Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
April, 2010
Regional Report

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Remove every other peach so they'll have enough space to fully mature.

Spring Care For Fruit Trees

The weather from now through June is ideal for planting citrus, avocados, and other tender trees such as kumquats and pomegranates, as well as kiwi vines. In frost-free areas, also try cherimoya, guava, mango, and passion fruit. For containers, be sure to choose dwarf types, and use as large and as deep a container as you possibly can. When choosing citrus trees, look for ones with many strong branches, a smooth graft union, and deep green leaves.

Prune out frost-damaged wood on established trees once they have completely leafed out. Then you can easily see just what wood is dead. If you're in doubt wait another month, to avoid pruning wood which was just late in leafing out. By mid-summer, any remaining deadwood will be obvious.

Feed all trees heavily for strong growth and good fruit production. Topdress with compost and fertilizer high in nitrogen (fish emulsion, chicken manure, cottonseed meal, blood meal), and phosphorus (bone meal and rock phosphate). Keep composts, manures, and fertilizers at least six inches away from tree trunks.

Start thinning excess fruit set on trees and vines to ensure better development of the remaining fruits with less strain on the tree. This is especially important for those trees bearing fruit for the first or second time. Allow a spacing of five inches between peaches on opposite sides of the branch, and three inches between plums and apricots. Thin peaches before the fruit reaches the size of a quarter for the greatest benefit in size and flavor of the remaining fruit.

Be ruthless in your thinning. The fruits may be small now but they'll take lots of the tree's energy to mature. You don't want to stress the tree to produce fruit you won't eat because there's too much ripening at one time. Even if you remove three-quarters of the fruit that set, you'll have more than enough to eat!

Paint tree trunks with light-colored indoor latex paint to prevent sunburn damage. Use an inexpensive brand, or thin down an expensive one to a solution of half water and half paint. This is the one time when "cheap" is best.

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