Friday, March 27, 2015

Dangerous time of the year in Colorado for fruit trees...

This is a dangerous time of year for those of us who garden and plant fruit and nut trees.  We get the most insane weather imaginable...  30 degrees one day, and it is 80 degrees the next... That is NO EXAGGERATION!  String together enough of those warm days and guess what happens?  Those wonderful trees start to wake up and they start to bud out... They try to go into early bloom... They think it is summer, after all it is 70 degrees out right?  And tonight it will drop down into the 20-30 degree range... Those poor trees, the blooms cannot handle the extreme cold and they will get frost killed... And we of course have another year with no fruit or nut set on the trees.  Sure the tree will survive, but it largely becomes an ornamental tree at that point with no productivity that we hope for as gardeners.

Now speaking for myself I am a fruitaholic....  Yes, I make words up! LOL  But I love fruit and it is very hard and expensive to get organic and healthy fruit anymore.  The stores don't have it and if they do they want an arm and a leg for it... EXPENSIVE!  So it is time to grow our own.  It takes some time for trees to get large and begin to produce... 3-5 years depending on the size of the tree you get and plant from the nursery.  So this is a long term project and it is quite heart breaking to watch the Colorado weather year after year freeze out our trees...  So here are some tips for you to keep your trees sleeping as long as possible so that they don't wake up too early.  Maybe, just maybe you will get to reap a harvest of those elusive fruits we all love here in a Colorado climate.

Here is some of the fruit they tell us we cannot grow... Peaches, sweet cherries, apricots, nectarines, and many others that I know are escaping me at the moment... Just some of my favorites is all!  LOL  Even apples, pears, and plums are challenged in the Colorado climate and have problems with the late frosts that kill the blooms.  So here are some tips that you might find helpful for new plants.

1. Select varieties that mention they bloom late.  The later it blooms the better it will be for us here in the mountains where the temp swings freeze the blooms
2. Plant these trees in the northern shade of buildings, trees, and other things that shield the location from the winter sun, but gets plenty of sun in the summer when the sun is higher in the sky.
3. DEEP MULCH!  Pile on the wood chips and other deep mulches to insulate the root system and ground around the trees.  This mulch will delay the ground warming up to the point that the tree will start to bud out early.

Now if you already have trees in the ground my tips for selection and plant location may not be much help.  But you can absolutely do the deep mulching.  Besides these trees feed from the top, the decaying wood chips will feed those trees as they break down, they hold in moisture so your trees will need less water, and they will help you to delay the tree from blooming and possibly get you through the crazy weather swings to where you too might be able to see fruit from plants they say we can't really grow reliably here.... 

I know other people in other parts of the country have similar issues with the weather killing the blooms on these trees.  So these tips should help you also. 

So it is a dangerous time for our trees, but it isn't too late to protect them from these crazy temp swings...  And possibly give you the opportunity to reap an wonderful harvest from your trees...

Take care and God Bless,

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