Finding Drought Resistant Trees
If you live in an area that is slightly parched of water, you know better than anyone that one of the things that decides whether a tree survives or not is your ability to supply it with sufficient water. Unfortunately, many people don't take this in to account when buying a tree. They will just go for the nicest looking tree, and then wish they could give it more water. If you do a little planning before you rush out and buy a tree, you should be able to find trees that can survive on lower amounts of water.
Usually the most adaptable plants are the ones that are indigenous anyways. If you live in a zone that is suffering a water crisis, usually the only plants that survive are the ones that have been there all along. This is because they are used to the conditions and know how to survive. Just take a drive through the undeveloped regions of your city, and look at what trees are green. Find out their names, and buy them. They might not be the most attractive trees, but you rarely have to make any modifications to your soil to get them to grow.
One of the trees that will grow almost anywhere without using much water is the "Scotch Pine". Not only does it grow at a very fast rate of 20 or more inches per year, it is hardy and drought tolerant. It usually grows between 25 and 35 feet, and it extremely easy to get started. Most nurseries sell these trees, especially in areas with lower amounts of water. There are many varieties available. Many fade to a yellowish brown color during the colder months, and this is usually what causes some people to dislike them and others to love them. However, there are varieties available that do not do this.
The Rocky Mountain Juniper is an extremely hardy and easy to grow tree. Its bark also turns a browner color during the winter, and rejuvenates in late spring. They are frequently used as windbreaks because of how tough they are. These trees are also great if you are trying to attract different varieties of birds to your yard. They provide great branches to nest in. Unfortunately the Rocky Mountain Juniper doesn't grow as fast as other hardy plants like it. The rate is less than 10 inches per year.
Another one of the most popular drought resistant trees is the Russian Olive. This tree is impressive and will definitely turn some heads once it is fully grown. It is more decorative than the trees mentioned above, and will reach 20 or 25 feet once it is fully grown. They are able to grow in almost any soil, and attract birds with the berries they produce.
As you can see, there are many options for you if your water is limited. There are many others that I have not mentioned, and depending on your area you may be able to find a preferable variety. Do a Google search for hardy plants that will survive in your area, and you should be presented with a large list. If you can't find that list, just go outside and see what is currently flourishing. That is the best indication of what you should buy.
Dealing With Moths
Having a steady supply of fresh fruit from your backyard is quite a nice thing. Many people strive to attain this dream. However, many people fail to realize how easy it is to obtain a fairly serious infestation of worms in their fruit. I can't think of anything more unpleasant than biting into an apple off of the tree you've slaved over for so long, only to find that you have not been diligent enough with your pesticides.
Even though it seems like a hassle to always be spraying pesticides, it is something that you should never overlook. Spraying pesticides is a fairly quick and easy process, and you shouldn't have to do it very often at all. Believe me; it is worth it to just get out there in the yard every couple of weeks and spray.
Spraying can seem like a time consuming process. After all, you have to go out and buy all the supplies, mix the chemicals, apply them, and clean up everything you used in the process. Sometimes you'll even need a ladder to reach all segments of the trees. The entire process can take as long as four hours if you have several large trees. Doing this every 2 weeks can get very tiresome and irritating. However, you should always persevere. Usually being adamant in your regular spraying will help prevent infestations of such things as moths, but sometimes it's just not enough.
Usually you can recognize of moths have laid eggs on your trees by the ends of the branches. If you notice something that looks like a cluster of moth eggs, you should immediately prune the branch you found it on and destroy it. Check the rest of the tree very thoroughly. If the eggs were to hatch, you would have a huge amount of moth larvae crawling around through your tree and into your fruits. I don't know about you, but the very thought of this makes me wretch.
I once had a friend who was dealing with a very bad moth infestation. He couldn't find a single fruit on his tree that didn't have a worm inside of it. He ended up having to cut down the entire tree (the stump was a wriggling mass of white larvae. I threw up when I saw it. Damn my weak stomach!) and have the stump professionally removed to get rid of all traces. Having to start completely over on a tree you've worked on for so long is an absolute travesty.
I myself live in the same area as that friend I just mentioned, and I have never had a problem with moths. This is because every Saturday during springtime, I make it part of my schedule to go outside and spray down my entire tree. Preventing the infestation of unwanted guests is much better than having to cut down a tree and start completely over just because of a little laziness.
If you have not thought of spraying pesticides in the past, you should head to your local gardening supplies store today. Find out what pests are most prevalent in your area, and buy the appropriate pesticides to prevent them from ever visiting your trees. I urge you not to brush this off, as it will save you lots of trouble in the long run.
Dealing With Bird Problems
If you are lucky enough to have a cherry tree in your yard, I am sure I don't need to tell you how much enjoyment can come from them. Just eating the delicious cherries that spawned from your tree is a rewarding experience in itself. Looking out your back window and seeing a magnificent, glorious cherry tree is also rewarding. Most people are impressed just by the fact that you have a cherry tree, because they are usually thought of by non-gardeners as some sort of exotic plant.
But along with the joys that a cherry tree can bring, there are many annoyances. They seem to attract more unwanted creatures than any other plant in the world. Almost every day it seems like there is a new type of pestilence swarming the tree, trying to get a nibble of its delicious fruits. I can't say I blame them, but if they want to eat delicious fruits then they should grow their own trees.
One of the main and most constant problems that most people deal with is birds eating the fruit off the tree. It can seem almost impossible to get rid of this pest. After all, they can come in from any angle and make a quick getaway with the cherries. Or they can sit undetected in the branches and munch away all day. A bird certainly has its versatility on its side. Those little guys can be a real hassle to catch or repel. However, there are several different ways you can deter the birds from your house.
The most used way of repelling birds is to place a plastic owl within the vicinity of the house. If you find any animal that usually eats birds and purchase a plastic version, usually real birds will be instinctual enough to avoid it. These can include snakes, owls hawks, or scarecrows (OK, maybe they don't eat birds normally. But they sure scare the birds for some reason). Most of the time you can purchase these at your local gardening store. If you want a different version or a more lifelike representation, if you look online then you're sure to find something that will work.
If you get a plastic animal of some sort, usually it will cure the bird problem for a while. However, some birds are just really brave (or really stupid) and will continue to eat from your tree. Almost any reflective surface or noisy object will prevent the birds from coming too close. I personally like to use reflective tape designed for scaring birds. You can purchase this at any gardening store. I usually use this in combination with a large assortment of wind chimes for maximum scaring. Once you have a plastic animal along with reflective items and noisy items, almost all birds will be too terrified to even go close.
While airborne creatures might take a little more than their share of fruit, you should still consider leaving one tree exclusively for them. While they might seem like a pest sometimes, birds can be the one thing that livens up your garden. If you're used to having birds and then all of a sudden you've scared them all away, you'll feel like there is something missing from your yard. Something that, on the inside, you truly loved all along.
How To Safely Spray Pesticide
If you want to protect your fruit tree from pests during the summer, this is almost impossible to accomplish without the use of pesticides or chemicals. This might scare some people into thinking that the actual fruits will contain traces of the chemicals. If you do things correctly, you can get rid of all the pests and not infect the actual tree. If you're going to be spraying chemicals, you most likely will be using either a handheld pump or a hose-end sprayer.
If you're using the pump sprayers, you will be able to more accurately determine the mixing of the chemicals. Unfortunately, you won't be able to spray it very far. Usually it won't reach the tops of trees. This can be achieved with the hose end sprayers, but getting the correct mix of chemicals is quite a challenge. It all depends on your water pressure to get the correct mixture of chemicals, but water pressure is not constant. One day it might be lower, in which case your chemical content would be higher. The types of materials you buy for hose application are generally in an extremely strong form. They need to be severely diluted before they are weak enough to apply.
When you are mixing the chemicals for spraying, you need to follow the directions exactly. You are dealing with dangerous chemicals, so its best to do exactly what the professionals recommend and wear the proper protective gear. When you're dealing with chemicals like this, you should always wear rubber gloves. Use the exact portions indicated on the label. Estimation won't work in this case, and you could end up killing your tree or not killing any bugs. You should usually start by putting in the proper amount of pesticide, and then top it off with all the water.
Now comes the spraying. The goal is to spray the same amount over all the areas. You still don't want to spray so much that enough builds up to drip off of the leaves. Usually you will want to get a ladder so that you can get within spraying distance of all the portions of the tree. Apply the pesticide in even, full sweeps as to hit every piece. Never go over the same part twice, because that is when you start to drip.
If you're dealing with a large and well developed tree, you should stand on a ladder under the base of the trunk. Spray all segments from the inside towards the outside. After you are done spraying the outer canopy, you're ready to get out from under there and work on the rest. Once you are done cleaning, be sure to fully and thoroughly clean off every bit of equipment you used, including your clothes. Don't include the clothes you wore while spraying in the rest of your family's laundry.
While you're spraying for pests, the main thing to keep in mind is to avoid dripping onto the ground. When this happens, the pesticides will be absorbed by the roots of the tree and be transported to the actual fruits on the trees. As long as the pesticides stay on the outside and you wash your fruit thoroughly before you eat it, you will have nothing to worry about as far as being poisoned goes.
Training Branches To Go Where You Want
Many people associate pruning with changing the structure of your tree to fit a different shape or style. However, this is not the case. Altering the structure of the tree is known as "Tree Training". This is a much better way to develop an alternate form for your tree. Pruning should be used to prevent diseases, prevent lopsidedness, and encourage healthier fruit growth.
Pruning is also used to maintain the proper shape for the tree. For example, if you have an abundance of branches on one particular side of the tree, then you will use pruning to get rid of the larger segments which weigh down the tree to one side. Think about it more in terms of maintaining rather than altering. While pruning is useful occasionally, most of the time you can use training as a healthier and more efficient alternative.
Training has not been around for very long. Through tying down branches or propping them up from the ground, one can direct the growth of the tree to take whatever shape they want. This theory is usually used in the early days of the tree to encourage it to develop fully. If you direct the tree and get it started off on the right foot, you'll save yourself a lot of pruning time later.
Usually, training occurs during the summer. Rather than just cut off all the branches that aren't going in the right way, you try to redirect them. The mechanisms you use can be thought of as orthodontic braces for your fruit tree. They pull or push the branches, like teeth, in whatever direction you want them to go. Eventually they naturally grow that way due to your training.
It can be hard to decide how exactly to train your tree. There are many different forms and shapes to choose from. Some are meant to allow a high density of trees in one orchard, and some are meant to provide maximum fruit bearing per tree. Depending on where your tree is and how you want it to function, you will have to look for different types of forms that will perfectly fit your situation.
The theories of training can also be applied even if you are growing a tree in the traditional (natural) form. Sometimes branches will grow too close together and block each other out, so training them to grow away from each other can prevent the need to prune them later. This is highly beneficial even if you are just growing a tree in your backyard, in a non professional environment.
To train a tree, you will need some sort of outside brace to push or pull a branch. Alternately, if you want to push 2 branches closer together or further apart, you can place something in between them or lash them together with rope. Successfully training your branches just takes a little imagination in deciding what to tie things to and what to push things off of. I have found that stakes, fences, or simply an upright two by four leaning away can work wonders.
There is no tree grower that couldn't benefit from using a little training in their tree growing escapades. Whether you have decided to give your trees a completely new form, or just optimize the branch placement for healthier fruit, there is surely some way that training can benefit you.
Staking A Young Tree
When a tree is in the young stages, one of the most vital things you need to provide for it in addition to water and nutrients is support. If you don't hold up the tree somehow, it might end up bending in a certain direction and growing extremely crooked for the rest of its life. So no matter what, you should always have some kind of support.
The most popular method of keeping young trees upright is to put long stakes into the ground on either side, and tie loops around the tree. Each loop should be fairly loose to allow for further expanding of the trunk. Lots of people just have a stake on one side of the tree, but this is not a good practice because it generally doesn't allow for further growth of the tree.
You should only be staking your tree if you think that wind and other forces might be literally moving the ball of roots within the ground. Your staking should prevent all of this movement, because this is the most harmful thing that can happen to a young tree. It causes the roots to be in motion too much and not be able to properly get a hold on the soil so that the tree can develop normally.
Before you stake a tree, you should be completely sure that it needs it. If you constrict the movement and growth of a tree that doesn't need to be tethered down, you could harm it beyond repair. For example, the staking mechanism you use could cause abrasion or "rashes" on the trunk. This will happen anyways, but why have it happen needlessly? Also, staking gives your yard an unnatural look and can present a hazard for people walking or running across the yard.
The staking process is actually rather simple. Just take 3 stakes and tie each one separately near the base of the trunk. If you use some sort of tether to prevent rope burn on your tree, that would be an even better solution. These can be purchased at any gardening shop, and are designed to be friendly to the bark of the tree. It is much better to stick with these instead of bare rope, to minimize the amount of friction the tree endures.
When you think your tree has been staked long enough to stand on its own, you should remove the stakes from the ground as soon as humanly possible. Every moment the tree is constricted it is losing some of its vitality. As soon as it seems like the wind is dying down around your area, look on the weather reports and see how much wind is forecasted. If the skies will be pretty clear for a while, you should at least temporarily take off the stakes.
To wrap it all up, you should never deny your tree a good staking. It is a completely necessary thing to do in certain situations. It is very crucial to understand when those occasions are, though. Staking a tree that doesn't need it can be as damaging as not staking a tree that does need it. It might be beneficial for you to consult an expert, and get their opinion as to whether your tree should be staked, and for how long.
Preventing Diseases In Fruit Trees
If you maintain any pitted fruit trees such as plums, peaches, or cherries, I'm sure you know that those types of trees are much more susceptible to diseases than any other type. While the fruits are delicious, it can be rather hard to live with all of the maladies that can plague the life of everyone who has ever grown one of those types of fruit trees.
The main disease that you will hear about the most is known as "Brown Rot". This is a fungus that attaches to many of the leftover fruits after the picking season is over. Not only does it look disgusting on the leftover fruits, but it also can come back on the newer fruits, rendering them inedible (unless you enjoy eating fungus). To prevent this malady, you should prune your trees often to encourage good air circulation. Buildups of moisture are the main cause of the brown rot. Also when you are done picking for the season, you should get rid of all of the leftover fruits in the tree or on the ground.
A cytospora canker is a disgusting dark, soft area on tree branches. Gum protrudes through the bark, along with a large callus. The pathogen which causes these cankers usually enters the tree through older wounds. If you prune all of the sprouts that occur in late summer, cankers will have a harder time making themselves known within your tree. When you prune, always allow the wounds to heal naturally rather than use the wound dressings that you can buy at gardening stores. I've found that these usually do very little to help any situation, and only serve to make the tree look unnatural.
Those planting plum trees might deal with something called Black Knot. The symptoms of black not are rough tumors or growths that can be seen on the tree's branches. If you see any of these, you should immediately chop off the branch it has attached to. If you use branches for mulch usually, don't for this one. This disease can easily re-enter the tree if it is within a certain distance.
Almost everyone who has ever maintained a cherry tree has dealt with the "Cherry Leaf Spot". It usually shows itself when there are old dead leaves accumulated on the ground. Preventing this disease is fairly easy. All you have to do is be fairly diligent in raking up all of the leaves that fall from your tree. If you have already seen signs of the disease, you should destroy all of your raked leaves. If not, then you can use them as mulch.
When your fruits ripen and become ready for picking, you should always be completely finished with picking within 2 weeks. It is best to daily go outside and pick all of the new ripe fruits, along with any that have fallen off of the tree or are starting to rot on the tree. By doing this, you will prevent bees and wasps from becoming too dependent on your tree for nourishment.
Growers of fruit trees are constantly faced with diseases and pests to worry about. However, if you take the proper precautions then you can avoid most of them. You should also look for any diseases that have been affecting your local area, and try to take steps to prevent those as well.
Caring Properly For Your Fruit Tree
If you have just recently planted a new fruit tree, I think it is safe to assume you are not yet an expert on the subject. More fruit trees die in their beginning years due to poor care habits than any disease or pestilence. Therefore it is vital that you understand how to care for trees in a way that will ensure their immediate success as well as future good health.
During the first stages of the tree's life, the roots, trunk, and branches have not yet fully developed to a self supporting strength. Therefore if your tree is growing fruits, occasionally the combined weight is enough to snap off an entire branch. If this is the case, you should provide external support for your branches - prop them up with boards, or tie them to something at a higher altitude. As long as you can provide your tree the support it needs in these early years, it should grow to be independent in no time at all.
Proper nutrition is not only necessary for the production of healthy fruits, but is also necessary for the tree to survive longer than one season. The exact specifications vary with the area, climate, and type of tree, but I've found that there is no better source than a nursery employee. Maybe they're just eager to sell you the right type of fertilizer, but in my experience they are almost never wrong. Just inform them about the conditions your tree is living in and how healthy it is looking, and they should be able to help you find something to improve the state of your tree.
Lots of people think that the only way to ensure a tree's healthiness is to provide it insane amounts of water. This is not the case at all. As a matter of fact, giving too much water to a tree can be more harmful than making it go thirsty. At the best it will have a negative effect on the taste of the fruit. But at worst, your entire tree could die and prevent you from ever growing fruit in the future. So do not ever try to solve your problems by giving it lots of water! Solve your tree's health problems at the root, so to speak. Go to where the problem originates from, and fix that.
If it is too late and you're already starting to see unhealthy branches that look either diseased or damaged, you should always remove them. If the tree is wasting nutrients by sending them out to the branch that cannot be saved, it is practically throwing away all the nutrients that it could use on the other, healthier branches. As soon as you start to see a branch that is deteriorating or becoming unhealthy, chop it off right away. At the very least, trim down the unhealthy part but leave all the segments that still look like they could continue growing.
Once your tree has started to enter the picking stage, never leave any of the fruit on the ground that is bound to fall. Also, be careful to get every piece off of the tree. Even if it is an ugly looking fruit that you don't want to keep, you should still pick it and throw it away. Once these fruits begin to rot, they provide a perfect home for unwanted insects or diseases that can transfer to the tree itself. So always remember to rake up these fallen fruits, and prevent yourself a lot of future grief.
Getting a fruit tree and caring for it throughout its life can be a daunting task. It may even seem impossible sometimes to keep track of all the factors that make a tree healthy. But if you just pay attention to the nutrients that your tree needs, you should be on a good path. In addition to nutrients, figure out the precise amount of watering that you should be doing to keep your tree's thirst quenched without drowning it. Just do all these things, and you will have a great tree that produces delicious fruits.
Removing Old Trees
Sometimes a tree gets to the point where it is necessary to say goodbye to it. It can be a painful choice to make, but sometimes the tree gets too close to the house, gets too diseased, gets an incurable infestation of some pest, or grows too tall and gets close to a power line. If any of these things occur, its best to do the right thing and get rid of the tree. Although you might have spent hours and hours getting the tree to where it is today, it is almost dishonorable to the tree to allow it to suffer in bad conditions.
Once you have made the choice to remove the tree, you need to plan its removal. I can't begin to count how many windows I've seen knocked out or cars I've seen crushed because of poor planning in the tree removal process. Decide what direction you want it to fall, and accurately measure to make sure it will fall completely clear of anything else that it could possibly cause damage to.
Once you have the falling direction planned out, you should climb up the tree and tie two long ropes near the top. Anchor them on the opposite side of the one that you want it to fall towards. This will allow you to adjust the direction the tree is being lowered in, just in case it starts leaning towards anything it could destroy.
Now that you've taken all the necessary precautions, you are ready to begin chopping. If you plan on using a manually operated saw or axe, please step back and consider how insane that is. Chopping down a tree by hand will take you forever, and will not even begin to be as accurate as using a chainsaw. If you don't have a chainsaw, you shouldn't even consider doing it without one. Ask around with your neighbors and see if anyone has one that you could borrow. If that doesn't work, rent or buy one from your local home improvement store.
Before you start chopping away at the tree, you should wear proper eye and face protection in case any wood chips fly towards your eyes. I had a friend who blinded his right eye while cutting down a tree, so I hope all of my readers do not make the same mistake as he did. Whenever you operate a power tool, always be sure to wear proper protection for any exposed parts of your body.
When making the cut, you do not want to just cut a straight line into the tree. It is best to cut a sideways "V" into the tree. This is because if you cut the straight line, the tree will end up rolling to one side or the other. If you cut in a "V", the tree will be able to fall in the exact direction that you want it to fall. Occasionally it might be a few feet off due to human error during the cutting process, but if you have some strong friends pull on the ropes you tied, you can line it back up with the path you wanted it to take. The entire process shouldn't take more than an hour.
Removal of the stump can be slightly more difficult. You have several choices; you can rent out a stump chipper that will completely destroy the visible section of the stump. Or you can spend countless hours digging it out. Digging out the stump is much more thorough, but takes forever. If you have kids this shouldn't be a problem. Kids often find the thought of digging fun, and are excited to go outside and dig all day long with their friends. This was the method I used, and I had the entire stump out within a week. Keep in mind that my stump was about 1 foot in diameter, and digging probably won't work for stumps much larger than that.
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