This morning I went for my normal weekly stroll around the garden to formulate my “To Do “ list for the weekend.
Fortunately the first thing I found was a couple of issues with my espalier apples. So if I am to save the crop I needed to spend today doing a few intervention jobs.
I found signs of eaten fruit indicating the birds have found the crop. It is usual for this time of year but it never hurts to see the damage first hand to motivate me into setting up the netting.
I also found fruit fall which led me to conclude that the trees are stressed due to this long, hot dry period we are having. Normally in the meadow I do not have to supplementary irrigate my established trees so I am reluctant to install permanent irrigation. A soaker hose is the answer here.
So what I needed to do to save the crop:
- I removed any weeds from the beds either side of the espaliers.
Set up and started the soaker hose going.
- Trimmed any excess vertical non-fruit bearing growth from the trees- this only shades the fruit and by cutting it back now I hope to promote better spur production that will fruit next year.
- Erected the frame for the netting – this consisted of putting steel pickets either side of the espaliers, every 3 meters and then cutting pieces of fat striped pipe 2m long and sliding them over the post to form an arch.
- Turned off and removed soaker hose from the bed.
- Mulched heavily with wattle mulch- as wattle is a legume this mulch should contain enough nitrogen to counter the nitrogen draw down that will occur with the decomposition of the mulch, therefore I did not fertilise.
- Replaced the soaker hose- holes facing downward to prevent water spray and excess evaporation.
- Placed the netting over the frame work and weighed it down all the way around with pavers.
It has taken all day but I am now assured of getting a great crop of apples.
Happy gardening Kathy