Feed and mulch fruit trees and bushes to send them into the season primed and ready to give of their best.
Fruit trees and bushes are big, generous plants that need plenty of goodness in the soil to produce their bumper crops each year. You can do your bit to boost nutrient levels by scattering slow-release fertiliser in spring. You’ll find plenty of different formulations on the shelves here at the garden centre in Listowel and everyone has their favourites: choose from pelleted poultry manure, blood, fish and bone, bonemeal, granulated seaweed or a tried-and-tested formula such as Vitax Q4.
Most are simply applied straight onto the ground near the stems of your plants, usually at a rate of one or two fistfuls per square metre, though always check the packet for precise instructions. Apply just after rainfall, when the ground is a little damp but not waterlogged or frozen, and fork the granules lightly into the surface of the soil.
After you’ve fed your fruit bushes they will also benefit from a generous mulch. Mulching with organic matter such as garden compost, soil improver or well-rotted farmyard manure around the base of permanently planted fruit bushes and trees helps cut down on weeding, saving you work later in the year, and also locks in moisture so you don’t have to water as often either. Over the year, the worms pull it down into the soil where it improves the soil’s structure and feeds your plants as it breaks down.
Clear away debris or weeds, then spread a 5cm thick layer of organic matter over the soil beneath the plants. Pull it back a little from woody stems to avoid it heaping up against them and causing them to rot, and your plants are ready for the season, growing big and healthy and covered in sweet fruit by summer.