Residents of Maine have many choices for growing fruit in their home orchards. Some of the more common fruit trees there include apple, pear, peach, plum and cherry. Homeowners who have any of these trees growing on their property are indeed fortunate. With proper care and maintenance, they will produce delicious fruit that is ideal for fresh eating or canning.
Care and Maintenance
Remove weeds from an area 2 to 3 feet in diameter around the tree. Use a garden hoe to chop weeds and grass from this area, cutting out their roots as you cut through the soil. Rake the debris up with a garden rake and discard.
Water the fruit trees with a 5-gallon bucket filled with water. Use 2 to 3 gallons of water for seedlings, 5 gallons for small- to medium-sized trees and 6 to 8 gallons for larger trees. Use more water if soil is extremely dry or drought conditions persist.
Mulch the area out to the drip line, the circular line formed by the outer branches. Place a 3- to 4-inch thick layer of grass clippings, leaves, hay, pine straw or tree bark in this area beginning at the base of the tree and working outward.
Protect your trees from rodents by placing a plastic mouse guard around the trunk of the tree. Begin at the bottom and wrap the guard in a diagonal pattern around the tree until you reach the top, then secure with a small tack or nail. Repel deer from your orchard by placing slivers of bath soap in an old sock or piece of cloth and hanging it from a low tree branch.
Inspect your trees for signs of Japanese beetles or gypsy moths. Check apple trees for signs of scab, a disease that begins with water-like spots on the tree's leaves. Contact your local extension office for advice as to the right pesticides to use if signs of disease or pests are discovered.
Cut back new apple and pear trees to a height of 3 feet with a pair of pruning shears shortly after planting. Cut back any branches that are less than 18 inches from the ground at this time.
Prune peach and plum trees to an open center or vase shape by removing branches that are growing toward the center of the tree. Remove any shoots that are weak or distressed. Thin out branches from the center of the tree to allow for good air flow.
Prune all fruit trees in mid to late September so branches will have time to heal before the first frost of the season. Cut away dead branches, those that are growing inward and those that cross other branches. Check for limbs that are oozing or seeping and cut these off as well.