Early spring flowers will gladden your heart this month. The tiny flowers of cyclamen will be nodding their heads, whilst narcissus and hyacinths will be perfuming the air with their pretty flowers.Start to prune your fruit and nut trees. There are likely to be fruits still on the branches, but you can always come back to deal with those once you have picked the fruit. It is very important to use sharp and very clean secateurs or loppers for the job, or you may transfer disease from tree to tree if you don’t. Look for any dead or diseased branches and those that cross in the centre of the tree. If the centre is crowded, it creates an environment where diseases, like botrytis, can develop. You will see that in professional orchards, the trees are all kept to a manageable height for cropping the fruits. This means that there is less risk to life and limb to do so. Keep the trunks clear of growths (finger and thumb is useful here) and ensure that the bottom branches are not so low that you can’t get in there to feed and weed.
This month you should be giving your trees their first feed of the year. Use 20.10.10 fertiliser, 900 g (3 mugfuls) for large trees and 300 g (1mugful) for smaller trees. Spread this around the base of the trees between the trunk and the edge of the tree canopy. where the feeding roots are. Pomegranates generally don’t need feeding after the first couple of years.
Vines also put on enormous growth during the year and the supports have to be very strong to take the weight. Most people grow them over a framework of scaffolding poles firmly dug or cemented into the ground. Make pruning a priority job before the sap starts to rise or the vine might bleed if you cut into it too late. Like the other fruit trees, you should cut out any dead or diseased branches. Cut back the fruiting stems to one or two buds and only keep the strongest shoots. Later on, take off any non-flowering trusses and cut those stems back to five or six leaves. You can make new vines by planting the strongest prunings straight into the soil, and when they have calloused, they will make new roots. This can take quite a while though and if you are in a hurry to have fruits, then you should buy rooted plants from a garden centre. The best green seedless grape is Thompson and for reds, many people like the very large ‘Veriko’ grape but it has a tough skin and many pips.