How to thin root crops and feed fruit trees

Thinning parsnips and beetroot
  • We planted parsnips, beetroot, onions and carrots about six weeks ago and now they’re more than ready for thinning. Probably we should have thinned around the 4-week mark because they are pretty big. The carrots didn’t come up at all. That’s the thing with carrots – if the seed is not absolutely fresh, they simply won’t germinate.
  • Thin parsnips and beetroot to about 5 cms apart (that means just gently pull excess plants out and dispose of them in your compost). If you have a very good strike, it might be a good idea to go over the row twice – firstly to work out the spacing, and then to choose the very strongest plant.
  • Once you have the row or patch thinned, hill your soil up around the plants. This compensates for the root disturbance from thinning. And all root vegetables like being hilled up during the growing period.
  • We’re not going to thin the purple onions as we just want baby onions, so they’ll take care of themselves.
Feeding fruit trees
  • Feed evergreen fruit trees, like citrus and feijoas, in spring and autumn, but deciduous fruit trees only once a year in spring. Evergreen trees need to maintain leaves all year round so need much more feeding than deciduous ones.
  • Fruit trees need a combination of general fertiliser and a nitrogen one. We like Environmental Fertilisers’ ‘Natures Organic Fertiliser’ for the general fertiliser because it has a balanced NPK ratio – N-2, P-5, K-3. N is nitrogen and is good for leaf growth, P is phosphorus which assists root growth, and the K is potassium which is essential for fruit production. Fertilisers like blood and bone don’t have a potassium component so don’t work for fruiting trees. The other fertiliser we recommend is sheep pellets which are not only nitrogen-based, but also slow-release and help retain moisture in the soil.
  • Apply fertiliser around the dripline (canopy edge) of the tree. This is where the feeder roots are that take in all the nutrients. Be generous. If your soil is dry, water the fertiliser in.


Camera: Jarod Murray
Editor: Thomas Asche
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