Soil Fertility Needs
In order to promote healthy living soil for our fruit trees, use only organic amendments, work the soil only when it's at its optimum moisture (i.e. not too wet, not too dry), and feed the soil on an annual basis. Whether you are starting off with a sandy or clay soil, these practices will enhance both the biology and the structure of the soil.
- Clear your entire area of all weeds, grass, and plant material.
- Take a soil test and send to PVFS. Once you receive the recommendations for organic amendments, apply them to the top of your cleared soil.
- Apply 2" of finished compost (should look a lot like soil) on top of your amendments.
- Rototill to a depth of 12-18".
You are now ready for planting!
Post-planting or planting into an existing garden or orchard
If you are planting into an existing garden site, follow the planting and top dressing guide.
On an annual basis follow this program:
- Sow bell beans and oats around your fruit trees. Keep the seed at or beyond the drip line of the trees, as to not create an overly moist and/or stagnant zone for disease to develop. Either sow in late September and irrigate the seed until the rains come, or wait until the rains come and sow your seed into moisture.
Late winter/ early spring
- Cut down your cover crop at its base, leaving the roots in the ground to decompose. Use the greens as a top dressing layer.
- Top it all off with a thick (3-5") layer of mulch.
For the first few years, an application of an organic fruit tree fertilizer is essential to growing the tree at its optimum rate. Once you have achieved the desired size, rely on cover crops and compost, moving towards self-sustainability.
Remember, you can become the world's best tree pruner, but without healthy soil, it will all be for naught