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Winter Recommendations

The altered winter conditions have influenced the behavior and distribution of plant and animal species in South Africa. For instance, certain plants may bloom earlier or later than usual, and migratory patterns of birds or other animals might shift due to changing weather patterns.

May seems to be the new June, and spring potentially occurring in October rather than September, can have a significant impact on plants and their life cycles. These changes can cause confusion and potential disruptions in the natural rhythms of plant growth and development.

We have nectarine trees in full flower and apricot trees with fruit. Our blueberries are flowering and fruiting now, which is much too late, so it is just a matter of time to see if they will fruit again in spring.

However, there is no rest for avid gardeners in winter, as now is the perfect time to prepare your fruit trees for summer. Winter is the time to shape the tree and to open the branches to let the sun and wind through.

It is best to prune fruit trees at the beginning of winter before it gets extremely cold. Sterilize your pruning shears before you start and during pruning to avoid transferring any pests or diseases from one tree to another. Remove all dead, dying, or diseased branches and any root suckers and branches that grow from the rootstock. Open up the branches so that there is a clear airflow.

First, remove all weeds, rotten fruit, leaves, and other debris around the trees.

As we all desire perfect harvests in summer, winter is the best time to treat fruit trees for pests and diseases. EM Multi and EM Control do these jobs organically and effectively—info on our website or our last newsletter. If you have had a bad infestation or diseased leaves and branches, spraying with copper sulfate will strengthen your trees to cope with these problems.

Remember that apricot fruit trees should be pruned in March, not winter.

Fertilising is essential for the roots to absorb and store all the vital nutrients during their dormant period. Water well after fertilising and ensure the trees remain hydrated throughout winter. Do not overwater. Fruit trees do not like nitrogen over winter. We recommend an organic fertiliser such as Talborne Fruit & Flower.

Mulching is so important to protect tree roots from summer sunburn and winter cold. A thick layer of pine bark mulch is excellent for all fruiting plants as they like a bit of acidity. Never put mulch close to the main stem, as this can cause the bark to absorb too much moisture, and it will then rot the tree.

Summertime is the perfect time to cut the main stem of a fruit tree to control its height.

As citrus trees are evergreen, the best time to cut and control them is when they are not bearing flowers or fruit. Like all fruit trees, cut the main stem to control the height. Rid the tree of dead and diseased branches that block the sun from the stronger branches. This will improve airflow through the tree and provide access to sunlight, essential for fruiting.

You can use our slow-release fertiliser, only one teaspoon in Spring and again in Autumn. A controlled-release fertiliser only feeds the plant when they need it most, thus sustaining healthy growth all year round.

Citrus trees require regular and ample watering, but they dislike having their roots waterlogged. So, make sure your citrus trees have good drainage. During flowering and fruiting, they require more frequent watering, so water well twice a week in winter, then when they start to blossom, cut back to one good watering per week. Once the fruits start forming, water them three or four times a week.

Ensure that the citrus tree roots are not overrun by weeds or grass. It is recommended to perform this task manually instead of digging close to the roots. Applying a generous layer of mulch around the tree, avoiding proximity to the trunk, and refreshing it every few months within a one-meter radius of the trunk is advisable.

Remember, limes should be picked as soon as they are ripe. Other citrus fruits can remain on the tree until needed.

It is essential to control pests and diseases before blossoms appear and once the fruits have formed. We have organic EM Multi and EM control for this. When applying pest control, it is essential to spray the tops of the leaves and, more so, the undersides of the leaves. If you see crinkly leaves, know that aphids are busy. They especially enjoy new leaves.

Another way to naturally deter pest control is with companion planting. Planting certain herbs and flowers near the citrus trees but not under them. Nasturtium, Marigold, Borage, Alyssum, Basil and Yarrow are perfect companions for citrus trees.

Happy pruning and mulching!



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