Mistakes to Avoid During the Growing Season
There are several land mines in growing fruit trees and berry plants that can be avoided with the right information and know how. Most of the common mistakes during the growing season are not catastrophic, but if avoided will lead to happier and healthier plants
1. Proper size hole and spreading of the plants roots.
The hole is the foundation of the plant, so if you can have the right size hole the plant or tree will be off to a good start.
- Most berry plants and grapevines have a smaller root system; the proper size hole should be 12 to 15 inches wide and 8 to 12 inches deep. This should more than enough to accommodate the root ball of the plant and if the hole is too deep simply back fill the hole until the root system is at its proper depth.
- Fruit trees need a hole 18-24 inches wide and 18-24 inches deep to accomodate the root system. Fruit trees with the exception of figs and pomegranates are grafted and the graft should be 2-3 inches above ground level. If the hole is too big simply back fill the loose dirt back in the hole to get the root system at the proper level.
You may ask yourself why dig such a big hole if I have to back fill the hole, the reason is when we back fill the hole is the dirt is nice and loose and the new roots will easily break through the loose dirt. If the plants that you purchase are in containers make sure you spread the roots out loosely because we do not want the roots to be in a circular shape. If the plants are bare root spread any tangled roots out and prune any broken or damaged roots.
2. Soil PH
Most fruiting plants like a pH between 6.1-6.8, with the exception of blueberries which prefer a pH in the 4.0-4.8 range. If the plant has the wrong pH, it will inhibit the plant from pulling the needed nutrients from the soil and will usually lead to yellowing of the leaves.
- To raise your soil pH 1 full point add 70 lbs. of lime per 1000 sq ft.
- To lower the pH 1 full point add 35 lbs. of sulphur over a 1000 sq ft area.
I have never liked the idea adding lime or sulphur directly to the hole or around the plant, even a small amount of lime or sulphur in a limited area may raise or lower the pH too much. I recommend taking a soil sample to your county agent or university to get the accurate pH reading. They will also advise you of needed amendments.
For plants to be in their ideal growing conditions a soil moisture level that is not too wet or too dry is needed. Over-watering in my opinion is more detrimental than underwatering. Plants are searching for oxygen in the soil not water, when you overwater there is less oxygen in the soil and this can lead to soil borne pathogens which can lead to root rot. On the other hand soil that is allowed to get too dry can lead to roots drying out and the loss of the plant. My rule of thumb is that if you can place 2 fingers in the soil about an inch deep and the soil sticks to your fingers than your soil moisture is where it needs to be.
Applying fertilizer at a high rate or too close to the plant can burn the plant or lead to salt build up in the plants. Most fertilizers have a lot of salt in their make up, if you over fertilize the salt levels in the plant can get too high and lead to slow growth or odd shaped or color of the leaves. I prefer to fertilize with less than needed but apply it frequently. An example would be instead of applying 1 lb of fertilizer on a tree, I may apply 1/2 lb and in 4-6 weeks add another 1/2 lb to the tree. The growing season is long, we have plenty of time to apply fertilizer instead of just the month of April. If you are in zones 7-10 you can safely fertilize up to early August.
There is nothing that works as well at killing grass and weeds as Round Up. But please remember that the smallest amount of drift on a young plant can burn foliage or even kill the plant. Make sure when you apply herbicides there is little to no wind and you are extra careful to not allow any spray to come in contact with tender green growth of your fruit bearing plants.
It is time to order Strawberry Plugs for October delivery. By planting
Strawberry Plugs in Ocotber you will begin harvesting sweet strawberries in the spring.
We are now taking reservations for fruit trees, berry plants, nut trees and grapevines for the fall and winter shipping season. Reserve yours early and save 10% with the Early Bird Discount. We have opened the online shopping cart or you may call (800) 733-0324 to place an order.
“lets grow together”
Ison’s Nursery & Vineyard