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Andy Lopez, Contributing Columnist/Invisible Gardener
2:22 pm PST January 2, 2019

Many folks with fruit trees have been calling me, and they all have one question: “Can I eat my fruit?”

The answer is no. I would pick everything and dispose of it, as the fruit will be too toxic to eat. The second batch of fruit should be fine, provided you have cleaned up the soil and amended it with rock dust, compost and azalea/gardenia mix. I would not fertilize now until February. 

Additional questions I am hearing are “What should I do to help my fruit trees?” and “How do I know if it is alive or not?”

To start, you can cut back the dead branches until you come to what’s alive. If you want to see if the whole tree was burned beyond repair, you can scratch the bark off a little bit and see if it is green. Green means it is still alive.

So, basically, I would cut back any of the dead branches, leaving as much as possible of the main tree. 

I would make sure the drip lines are working. 

I would apply a small amount of rock dust that is blended with various microbial life. There are many on the market. I use MycoGro, but you can use whichever you want. I buy from multiple sources to make sure I have a variety of microbial life. The rock dust is a source of minerals, so it is a good idea to get a blend of rock dust sources to get a blend of trace minerals. 

I would also get an organic fruit tree fertilizer. Organic fertilizers are geared toward soil temperature and will start to work as soil heats up.

The compost is essential and must be alive for it to work correctly. The best compost is locally grown. There are several compost companies in the area as well as those who sell earthworm castings. I like SuperChar since it has earthworm castings and compost.

Another thing I would do is to start to foliar spray the fruit trees. Yes, I know that it doesn’t have any leaves now. It is a little bit confusing, but you can actually spray the trunk of the tree as well as soak the soil around it. The fruit tree (or any tree for that matter) will absorb the nutrients through its bark. 

In the spring, you should start to see signs of new growth. I would continue with the foliar spraying once a week for a few months, then twice a month for another four months and then monthly for as long as needed.

The fruit should be fine. There are devices you can use to test for toxins. 

I would use microbes to clean up the soil of any toxins. Do a soil test for toxins to be sure your ground doesn’t have any of the heavy metals. You can use a variety of natural microbial products that clean up toxins. I use Nitron A-35 as well as Agri_Gro. Both are OMRI approved and safe for the soil. They will destroy any toxins they encounter.

The area will be toxic to some extent for many years to come. It is important to monitor your food to be sure it is safe. When things dry out, and the wind starts blowing stuff around, the toxic levels will increase. Fruits and vegetables have a nasty way of absorbing these toxins, which will be absorbed by our bodies when eaten.

So, unless you clean up the soil, your fruit and vegetables will continue to absorb any toxins in the soil and in the air.

I would not do any pruning or any work on your fruit trees or garden until the area has been adequately cleaned up and hauled away. Working around this stuff is very bad for your health and very bad for your pets. 

When your fruit tree starts producing again, it is crucial to wash the fruit before eating it.

You will find that your fruit trees may get attacked but pests and/or diseases. Whether or not a tree gets attacked depends on the health of the fruit tree, which depends on the health of the soil. To make sure your fruit trees recover and produce healthy fruit, make sure your ground is being cared for properly. Applying chemical fertilizers only further damages and stresses out the soil, and all the trees, in turn, will get stressed out, too.

Overwatering is terrible for the soil, so control your watering. Fruit trees, like most trees, do not like to be overwatered. Overwatering stops the trees from absorbing their nutrients. A reduction in nutrient intake will always lead to low Brix levels which always leads to high pest and disease levels.

If you do get pests and diseases, there are many natural ways to deal with them. Some simple pest control sprays contain coffee or garlic. I found that using garlic as a spray not only killed most pests but also gave my fruit a wonderful garlic flavor.

Another spray is made of milk, as milk’s high calcium levels are perfect for disease control. 

Follow the basic rules of organic gardening and your fruit trees and vegetable gardens will recover and provide you with an abundance of healthy foods.

Any questions? Email me at