Mandela Day is an annual global celebration that takes place on 18 July to honour the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela. This year people are encouraged to plant trees, especially fruit trees, thereby contributing towards a greener, healthier and more beautiful environment – at the same time making a positive impact in their own homes and communities.
Planting a tree is a lifetime investment. How well this investment grows and produces depends on the type of tree, the place where it is planted, how it is planted and aftercare.
If you ask why fruit bearing trees, we say, why not? Not only are fruit trees beautiful, but they offer a host of other advantages.
- It is extremely satisfying to eat food that you have grown yourself.
- Secondly, they supply healthy and delicious fruit. And even better, you can share excess fruit with your neighbours, family and the less privileged.
- Freshly picked fruit is healthy and packed with nutrients. Fruit sitting on the supermarket shelf rapidly loses nutrients.
- Most trees increase the value of your property because they add ornamental value.
- They provide shade, keeping you and your house cooler in summer.
- Fruit-bearing trees, however, are especially valuable because they generate all that free food!
- Planting trees helps the environment since they absorb dangerous CO2 emissions in the atmosphere and convert it into fresh, clean, oxygen.
- Trees offer safe shelter for birds, squirrels, etc and are a good food source for them.
It is important to plant a tree the correct way. While fruit trees do not look particularly attractive in the winter, this is the best time to plant them. Planting in the winter increases the survival rate of your fruit trees and encourages better root establishment and growth. Pruning to make major changes to the tree’s shape is also best accomplished in winter when the plant is dormant and the leaves have fallen. This will give you a good sense of the shape you are trying to achieve.
Growing a fruit tree is not different from planting other types of trees. However, it is important to follow the general planting guidelines for your tree to thrive and bear an abundance of fruit.
- Most trees, including fruit trees, require 8 hours of direct sunlight a day all year round. Plant or place in a sunny, sheltered spot with well drained neutral to acidic soil.
- The location in which you plant your tree is important. They need space to grow and thrive and different types of trees have different requirements. Walls, paved areas, swimming pools and overhead powerlines must be considered when deciding where you plant your fruit tree.
- Start by preparing the planting holes properly. Dig a square hole measuring 600 x 600mm. Most fruit trees can be planted into containers. Make sure that the container is large enough to avoid transplanting the tree when it outgrows the container.
- To give your tree the best start, add generous amounts of compost, Protek’s Universal Peat Moss to bolster moisture retention, and NutriGreen Gwano Pellets to the soil you dug out.
Protek provides the highest quality sustainably obtained Peat Moss for home garden use. It comes in a universal blend for general use in your garden as well as an acidic blend for acid loving plants. It is 100 % weed free, has high water holding capabilities, reduces leaching and supports strong root growth for healthier plants.
NutriGreen Gwano Pellets is a general 100 % organic fertiliser and is ideal for trees, shrubs, fruit, and flower bearing plants. Organic fertiliser contains the three most important nutrient elements, namely, Nitrogen (N), Phosphate (P) and Potassium (K). It also contains many important micro-elements that plants require for healthy growth such as Iron (Fe), Manganese (Mn), Copper (Cu), Zinc (Zn) and Barium (B) to name but a few.
- Loosen the outer layer of soil with your fingers as well as the tree roots, this helps to loosen the root ball. Doing so will encourage healthy early tree growth.
- Place your tree in the hole and fill it with the soil that was dug out and enriched with the NutriGreen Gwano Pellets and Universal Peat Moss. Stomp the soil properly to compact it while keeping the tree straight.
- Stake the tree to prevent wind damage.
- If training your fruit tree as an espalier or barrier, you need to place the trellis now.
- Water regularly until it’s established in the soil and especially during flower and fruit setting. Remember that trees planted in containers will require more water especially on hot or windy days.
- To ensure healthy plants, be on the lookout for insects like aphids, psylla (especially on citrus), beetles, fruit fly, red spider mite, etc and fungi like black spot, anthracnose, bacterial blight, bacterial spot, bacterial speck, downy mildew, etc. Protek has a range of products to address any insect or disease you encounter on your fruit trees.
- Feed your trees regularly, especially when planted in containers as additional watering causes nutrients to leach.
Protek’s Guanosol is ideal for fruit trees, especially in containers. You can simply pop in as many as 3 pills and this will provide a slow release of essential nutrients for up to 3 months. For very fast results, Guanoflo can be applied directly to the soil, and it is fantastic to use as a foliar feed providing nutrients to your trees to grow and stay strong.
During flowering and fruiting, fertilise your trees with organic based NutriGreen Flower Power, specially developed for fruit and flower bearing plants.
Lastly, enjoy the fruits of your labour!