The daffodils are in bloom always a sign that the weather is warming up. It is not yet officially Spring but there has certainly been a touch of spring warmth in the sun over the past few weeks. Of course it is August and we still have more cold frosty mornings and harsh winds ahead along with a touch of snow across the region on Sunday.
The slight increase in temperature that sees the daffodils blooming also causes the energy to start flowing in deciduous trees. The first sign of this change for us as gardeners is the slight “swelling” or budding that occurs along the branches and tips as the precursor to flowers and leaves. The trigger for this to happen, comes from the dormant buds at the very tip of each branch and twig. They are like sensors and respond to the air temperature and when the conditions are right they release a hormone. This hormone kick starts the tree into life and the roots start to pump. This is often referred to by the term “rising sap” which is the point where the tree draws moisture and sugars stored in the roots, and pumps them under pressure to force out leaves and outer growth. During the period where the sap is rising if you cut a tree it will bleed significantly and in volume. Pruning should not occur during this time as it can significantly impact on the tree’s growth and strength.
It is during this transition period from winter into spring when the sap is rising that sap can be collected from particular trees, for example sap from maples for the making of maple syrup.
This strong flow of sap only lasts for a short period of time, a few days to a few weeks depending on the tree species. As soon as growth starts on the trees and photosynthesis begins, this flow normalises.
This brief transition period is a great time to provide trees with a little bit of gardener love. By spraying fruit trees with micro nutrients and microbes we can give them a boost as they burst into flower. There are a number of commercial products available for this but the most simple and equally effective can be easily made at home or on the farm. Compost teas, worm juice, seaweed brews (if you are near the coast) or a lacto-bacillus inoculate are all excellent ways to provide fruit trees with a spring boost. This spray boost should not replace your annual manuring program for you fruit trees but can be an additional component.
The first fruit trees in our garden to show they are “transitioning” from winter into spring are the nectarines, followed by the nashi pears and the peaches.
Bronwyn Richards has cared for animals and has been growing vegetables successfully all her adult life. She is principle gardener for Wynlen House Farm