As we enjoy the “Indian summer” weather we are also aware that this is the time to prepare the fruit garden for the winter ahead. Up here in the north, as October arrives we know that soon the white stuff is going to fly. Here are items not to be forgotten that will help your fruit garden sprout strong and healthy at winter’s end:
Autumn is the perfect time to prepare a spot for next spring’s fruit planting.
1. Take soil samples.
2. Spread lime as needed for soil pH adjustment.
3. Add compost.
4. Turn in summer green manures or cover crops to allow time for organic matter break down and nutrient release into the soil.
Take proactive steps against pests and diseases
5. Rake mulch back from bushes and tree trunks and mow grass short to reduce overwintering habitat for rodents.
6. Make sure rodent guards are resting at ground level to prevent hungry voles sneaking underneath to gnaw on tree trunks, canes, and branches.
Protect vulnerable plants in marginal climates
7. Bury tender grape vines and figs after leaves have dropped to protect from cold in extreme northern climates.
8. Move potted figs to a sheltered location.
9. Whitewash tree trunks to protect against sunscald.
Take time to enjoy the harvest
Most of all, remember why you garden and enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Harvest the last of the fall fruit—blackberries, grapes, apples, and late pears. Unblemished, long keeping apple and pear varieties can be stored in a cool, humid location or an extra refrigerator to enjoy now and in the months ahead.
Press cider. Freeze some to enjoy mulled for the holidays or try your hand at hard cider making.