Marilyn Waisanen’s Fruit Tree Growing Tips

Harvesting Homemade Pies

Marilyn Waisanen is cajoling her apple trees to bend and grow over the arbor in her backyard. Much of the large garden, including the 

photography by Dave Shafer

apple and peach trees, was already established when she and her husband acquired the historic Swiss Avenue home three years ago, yet she stays very busy finessing the old and adding some new. Noting that there is just so much pruning and training that can be done in a season (without stressing the trees), she remains determined to train the tree to grow flat over the frame. In the meantime, she is enjoying the plentiful produce. “It is so rewarding to pick your own fruit,” says Waisanen, a Master Gardener certified in two states. “Everyone loves the pies I make, and I am not that good of a baker. It’s the fresh apples and peaches that make them so great.” Nine apple and three peach trees grow amidst other fruits, vegetables, and an extensive array of flowers, including bountiful azaleas and a new rose garden. Waisanen spends at least two hours a day weeding and tweaking, using primarily organic means to tend to her garden. “I have always loved gardening but had little time…then we built a new house with about an acre of landscape, and I wanted to do it myself, so I enrolled in the Master Gardener program,” she says. The rest is history.

Waisanen’s Fruit Tree Growing Tips

• Choose a site that gets at least six hours of sunlight, has good drainage, and has enough space so that the trees will have good air circulation when they mature.
• Get a soil test before planting and make recommended adjustments. Typically, our soil is too dense. Blend expanded shale and compost with native soil.
• Always trim and prune in February and March. Summer pruning increases the chances of bug infestation and disease.
• Don’t let young trees overproduce fruit, or they will become stressed and underproduce in the future. The first year, don’t allow more than three pieces of fruit to a branch, spaced about 6 inches apart. The second year, the tree should handle 10 to 15 pieces per branch. After that, unless the branches become weighted down, let them produce naturally.
• The best way to avoid disease and pests is to plant a disease-resistant tree and encourage beneficial insects by using pesticides and fungicides sparingly.
 
For more information, check http://plantanswers.tamu.edu and choose the tab on fruit and nut resources.

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