The cool and cloudy days of Seattle’s summers can often pose a challenge for healthy fruit-tree growth. Because most fruit trees require ample amounts of daily sun and warmth to develop size and sweetness, the selection of fruit tree is especially important to the Seattle cultivar. Considering this, the WSU Mt. Vernon Research & Extension Center has compiled a list of fruit trees that thrive in the Seattle area, which include certain variations of the apple, pear, plum, cherry and peach trees.
Select a planting location for the fruit tree. Choose a location that provides at least eight hours of full sunlight with very little shade. Ensure that the location is well-drained with nutrient rich soil. Avoid clay and compacted-soil locations.
Prepare the fruit tree for planting. Remove the tree from its burlap bindings and gently remove the excess soil from the root system to allow the roots to spread. Trim away any dead or dying roots using sharp, sterile scissors. Remove the dying roots from the base of the root system.
Plant the fruit tree in the early fall, just as the growing season comes to an end. Dig a hole that is slightly larger than the width of the root system and equivalent to the depth of the root system. Loosen any clumped or compacted soil in the hole to promote a good establishment for the fruit tree. If the soil of the planting area has a high clay content, incorporate organic compost into the planting area to promote improved drainage and aeration. Do not add fertilizer to the hole. Fill the hole with tepid water and allow it to settle in.
Mix the removed soil with equal amounts of organic compost. Position the fruit tree in the center of the hole and fill it with the prepared soil. Press the soil firmly around the tree’s diameter to ensure a secure, upright position. Build up the planting area so that it is slightly elevated from the surrounding surface. Irrigate the tree thoroughly to promote a good establishment.
Protect the fruit tree’s moisture by applying a layer of mulch around the diameter of the tree. Keep the mulch at least 12 inches from the trunk.
Ensure that the fruit tree reaches approximately 1 to 1 1/2 inches of water every 10 to 14 days. Pay attention to the rainfall levels and adjust the watering schedule accordingly. Water the fruit tree deeply and infrequently to promote a strong root system.
Prune the young fruit tree in the early spring and late fall to develop a good framework. Thin the tree’s interior branches to promote light penetration throughout the tree. Remove any dead or dying branches and stems to redirect the tree’s energy toward new growth.
Begin feeding the fruit tree in the spring of its third year. Use a well-balanced, slow-release fertilizer, such as a 20-20-20 or 10-10-10. Remove or rake away the mulch from around the tree before application. Apply the fertilizer evenly around the tree’s diameter and approximately 12 to 18 inches from the trunk of the tree. Water the fertilizer thoroughly into the soil and reapply the mulch to ensure moisture retention.