Fallen leaves can be turned into a fertilizer for fruit trees.

Looking for a great fruit tree fertilizer? If it’s autumn, all you have to do is look down at the fallen leaves around local trees. With just a little bit of work, those leaves can be turned into a rich leaf mould. Leaf mould is a potent fertilizer for fruit trees. And best of all? It’s free!

Do you want healthy and productive fruit trees? Then it’s essential to fertilize your fruit trees in the spring or early summer each year. Most often I do this in the form of a fantastic, nutrient rich mulch. Mulch is a product that you can spread around the roots of your fruit tree. There are a number of goals when it comes to spring mulching:

  • To help prevent weeds from growing around the roots of your tree.
  • To help retain moisture around the roots of your trees to prevent them from drying out in between watering
  • To fertilize your fruit trees by slowly breaking down and releasing nutrients into the soil so that your tree will have the energy it needs to grow, flower and fruit in the season to come.

But what is the best mulch to choose? There are a number of options and many of them cost money. On the other hand, leaf mulch is free and if properly decomposed, it will boost tree growth and productivity during the new growing season. Best of all, it’s easy to make!

At this time of year in our region, fallen leaves are plentiful. So we rake them up and put them through a leaf shredder (you can find lots of them online) and then we pile them up and wait for them to decompose over the winter into a rich fruit tree fertilizer. My husband and I put them in one of the bins of our three bin composter but even if you pile them in a corner of your garden it will also work.

We did this last year and by the time our apple trees were blossoming in the spring we had the most wonderful leaf mulch, filled with worms and other beneficial creatures. We spread a two inch thick layer of leaf mulch around the roots of our espaliered fruit trees and they grew in leaps and bounds in the next few weeks. Our trees have never responded quite as quickly to the other types of mulch that we use.

I do not, however, rely on leaf mulch fertilizer every year. Just like I try to eat a varied diet, I also mulch with different types of mulches each year to ensure that my fruit trees received the wide range of nutrients they need to not only grow, but to produce an abundant harvest. I may also use straw, composted manure, or other types of compost depending on my tree’s needs.

How do you mulch your trees? What works best for you? I’d love to hear from you. And if you’re interested in learning more about improving your soil and caring for your fruit trees – including learning correct annual pruning and preventing pests and disease, order or download my award-winning book “Growing Urban Orchards” or sign up for my self-guided online fruit tree care workshops. Happy growing!

Susan Poizner is the author of the award-winning fruit tree care book “Growing Urban Orchards” and the creator of OrchardPeople.com’s award-winning online workshops.