Entering the dormant stage of the growing year
Our fruit trees and bushes have all but shed their leaves and are entering the dormant stage of the growing year. Now is the time for us to give them some care and attention to prepare them for a productive season next year. This week we will be removing the old glue bands that were applied to the trees last spring and replacing them with new ones. These will trap any pests that are in the soil and prevent them from climbing into any nooks and crannies among the branches where they could over winter. When the last leaf has fallen from the apple trees, which are still clinging on to some of their foliage, we apply a winter wash to them which will clean away and existing pests that are already in the tree.
Now that the weather is colder, a woodfire is regularly lit in the house which means that we are lucky enough to enjoy a constant supply of wood ash throughout the cold months of the year. We use this as a top dressing for all our fruits trees and bushes. The wood ash contains nutrients such as potassium, magnesium and calcium and also helps to add alkalinity to the soil. We garden on very acid soil and find this beneficial. Any excess ash is added to our compost bins. If you are not lucky enough to have access to wood ash, potash can be brought from garden centres and will do a similar job.
Our currant bushes will be pruned this week. Their bare stems help us to see the structure of the plant and this helps when pruning them into shape. The stems that fruited this year will be removed at the base and we will also take out any weak or crossing stems. We will be looking to end up with healthy stems in goblet shape with an open centre. This will allow air to circulate around the plant, keeping it healthy in the fruiting season. Fruit bushes are very easy to grow, and are very low maintenance. In return for a little care and attention now, they will reward us with a bumper crop in the summer.