John's Garden Newsletters

John Bodycoat works for Conservation & Land management as a lecturer in the advanced diploma in agriculture and horticulture courses. He writes a Newsletter most months which is printed in Mandurah area newspapers. He has agreed to share the articles on our website.

August in the Suburban Orchard

The days are just starting to get a wee bit longer as we head to the end of July. But we still need rain, mobs of it if we can round up all the rain clouds. By now most of your nectarines will be flowering and some of your peaches will be starting to flower as well. I already have small nectarines on my trees, which is unusually early.

Things to do in the Orchard

Grape vines should be pruned in early August. When pruning a grape vine, take off about 90% of last year’s growth. Then make what is called a three-bud cutting or count three buds along the stem. If you want to strike these cuttings, they can be planted in a hole with good fine sand with the tip of the cutting upwards and plant to a depth of two buds. Use a good raw honey such as Jarrah honey or striking powder.

I like to use the old German method of placing the cuttings upside down in a large bucket of sand and the cuttings will grow from the bottom of the cane upwards. Leave fully covered with 100mm sand on top in the bucket for about 40 days and carefully remove from the sand without breaking off the new shoots. At our September meeting I can bring my plants along and demonstrate this process to you.

Pruning. I am always very aware when pruning stone fruit, as sometimes we can get too trigger happy and take far too much out of our trees. If you have purchased new bare root trees this winter, you will need to prune them. I like to recommend pruning your new tree prior to planting it out into your suburban orchard. Remember, a bare root tree has been grown in a paddock and then dug out by the wholesale nursery and sent out to other nurseries or by direct sales. This digging out process leaves about half of the root system in the ground, but the new tree has its entire top. You should prune this by 30%-50%. You can then prune the new bare root tree into a vase shape.

Established trees need to be looked at now in winter while the tree is dormant. Again, it is best to vase-shape your tree, which will bring the sun into your tree to help increase the natural sugars in the new fruit for a better tasting fruit. To make a vase shape in your established tree, remove most limbs that are growing towards the centre of the tree. Prune these limbs right back to the main branch. This leaves a hollowed out area. Also remove any dead limbs on your tree and trim the top of the tree to the height you require. Have fun.

I have been asked a few times about placing two stone fruit trees or apples and pears into the one hole in your garden. This is getting quite popular with some people who do not have mobs of space in their back yards. Some nurseries call this 'Duo' and 'Trio' plantings, where they advise growers to place two or three trees into one hole. If you are growing pears or nectarines, it is recommended to plant two different types of pears or three types of nectarines in your hole, placed about 150mm apart and planted on a slight outward angle. Choose varieties known to be good pollinators for each other: more fruit will be produced with good cross pollination.

Of course if you have dwarf varieties of stone fruit, you will not need to prune very much growth from your trees. Some home growers do not prune at all. It is best to prune dwarf trees slightly to motivate fruit production and fresh growth in the spring.

Pests and diseases in your orchard.

It is always best to keep your fruit trees healthy and this can be done with little effort.

  1. Pick up fallen leaf matter and place in your compost bin. If you have had diseases on your tree do not compost it but throw this in your garbage bin. Organic compost gives out a steady release of nutrients which will then give you healthy soil. The healthy soil will encourage worms into your garden.
  2. Remove all dead wood. I like to burn mine, but I live on acreage so it is easier to burn than for those living in the burbs.
  3. You must remove all fallen fruit from your suburban orchard to prevent pests such as Med Fly and other insects. Also, it looks untidy to have fruit laying around and can smell if you have close neighbours.
  4. Always seek advice from other members or from your local nursery about sprays, fertilisers and organic controls that they have in their garden that can help you in your garden.

It is too late now to spray nectarines and peaches for leaf curl, but sometime apricots can get this disease, so if possible, put a copper spray onto your apricots, before bud burst is recommended.

What varieties to grow in your garden.
When eating fruit it is always best to taste test every one you can. Doing this and asking questions like "what variety is this?" will help you decide what to purchase and grow.

But here goes…
My favourite stone fruits that I have growing in my mobile orchard, soon to be settled in their new orchard when I have finished planting out at my new property:

Other Fruits.

If other members have an article to go into our Monthly News letter, be free to add to my articles. You can reach me on 0411984271 or email.

Many thanks to all the members who attended our Christmas in July last weekend, it was a fun day. A great morning was had by all.

See you at the September meeting.

Next month.
We will look at planting out passion fruit and avocados into our garden.
Guavas and what varieties to grow.
What are tamarillos or tree tomatoes?
Frost in the orchard and controls.

John Bodycoat

Spacer. Spacer.