So that fruit trees do not degenerate into pure shade donors, they need, among other things, an optimal mix of nutrients. Only then will they stay vital and adorn their branches with delicious fruits. But over the years the natural nutrient depot inevitably becomes emptier. It doesn’t even have to come to that if fertilizing has a permanent place on the gardener’s work list from the start.

The nutritional needs of fruit trees

It is obvious that fruit trees, as loyal fruit suppliers, soak up some of the nutrients from the earth during their years of work. With every year of life, the nutrient depot in the surrounding soil shrinks due to the regular extraction. At the same time, the need of the tree grows, because with increasing age it becomes larger – it sprouts more shoots, forms more fruit. If it is to stay healthy, vital and productive, its roots must continue to successfully track down nutrients. In particular, he needs the following components, which are to be supplied to him in good time by means of suitable fertilizers:

  • nitrogen
  • Potassium
  • Phosphor
  • and other nutrients

Of course, the different fruit trees also have different requirements, especially with regard to the dosage of individual nutrients. Native fruit trees are divided into two groups:

  • Stone fruit (cherries, plums, peaches, etc.)
  • Pome fruit (apples, pears, quinces, etc.)

Soil analysis shows the current state

Every soil has its very own composition, which can also change over time. It has nutrients that are consumed by the plants and replenished again and again through fertilization. Ideally so that the subsequent mixture and quantity is suitable for the trees growing in it. But what and how much is already contained in the soil? And what and in what amount still has to be added?

  • the exact nutrient content is not externally recognizable
  • but whoever acts blindly seldom hits the right balance
  • an over- or undersupply is the order of the day
  • can damage the trees in the worst case

A professional soil analysis can provide detailed information about the nutrient composition and derive fertilizer recommendations. It is offered cheaply by various laboratories, and it is worth taking a look at the Internet. It is also not necessary to repeat this annually, every few years is sufficient.

Two types of fertilizer for fruit trees

Fertilizers are roughly divided into two types:

  • organic fertilizers
  • mineral fertilizers

Organic fertilizers are created by the decomposition of plant and animal material. Mineral substances are obtained in mining or are often produced artificially. That is why they are often referred to as artificial fertilizers.

While organic fertilizers aim at a long-term supply of nutrients by gradually releasing the nutrients, the components of mineral fertilizers are mostly immediately available for the trees.

Both types are suitable for fertilizing fruit trees, although not equally good for all types of fruit. When choosing, the advantages and disadvantages of the available fertilizers for the benefit of the tree and the environment must be carefully considered. A combination of both types is also possible.

Fertilizing with organic fertilizers

Many organic fertilizers are old home remedies that can look back on a long tradition of use. In the course of the current ecological awareness, they are becoming even more important to many hobby gardeners.

  • Compost
  • rotten manure
  • Hornspäne
  • Rock flour

So that these home remedies can fully develop the desired effect, a good soil life is necessary. Soil organisms first have to break down their constituents and make them available to the trees in a suitable form.

Tip:  Organic fruit and berry fertilizer applied by the beginning of June promotes fruit formation.

Fertilize fruit trees with mineral fertilizers

Mineral fertilizers are rich in potassium, phosphorus and nitrogen and, in smaller amounts, calcium.

  • so-called NPK fertilizers
  • for example blue grain or calcium ammonium nitrate
  • also some liquid fertilizers

They are easy to obtain from stores, while home remedies such as your own compost require some work and time. However, mineral fertilizers also involve the risk of over-fertilization. If, as often happens, not all of the nitrogen can be absorbed by the fruit trees, it ends up in our groundwater as harmful nitrate.

Optimal season for fertilization measures

The optimal time for fertilizing a fruit tree has to be found depending on the situation, but the following applies: Fertilization takes place in the season in which the tree is growing.

  • in early spring and summer
  • between February and August
  • until the formation of the shoots is complete
  • the maximum demand for cherry trees is in June
  • also of apple trees and pear trees
  • Do not fertilize these types of fruit trees afterwards
  • otherwise the shoots cannot mature in time

The autumn season and winter are less suitable for fertilization, as the fruit trees then cannot absorb any nutrients.

The age of the fruit trees

Well-dosed fertilization lasts up to a year. But the age of the trees also plays an important role in the targeted supply of nutrients. Newly planted fruit trees, for which a good basic supply has already been placed in the planting hole, do not need any further fertilization for the time being. In the case of old trees, on the other hand, it may even be necessary to fertilize twice a year.

  • Spring is the ideal season for both fertilizations
  • first in early April
  • then again at the end of May

It should also be noted that not every fruit tree has to be fertilized every year. Fertilization every two years is often sufficient. A soil analysis or expert advice can also be helpful here.

Fertilizing – explained in a few steps

The following procedure is recommended for fruit trees that are on lawns as well as for bed dwellers:

  1. Choose a suitable fertilizer and determine the amount required. For pome fruit, for example, 70 to 100 grams of horn shavings mixed with three liters of compost, per square meter of space. Stone fruit needs about 30% more.
  2. Spread the fertilizer evenly under the tree. By the way, the tree’s root system is wider than its crown. Distribute the fertilizer accordingly a little over the crown.
  3. Finally, work the fertilizer into the top layer of soil with a rake or rake. It is also ideal if the area is covered with a layer of mulch all year round.
Tip:  Dosage recommendations for mineral fertilizers are often too high, after all, the soil also has a few reserves to contribute. It is often enough if you only take two thirds of the recommended amount on the packaging.

Fruit trees with no open space

Some trees grow in such a way that not the entire area under the crown is openly accessible. Here it is important not to simply spread the fertilizer directly around the trunk. Rather, it must be worked well under the grade scar. For this purpose, holes are pierced in the ground at regular intervals with the help of a fork or lawn fan. You can sludge this first before you fertilize.

Leaving leaves and lawn cuttings lying around
The fruit trees themselves, with their leaves that fall in autumn, also provide a good way of supplying nutrients. They are one of the best home remedies. If these are simply left behind, the natural cycle with its hard-working soil organisms ensures that they are broken down into new and nutritious building blocks.

Green lawn clippings are also a well-proven home remedy and can also be left under the tree to fertilize it. The fine blades of grass dry off quickly in summer and are decomposed in no time.

Fruit trees are long-lived garden dwellers who need a constant, targeted and well-balanced supply of nutrients for their well-being. There are some tried and tested household remedies and fertilizers available to the owner for this purpose. If you make the right choice and meet the demands of the trees at the right time, you will certainly be able to harvest richly.

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