Feeding Apple Trees - How
when and why?
Apple trees seem to last forever without any feed
being applied. But, there are good reasons to feed your apple trees
Trees - in their wild habitat -
are normally part of a regular recycling of natural organic matter
by way of fallen leaves and fruit rotting at the base of the tree,
thus being turned into essential food for the tree. Original apple
trees (wild crab apples) are no different - growing in hedge rows
and other scrubby areas! The 'domestic' apple tree has been bred
over many years to give the delicious fruit that we are all happy to
eat. One of the main differences being that apple trees are grafted
onto special root stocks.
In a garden situation - or even in
commercial orchards - the leaf litter and fallen apples are normally removed
to prevent the harbouring of certain pests and diseases over the winter. So,
its natural source of food is removed.
A balanced feed should be applied early
spring - similar to Growmore - or if you wish an organic feed, then Fish
Blood and Bone - or just Bonemeal will be ok. Providing you don't mow under
your apple tree, then Osmocote type fertiliser - which will release its
nutrient over the course of a full season will be good.
There is also a case for feeding in late
autumn. The Nitrogen in any food can be absorbed throughout the winter, to
build up reserves for new growth in the spring.
A balanced feed will provide nutrients for
growth, fruit and flowers, and general health of the tree. It will also
offset the effects of regular pruning. Pruning removes vital food from the
Regular feeding - but not overdoing it - is
important for the production of good crops, and it will go a long
way to prevent, or reduce - the
annual fruit drop
that starts in June.
A balance feed is best, simply because it
provides the three main ingredients for good growth and health of the tree.
You are unlikely to 'overdo' one type of nutrient, which is not always the
case if you apply a 'straight' fertiliser such as Sulphate of Potash -
recommended in most old gardening books!
An overdose of Sulphate of Potash can
result in pale leaves with accented green veins! This is because an overdose
feed of Potash, can lock up Magnesium in the soil - making it unavailable
for the tree! Don't worry if you have been feeding your apple trees with
Potash and overdone it. An application of Magnesium Sulphate - better known
as Epsom salt - will do the trick.
Where - On the ground under the apple tree,
but not near the trunk. There are no feeding roots here, so far better
to apply the feed to your apple tree at the perimeter of the tree's
branches. This is where the feeding roots are.
Why - Because it will replace the natural food
chain that is normally removed in most gardens.
When - Early spring is a good time. But late
autumn - if the weather is right for wandering about in the garden - is
also a good time - especially for 'organic feeds.
What - A good balanced fertiliser is best for
feeding your apple tree, unless you have the skill to determine exactly
what specific feed your apple trees needs.