Sunday, March 9, 2008

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Mulch those trees!

Get some wood chips, spread them around the tree (2 inch to 6 inches deep) and keep away from the trunk 6 inches. Next year, do the same thing. Mulching is a technique for covering the root area of Trees with a protective material.

This helps retain water, reducing water loss by up to 30%. Mulch also supresses weeds, which compete with young trees for nutrients and water. Organic Mulches also slowly add organic material to the soil and encourage beneficial soil organisms.

Coarse wood chips make excellent mulch, when applied properly. Most cities offer free mulch, from their tree trimming and maintenance operations. Call, and get a load delivered. This Mulch tends to derive from many varieties of trees, rather than the single source you usually find in purchased bags. Variety is better. Although some Mulches are considered Allelopathic (like Black Walnut Eucalyptus etc. "can kill plants") all of the coarse wood chip mulches, applied properly, will be beneficial to your trees. You want coarse material (chips, not sawdust!) so that air can penetrate, and it can dry out and not support mold or fungi.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Watering your Fruit Trees

Watering once or twice a week is best. Here are the guidelines for watering based on region and tree age.

Basic Summer Watering Chart: (80% of these rates for coastal schools)

▶  1st year trees:   10 gallons per week.  
▶  4’ diameter canopy:   15 gallons per week.
▶  5’ diameter canopy:   25 gallons per week
▶  6’ diameter canopy:   30 gallons per week
▶  7’  diameter canopy:  45 gallons per week
▶ 10’ diameter canopy:  80 gallons per week  

How we got those numbers:
Inland Counties: Requirement in Gallons/week is about equal to canopy area.  Example: A canopy with a 4ft diameter has an area of about 12.5 ft^2. (If you need a review on how this works, please see the math teacher down the hall). Thus this tree wants about 12 gallons/week. Add 20% if you are watering in the day time for evaporation loss.

Coastal Counties: Follow the same formula as inland, but use only 80% of the water. Example: A tree with a 4ft canopy diameter will want 80% of 12.5 gallons or about 10 gallons. Add 20% if you are watering in the day time for evaporation loss.

Spring and Fall:
50%-80% of the summer water amount.
If a fall fruit has already harvested, reduce down to 25-50%.

Check the soil under the mulch several times before leaving for Summer. Adjust water quantity up or down so that between waterings the soil is not wet enough to stain your palm, or dry as dust.

Don't let water stand against the trunk.... not good!

Fine tuning your watering amounts:
You can check the moisture level with a metal probe into the soil (e.g. straightened hanger). It should go down about a foot for your new trees. That means there is enough water at the root level. If it's too dry or too wet just prior to your irrigation, adjust the amount up or down by a gallon.
If the soil is Sandy or Sandy Loam, divide the total amount of water in two, and water twice per week. If the soil is heavy clay, once per week for the entire amount should be fine.