Hi friends. It’s time to get started on fall tasks in the backyard orchard. Fall is the time of year our fruit trees begin to wind down from all their hard work producing delectable fruit for us earlier in the year. The process of storing up nutrients for next spring’s growth is well underway as the trees begin to ready themselves for their short winter rest before they get to do it all over again.
Before I get too far into my post, I want to make sure I give a warm welcome to all you John Kohler GrowingYourGreens fans visiting my blog. Thank you for stopping by and checking out my humble little gardening blog… I hope you enjoy your visit.
Before we get into the topic at hand, I wanted to quickly share with you something that happened yesterday. Mother nature decided to unload her cache of rain on us late yesterday afternoon wreaking havoc in my garden. The storm started with a bright flash of light and a loud crackling sound in the sky. I know this because I was outside gathering up the butternut squash I had curing on a homemade bench. As soon as I brought in the last squash, the sky let out an intense thunderous rumble followed by a surge of super-sized rain drops. Within minutes of entering the house, hurricane force winds blew in and started thrashing my fruit trees around violently, then it started to rain like I’ve never seen it rain before. All I could think of as I watched the downpour in disbelief was “the hundred year storm”. Most of my backyard turned into a lake with wood mulch floating around. I didn’t even want to think about what this storm was doing to my garden and orchard.
This morning, I assessed the damage.
Good news is both my front and backyard orchards weathered through the hurricane force winds and torrential downpour like champs. No broken limbs or damage, only bunches of green leaves spread around everywhere. My vegetable garden is another story. Everything definitely got jostled around and a few plants were damaged. Nothing I’ll lose sleep over.
The heavy-duty 6″ metal stakes that secured our EMT shade cloth frame securely to the ground, were uprooted and the entire unit was lifted up and moved about 2′ tweaking and twisting the pipes and disheveling our 30% shade cloth.
Most of our vegetable plants sailed through with flying colors (no pun intended), but a few plants, like my 7′ tall Molokhia (Egyptian Spinach) plant, broke in half and one of my trellised tomato plants was damaged beyond repair. Unfortunately, our roof took a hit, too 😦 It could have been a lot worse. Some clean up and yet another home repair job and all will be right in the world again.
This month’s orchard task list is a bit more relaxed than in previous months, but there are still a few critical items that need to be tended to, especially for those of you who are still harvesting. I encourage you to review both August’s Orchard Tasks list and July’s Orchard Task list before proceeding with the content below.
Do not be alarmed if some of your fruit trees start to look a wee bit haggard (browning leaves, etc.) this month. Some trees may even experience a small spurt of tip growth this time of year if the weather is still warm accompanied by a good amount of rain. No worries… things in the orchard will start to quiet down soon enough.
As I mentioned earlier, our fruit trees are still actively storing nutrients for next season’s growth. And for us, well, sadly our fruit harvest season is slowly coming to a close with only our pomegranates and Pink Lady Apples left to harvest later this month and in October. Then it’s back to buying store-bought fruit until next May 😦 This will change in the near future. We already have plans in place to extend our fruit season.
Now, let’s get started with September’s task. Most, if not all, of these tasks should be started toward the end of the month (a.k.a. ~ now). Sorry for the late post folks ~ life happened.
- Irrigation ~ continue to water 3x a week this month (15 mins for trees less than 1-year-old and 20 mins for older trees); Note: these watering times are for fruit trees that are grown ladderless and are kept at about 10 feet high or less.
- Order bare root fruit trees now for delivery in February! Put all your orchard planning into action by placing your bare root fruit tree pre-order with a reputable local nursery or online source. I pre-order my bare root fruit trees from Bay Laurel Nursery ~ they sell quality tree stock and have an awesome guarantee (which they’ve honored for us on more than one occasion).
- Inoculate your fruit tree soil with beneficial microbes ~ if you missed doing this task last month, be sure to complete it this month.
- Spray effective microbes/mother culture or aerated microbial tea directly on the ground underneath each fruit tree every 7-10 days. When making your tea, be sure to avoid using animal manures ~ too high in nitrogen.
- Broadcast microbes and minerals underneath the fruit tree’s canopy ~ I like to use John & Bob’s suite of products. You will only need to do this 1x in Fall and again in early Spring. I like to do both. I’ll start by applying John & Bob’s Penetrate product, then broadcast directly underneath each trees canopy John & Bob’s Maximize, Optimize and Nourish products. I’ll lightly cover the soil surface with either a high quality fungal-based compost (no manure) and/or worm castings then water everything in. Next, I’ll begin spraying the soil with effective microbes/mother culture every 7-10 days during this month and into October. Also, be sure to read last month’s task list about kicking soil biology into gear along with some great how-to tips.
- Add amendments to fruit tree soil ~ if you missed doing this last month, you still have time to do it this month. I always recommend applying amendments based on results from a soil test, if not… it’s just guesswork.
- Avoid digging amendments directly into the soil as it may damage the feeder roots. Lightly scratch the amendments in or simply broadcast the amendments under the fruit tree’s canopy and water in.
- Fruit and Nuts you could be harvesting this month includes…
- Now is the perfect time to prepare for fall’s orchard clean-up activities by gathering together some necessary tools…
- A wheel barrel
- Pitch fork (for spreading wood mulch)
- Metal screening (to make a temporary area for holding dried leaves ~ which is perfect “brown” material for composting)
- Order wood mulch from a local tree service for delivery in early October. We use First Choice Tree Service here in town and a truckload of wood mulch is free of charge ~ they do charge a delivery fee (around $50 or so). When scheduling delivery, be sure to request wood mulch that is free of palm, walnut (which contains growth inhibitors), and anything that has nasty painful thorns (i.e., Mesquite, Palo Verde, etc.). My experience has been that some of this stuff still makes it way into the wood mulch ~ so you just need to toss the stuff out when you come across it when spreading around the orchard floor.
- Plan your freeze/frost protection strategy now. Here in North Las Vegas, Nevada our first average frost date is typically around November 21st – 30th. There’s a lot of conflicting info out there, and some say our average first frost date is November 7th – 14th, but the most accurate info that I’ve found (based on weather trending info for this area) is plantmaps.com.
Hope this list helps in your home backyard (or front yard) orchard 😀