to fertilize. Well fed, healthy trees are much more resistant to disease and insect pests!

See Also: View our Fruit Tree Guide