Would putting my compost around my fruittrees, this late in the season, be detrimental?
I was reading a discussion (another forum) where someone indicated they fertilized too much and late in the season and it caused explosive growth that did not hardened off before winter. They indicated this caused the new growth to die back in winter.
I want to continue to apply a lot of compost around my fruit trees but would like some thoughts from this group. Should I hold off until next spring or is compost so slow a fertilizer that it would not cause a problem even if used this late?
Plant a seed and see if it grows. Some seeds do not grow well but others grow beyond your expectations.
I don't think there is ever a bad time for compost. As you said, it releases nutrient much more slowly than bagged fertilizer. It also feeds the little guys living in the soil, and I figure they need to eat all year.
It's about to be July, so most of my fruit trees are setting and growing fruit. I've heard that pruning at this time of year is better than in Feb because the plant puts its energy into producing that fruit rather than growing more water spouts but that most people don't do this because they're too busy doing other things in July and August to spend time pruning.
If that advice about pruning is accurate, I'd suggest that compost would fit the same bill.
That said, it also depends on the quality of the soil and the age of the tree. If they're young trees in poor soil, compost would feed the micro-biome as suggested by Trace. Alternatively you could save the compost and spend the time working on plans for a guild to support the fruit trees. Last spring I planted walking onions, flowers and comfrey around a prune plum tree and the comfrey has already been chopped and dropped once and is looking like I should do so again. I added compost at the time I did the new planting to help keep the "weeds" down while the plants got established. The nitrogen fixer that had been with the tree succumbed to deer pressure over the winter, and I didn't have a different N fixer to try, so that parts still under consideration. In the short term, being able to chop and drop the comfrey will hopefully do the job.
Compost is a low and slow fertalizer, that it will encourage some growth; however, your concerns of new growth not hardening off, depends alot on the climate you live in, and the health of the tree before fertilizing. Mellow climates with slow transitions into winter, provide adequate time for a healthy tree to transition to winter. Climates that can quickly and drastically change, or unusual cold snaps coming early can be the problem. If a tree is nutrient deficient, then late in the season its suddenly given lots of fertalizer, depending on its genetics, it may risk late season growth, rather then let those nutrients leach away.
The type of tree, your climate, unusual weather, the trees unique genetics, the trees health, and many other factors, can play into the tree properly hardening of new growth. Compost at any stage shouldn't be an issue, but for trees prone to the concern, hold off late summer early fall compost applications till after leaf drop. We're in early summer in the norther hemisphere, so compost away!
I have learned from experience that you should compost your fruit trees every year around the same time of year. So my fruit trees get compost in the mid-fall. They get compost in the early-spring. I gave up on applying compost early-summer as it is getting way too hot and the compost will bake and destroy my little armies. Not sure where you live at but if it snows it kina determine your composting times. When I lived in Boulder Co, I would compost before the snow came. I found that it works quite well. I would also then compost in the spring when it got warm enough. I would make my piles before the snow and cover it and allow to sit during the winter time. However, here in Malibu, the city is still working on rules for making compost. They don't like piles of any kind. I have started to make compost specifically to be applied directly to the soil and in turn, start various cover crops to enrich and allow the soil to be alive. I love all the great information this site has and hope to be able to add to it. Also, what matters to me about the compost is how it is made, what goes into it. It is important to provide an environment where living organisms have access to a wide range of trace minerals. They will, in turn, make sure the plants get what they need when they need it.
Love to all
First, as listed above, the nutrients in the compost (N, K, P, and others) are good for the growing tree. For the sake of simplicity, this is "dead stuff" that the living plant needs to grow strong and healthy.
But more importantly, second, the microbial life in the compost can jump-start soil that has a deficient microbial herd working in concert with the tree roots. Again, simplistically, this is the "living stuff" that makes healthy soil—bacteria, fungi and microbial biota.
Both the nutrients and the microbes are welcomed by the tree any time.
"The rule of no realm is mine. But all worthy things that are in peril as the world now stands, these are my care. And for my part, I shall not wholly fail in my task if anything that passes through this night can still grow fairer or bear fruit and flower again in days to come. For I too am a steward. Did you not know?" Gandolf