Planting a homestead orchard is a great way to get delicious fresh fruit right in your backyard. Protecting your homestead orchard during the winter is most important. If you haven’t started your orchard yet, you can find a great guide here.
If you’ve already planted your homestead orchard, you need to start thinking about maintenance. As winter approaches, it’s crucial that you prepare your fruit trees properly so they survive the cold weather and continue producing fruit for years to come.
If the roots freeze during the winter, your trees will die. The cold weather can also cause the trunk to crack and falling branches increase the risk of disease. However, as long as you care for your trees properly, they will be happy and healthy. These are the steps you need to take.
Mulch Your Trees To Insulate The Roots
When you plant your fruit trees, build a mound of mulch around the base. This will insulate the roots from sudden temperature changes so they don’t freeze. Be sure to keep an area open for air circulation and only cover the first few inches around the trunk. It is also important that you avoid touching the bark of the tree with the mulch.
Clean Up Fallen Branches and Fruit
Branches and fruits that fall onto the ground can carry diseases. Remove them as soon as possible and destroy them before the disease spreads into the roots and causes damage. Any small pieces can be removed yourself but if there are a lot of large branches due to storm damage, you will need to call in a Storm Cleanup service to remove them right away. If you leave branches around the base of the tree, it’s unlikely to survive the winter, so check regularly and keep your homestead orchard tidy.
Avoid Pruning In The Fall
During the fall, it is tempting to prune your trees so they look tidy throughout the year and people assume that it will inspire new growth. However, those new shoots will still be very fragile when winter comes and they will be killed off by frost. It’s best to wait until the winter is coming to an end and then prune the trees, so the new shoots can grow through in spring and be healthy.
Protect Your Tree From Winter Sunburn
The leaves of your fruit trees will fall off as it gets colder, but the bark will remain on the tree. The sun’s rays can still burn the bark if they shine directly onto it and this is especially dangerous at lower altitudes where sunlight reflects from all directions.
You should always remove any heavy snow that accumulates around the fruit trees of your homestead orchard because it can also reflect sunbeams and burn the bark. In the late summer, you can paint the trunk of the tree with a 50/50 mix of white latex paint and water. It’s important to protect against sunburn because it can crack the bark and create an entry point for diseases and pests.
Final Thoughts About Your Homestead Orchard
The winter is a tough time for your fruit trees, so make sure you’re protecting your homestead orchard during the winter.