Fruits, nuts, and berries need tender loving care to thrive and produce fruit in Central Texas. Following these basic guidelines for soil preparation and maintenance can lead to success. Choose a location in full sun where the soil has good surface and internal drainage. Give each plant proper spacing to minimize diseases and maximize production.
Figs, Jujubes, Olives, Pecans, Persimmons, and Pomegranates may be planted without amending the soil. However, most of these trees would perform better in amended soil, as described below. Pecans should only be planted where the soil is deep – at least 3 feet deep. Follow the mulching, watering, and fertilizing guidelines as described below.
For Apples, Apricots, Blackberries, Grapes, Peaches, Pears, Plums, and Raspberries it is essential to amend the soil to a depth of at least 18 inches and a width of at least 3 feet for each plant. If you have deep soil, mix Lady Bug Revitalizer, Farm Style, or All-American Turkey Compost into the native soil. The resulting soil blend should be 30 – 40% compost. If you have shallow soil, mix in Lady Bug Hill Country Garden Soil or Rose Magic Soil with the native soil and create a raised bed. The larger you make the amended area, the better. Along with compost or soil, mix in an organic fertilizer, such as Lady Bug Brand All Purpose 8-2-4, Garden Pep Cottonseed Meal, or Flower Power and a mineral supplement. Do not use Flower Power on Blackberries or Raspberries, as brambles are prone to zinc deficiency in high phosphorus soils.
Chilling Hours measure the number of hours between 32° and 45° F that a fruit tree must receive before it can bloom. Different varieties of apples, apricots, peaches, pears, and plums have different chilling hour requirements. The Austin area averages 600 – 800 chilling hours. Downtown Austin receives fewer chilling hours; the Hill Country receives more. Consult our nursery staff on choosing the proper variety of these fruits for your area.
To plant, amend the soil as described above. Dig the hole big enough to accommodate the entire root system without crowding. For bare root trees, build a small hill in the center so that the tree can sit on top and the roots can spread out along the sides of the hill. Backfill the hole with the amended soil. The soil line should be at the point where the uppermost root grows out of the trunk. The graft should be well above ground level and facing the prevailing wind.
Add Lady Bug Sylvan Formula mulch over the root zone of all fruit and nut trees and berries. Ideally mulch should be three or more inches thick – starting a few inches away from the trunk and extending beyond the dripline.
Water the entire root zone and beyond thoroughly, preferably with Maxicrop Seaweed solution or Lady Bug John’s Recipe immediately after planting. It is important to avoid letting trees dry out completely, especially the first two years. Water deeply during the winter only enough to prevent the soil from drying out completely. Water deeply during the growing season about once every week or two, depending on soil water retention. Pay close attention to water needs while trees are developing fruit and in late summer when the trees set their flower buds for the next spring.
Fertilize with Lady Bug 8-2-4, Garden Pep Cottonseed Meal, or Flower Power over the root zone every spring and again in summer after harvest.
Fruit Tree Spray Schedule
for Apples, Apricots, Peaches, Pears, and Plums
- At leaf drop in the fall: Spray Actinovate or Serenade to help prevent diseases.
- During winter dormancy: Spray Dormant Oil.
- At bud swell in late winter/early spring: Spray Actinovate or Serenade.
- Late winter is the time to control the plum curculio pest, which turns into “the worm” in the fruit. At shuck split, spray an organic insecticide. Shuck split happens right after flower petals drop, the fruit has just barely formed, and the fruit has just expanded enough to split its papery covering (the “shuck”). Spray Bioganic or Spinosad.
- Throughout the growing season spray leaves once or twice a month with Lady Bug John’s Recipe or Maxicrop Seaweed. In addition, spray our Aerobically-brewed Compost Tea regularly for overall health, along with disease prevention and control. For further disease control use Actinovate on leaves and soil.