Despite what many people say, the standard in Arboriculture is never prune more then 25%. Many orchardists were taught different, but as imperical testing proves otherwise, many orchardists are slowly adapting. Those experienced Arborist quickly learn less is better in prunings, as it doesn't shock the trees chemistry. Shocking the trees chemistry can increase water sprouts, and the need for corrective maintenance in structure many years down the road. If you can get by with 10% prunnings, until you restore your trees, maybe over a 3 year period. I would recomend that, to decrease the need for maintenance after restoration. The less you need to prune after restoration in maintenence, the healthier and more productive the tree will be in bearing fruit. Every family and species of tree is different, and can respond very different to prunings: some better then others.
It looks like you have sun scald on some of your truncks or scaffolding branches, though its hard to see in the pictures the extent of this, or see if its related to what may be a bacterial infection causing the ooze. You will need to properly edge those open wounds on the trunks and scaffolding, if they are not actively showing any growth to compartmentalize. The ooze may be a bacterial canker that's common in many stone fruits. Boosting the health of the tree, and it's immunity will help drastically. Get your soil healthy, proper water, and the trees will suprise you. I would recomend a well balenced properly made, multi imput aerated compost tea, foiler feed and root drenched, to give immediate help, while you establish that BTE mulching system. If you want I'll share my compost tea recipe, which in unhealthy plants can do amazing things to help restore health.
For the coddling moth, the larve I suspect is whats leaving its frass on your apples, or those orangish blobs. I'm not sure if BT has an effect on coddling moth larve, but if it does, treating now will be fine to break the reproduction cycle, which those larve from now, will likely be attacking your trees next year. The BT bacteria will persist like a contaminated bio hazard zone for a given length of time, to those pest which are susceptible to it. There are other strains of paracitizing bacteria used in agriculture that may work, if BT doesn't host on coddling moth larve. The treatments won't save this years fruit, but will infect the larve from this year while they try to reach pupation. Eliminating them will drastically help reduce next years moth population, as sometimes many reproductive cycles of pests happen in a given season. If bacteria doesn't work on them, there are things that will. Though the coddling moth most likely pupates like other moths, maybe rolled up in a leaf, in dense foliage. When you get your soil and irrigation fugured out, it will be worth the effort to introduce a variety of paracitizing nematodes to your soil. They will stop the pupation of larve, that after exiting the fruit, pupate in the ground, like the apple magot, which in most areas is a problem too. The paracitizing nematodes are specifically selected, and harmless to anything but their spacific host range. So they only host most ground pests, including destructive root nematodes. You may also look into hormone traps for the mature coddling moths, and a bug zapper on at night, during the beginning of the adult coddling moth season, where the first moths of the season are flying about. If it gets to the worst case scenario, you can see if suround clay is an option you want to consider, especially if you run into other problems, like with cuculio weaves on your stone fruits; however, that weavel is a whole other subject....lol.
If the Church isn't doing their duty, taking care of the closest needy, or the sheep of that flock, before helping others abroad; then what you give to those needy close by, and what you give as special gifts, counts as service to the Most High: of course keeping in mind, not to do these things to receive praise from other people, but rather to Glorify the goodness of the Most High.
This lack of wisdom in stewardship, is a big problem in todays churches, as the blind often leads the blind. In many cases wisdom in stewardship is completely lost, and those who should be good stewards of their flocks, have in some ways, become like the hording cat lady: who without taking proper care of the cats she has; then goes out to gather more cats, where in neglect, they all together perish faster. You must first take care of what you have, before expending resources to gather more. The great commission wasn't just about spreading the word of redemption, it was also about spreading the wisdom of all scripture, teaching about taking care of each other in love, and being good stewards of the flock. People forget the church isn't a building, it's the people of the congregation.
There is a reason in scriptures, those who went out abroad in the great commission, or missionary work, were commanded to take nothing with them: as that would show little faith in who they serve, while also taking away from the local flock. Also in scriptures, those who when out on the great commission, where mature enough in there faith, to teach wisdom and faith: by knowing the Most High who they serve, can bring water from the rock, mana from the Heavens, coins from a fishes mouth, oil and flour from empty jars, also multiplying fishes and loves. We again need this kind of faith, the faith of a mustered seed. Everyone in these times puts their faith and understanding in man, not understanding what it means to put faith in the Most High. Ironically we're on a permaculture site, and for those who have faith know, permaculture teaches the Most High knows better then man, as we learn to go back to the systems in nature He created, many for agriculture even written in scriptures, for those who have knowledge in the word. Thats why people are also eating Ezekiel bread again, because it's very healthy.
It was always meant to take proper care of the flocks as first priority, an unspoken common sence, while scriptures gives many clear examples of this. A good shepherd has strong healthy flocks. A good shepherd leaves his flock on good pasture, whith adequate shelter, water and protection from preditors: before he leaves the 99 sheep, to find the one sheep thats lost. Sadly this wisdom has been lost, and good stewardship is no longer understood amongst the leadership in these times. It's become more about gathering sheep to sheer their wool, to make more money, to gather more sheep, to also sheer their wool, excetra. All the while, those sheep are left scattered and neglected, perishing in preditor infested over grazed pasture, only gatherd for the shearing.
Now remember regardless what men teach, tithe as it was written, is 10% of your best first fruits, in due season, as outlined in scriptures: anything else is considered a special gift, in service to the Most High. Your described intentions could also be considered loving your neighbor, unless your going beyond your neighbors, and doing what the church stewardship has neglected, in taking care of the body. You can direct your special gifts to the purpose of your choosing, and if the leadership isn't being good stewards as it was written: your service in undertaking that responsibility of stewardship, will also be as a special gift in service to the Glory of the Most High.
So much wisdom has been lost, because most people don't know whats in their Bible; however, if you write it all on your heart, searching out that wisdom like your greatest treasure: knowing the Messiah is also the Word which always was spoken; then wisdom starts to reveal itself, when people rely not on their own understanding, and look to understanding as it was written, even in the hard sayings which perplex mankinds own understanding.
If some of that seems discouraging, let me share the good news: everything will be restored, the path will again be made straight, every vally lifted up, and it was all written.
There could be more to it, regarding the compunds introduced in the subcutaneous tissues by the nettle, but most likely it's the endorphins produced by the body, in reaction to the compunds effects on the body. Pain is relative to perception, so it's also relative to ones endocrine chemistry, which can alter pain perception. Different endorphins released or activated, from the endocrine system, can alter ones perception of pain. The questions are: is it the compounds in the nettle themselves, causing reduction in pain or inflammation, or is it inducing a response from the bodies endocrine system, to release anti-flamitory: and or pain relieving compounds? The imperical answer, I personally can't speak on.
I agree with Bryant Redhawk about Domestic Cats being a great solution and a fierce preditor: if you get one that has good prey drive. Every cat is a little different, so adopting an older cat with already proven prey drive, might be a more accessible solution to your rodent situation. Every cat is different, but from my observations, the dark brindle color are more successful hunters. That color pattern may offer better camouflage, at least in low light loodland areas. I've also heard certian breeds are more into hunting, like the Manx breed, though I can't state that from my own observations. Adopting a feral cat, that has strong prey drive could be a good solution. It gives a cat a home, and encourages the rodents to seek, less hostile pasture. The cat doesn't even have to be successful at catching them, if the cat has the drive to keep trying. That constant pressure alone will eventually encourage the rodents to move on.
Well so far everyone thinks its an Ash. It seems a bit big to have not survived as a seedling from last spring, maybe going into early leaf drop as a fairly small seedling for that drought? Regardless, Ash do grow quickly, maybe you just have great permaculture nutrients....lol! Anyway, I would plan on it growing up to over 40ft tall, and being as wide when mature. So hopefully that might help you plan out eventual spacing. I would also plan on it growing up to 15-20 ft fairly quickly, say within 10 years under average to favorable conditions.
The smaller potatoes you described will work fine for seed potatoes, if they all come from the more productive plants. The potato itself, typically grow underground like a dormant terminal bud, with the furthest most growing point from attachment, having a dense cluster eyes organized like a terminal growing tip. So those smaller potatoes will grow well, with plenty of branching, also having plenty of energy to get started, being 1/4 of full size. Just plant the cluster of eyes up, and it will be better centered for seasonal growth. Technically seed potatoes are all the clone equivalent, of the original parent plant; however, sometimes genetic variations randomly occur over the years, so taking seed potatoes from the more productive plants insures your not reseeding from plants that may be infected with disease, while also harnessing any positive changes that may occur on a genetic level, for adaption your region. If when you harvest each potato plant, you can evaluate its overall production, also comparing environmental conditions which may effect optimal production, then weeding out collecting seed potatoes from plants the did poorly, for no explainable reason.
Some of the best pollinator friendly plants, are actually edible plants. Grow various herbs or leafy greens in a landscape design, and let those herbs or greens go to seed. Have your perennials organized in permanent landscape, while your annuals fill in the gaps. Mints, Basil, Oragino, Dill, Coriander, Bok Choy, Lettuce, Carrots, Chives, Elephant Garlic, and even Radishes, all make great pollinator habitat in flower. So many edible or useful floweres exist, some cool growing, some warm: Nasturtiums are eddible, Chamomile makes great flower tea, Pansys are edible, and like to flower in the cool season. So your cool growers often won't flower in the cool, but give you lots of food; then flower in the warm. Many of the varieties mentioned are prolific seeders, so collecting the seed may help keep some of the dominant ones, from taking over the entire patch, then just seed them where you want them. Other options to reduce unwanted spread, are harvest some of the young Dill seed, for usage in food.
My best suggestion, reintroduce preditors, like Pine Martins, Weasels, Rat Snakes or what ever is the most effective: and a native preditor in your area, that won't be to pesky. Also encourage those native preditors in your area, to help control the rodent population, by improving preditor habitat, of preditors least likely to cause you issues. If you keep chickens, you'll need to make sure they are protected from the preditors your encouraging. Sometimes a Redtail Hawk perch, or other habitats to attract raptors and natural preditors, will keep rodents in balance, and not as emboldened to terrorize your garden. Since permaculture is working with nature to maintain balance, and find solutions. While also encouraging the benefits that healthy balence provides, its always best to encourage nature to find balance which takes care of itself. If this isn't possible, you may find temporary relief from decoys, like decoy owls or snakes, though in some cases, the unwanted rodents quickly figure the decoys out. Unfortunately, sometimes without those native preditors to keep healthy balance, trapping becomes natures friend, to prevent boom and bust cycles. Which through desecration of their available food sources, can cause starvation, disease and and untold suffering, that wouldn't occure with proper preditor balence: typically imbalance caused by pushing out preditors from human development. So if trapping becomes the case to prevent destruction of your property, maybe consider using the refuse for fertalizer, that way your at least turning the problem into a sustainable solution. Dig a hole where you plan on adding a tree, bury a measure of the accumulation of rodents there, and next season, it will be pre-fertalized and ready to plant your tree or plant.
Those aren't necessarily feel good solutions, unless you feel good about restoring balence in nature, and not wasting natural resources.
I don't know exactly what green mint oil is, maybe oil from fresh mint leaves? Regardless, I do know peppermint oil from distillation extraction, deters rodents and many types of insects. So that might also keep those pesky mice and other bugs from nibbling on your potatoes during storage. Although I'm not sure how well peppermint-potatoes will tast for dinner, so you could always use the peppermint oil to treat the perimeter and floors, of your root celler, to deter those pests from coming in and nibbling.
From my understanding, Goat manure is like rabbit manure, in that it doesn't need composting, and won't burn like other fresh manures. I would treat it like rabbit manure in usage, and think you should be fine top dressing with it, like a mulch in reasonable application.
The spruce needles are the least of your concerns, if you have raccoon feces able to get into your water supply. Raccoon round worm is highly prevalent in the Raccoon population, and the eggs are extremely tough, staying viable in the ground for up to ten years. That is a major concern, that can cause serious injury like blindness or worse from infection.
A simple screen over gutters could eliminate the needles, and a first flush system deal with many other issues; however, sand filtration wont eliminate raccoon round worm eggs, which is a grave concern.
If I understand correctly, the eggs are so well protected, they aren't even effected with chlorine treatments used to sterilize infected ground, as the egg wall protects the egg from sterilization by the chlorine actions.
I would strongly recomend doing whats necessary to eliminate any source of raccoon feces, and thoroughly cleaning anything that may have been exposed to raccoon feces, before collecting as a water for potable usage, or even introducing that potential into your potable water system.
One major factor is keeping the bedding dry. If the bedding stays dry, it alows the bedding to soak up and quickly dissipate the moisture in the waist products, keeping itself aerobic, while transitioning the waist to aerobic as well. Once the bedding gets wet, it reduces the air in the material itself from water logging, depending on how saturated, and compacts further reducing air supply. Once these things happen, the bedding becomes ineffective at quickly pulling the moisture out of the anaerobic waist products, and evaporating that liquid to maintain air supply within itself, while also through the dessication of the waist products, allowing the introduction of air to cause a conversion of it from anaerobic to aerobic within the waist.
You'll need to figure out how to stop that leak onto your bedding, to address your concern, and most likely need to put in new bedding.
You may also consider using free arborist woodchips, as a deep bedding litter. They will need to stay dry too, but may provide better air movement due to the shapes allowing larger air pokets and better overall airation under less then ideal conditions.
Justin Rhodes uses the deep litter woodchip method, and likes it. If you want to learn more about it, check out some of his YouTube videos on the subject.
I hope that helps gives you some ideas. Maybe you can also get a neighbor or friend, to help change the bedding, if you're not able to at this point.
Things that can effect fruit size are: the type of cherry tree it is, as in varietie or unique genetics: the growing conditions, like heat, nutrition and available water; and how long the fruit has been ripe on the tree under those conditions. If the fruit is a small variety, that grows under poor conditions; then as the fruit ripens, conditions go from bad to worse regarding heat or drought, that can cause ripe fruit to shrivel a bit too.
I hope that helps with the mystery of your cherry tree.
Welcome to Permies! I would definitely add the kitchen scraps. Thats adds some nitrogen greens, to the carbon rich brown of the leafs. The kitchen scraps will also provide more diversity of nutrients to your compost pile, also being fast available food for composting worms. Assuming your pile won't get big quickly, based on the amount of material you described is available, so, this means it won't heat up. The moist leaves make a good worm bedding, and the compostable kitchen scraps make good worm food. Keep it moist during the dry season, and it sounds like a good home for some red rigglers. The adult worms most likely won't make it through your cold winters, but their eggs will. So once they build up population by early summer, your kitchen scraps will be eaten as quickly as they come, plus the leaves will slowly get eaten, and you'll be left with the best compost money can buy. You have enough space to do a windrow style worm bed. So once it builds up, you keep adding to one end of the pile to make a windrow; then as the other end with nothing added, will be left with just worm castings, you harvest from the old end, and the cycle continues on. You can build your windrow to travel like a very elliptical circle, so it can continue on moving without interruption.
Im not a cranberry expert, but from all my experience studying them. The feilds are irrigated like any other crop, if needed, until harvest: at which point they flood the feilds, to float the berries for easy pickings. These are called bogs, because they are built to hold water for the harvest. They may be designed to hold extra moisture well, but they aren't like a pond from my understanding. During the rainy season, you may have times of standing water, when it rains very heavy, but they are grown in areas of fairly sandy soil with good drainage around the sides, mostly sand. So from my limited observations, they are fairly well drained, and won't be much like a duck pond, unless your pumping in massive amounts of water during harvest. For most bogs, the harvest is one day, and the water drains through the sandy sides quickly. The berries don't need flooding to grow, the flooding simply alows the berries to float when shaken of, so they are easily scooped up on the surface of the water during harvest.
You might be able to forage ducks there, during the dormant season, when they're not actively growing, but even then im not sure if that trampling will damage the crowns. Cranberries are fairly fussy, only growing in a few spots commercially, requiring unique growing conditions. I think you will need to be the new frontier in the cranberry permaculture department, as cranberries aren't widespread like other forms of plant agriculture. For ducks, rice feilds are new thing in permaculture!
Do you consider composting worms livestock? If you have the space, like a temperature stable area, maybe a basement: when done properly, they don't smell or attract bugs. There are lots of ways to achieve this if its something you would consider.
The best way I know of to stretch chicken feed, is the fermented soaking process. Essentially every day when you feed your chickens their ration, you use something like a five gallon bucked, to start soaking the next days feed ration. This is said to increase feed efficiency, and reduce overall consumption by up to 40% without reducing daily gains or health. If you want to learn more, I'm sure you could find YouTube videos on it. Justin Rhodes does this, and I'm sure he has videos better decribing the process.
Is it possible to do seasonal tilapia farming, with floating pens? That may be another way to create byproducts to increase production. Another option is a small flock of ducks, that will drop their fertalizer in the water, to increase fertility in the pond. Of course both options need planning to create balance for maintaining good water quality.
I second that no draining is needed. In fact they may grow faster if water temps alow them to keep foraging when their is no draining. They go dormant for the dry, or cold times of the year. So if you can minimize that dormancy it should equate to faster growth. Many aquaculture growers just use traps to harvest, and never drain their ponds.
You can get a test kit for NPK and pH. Leaf Luster sells these test kits with the capsules and they work well enough. Once you've determined with testing, those parameters are adequate, you'll know iron is the issue. Most people who container garden citrus have regiments they follow, with chelated iron being one of them. Because citrus like acidic soil, people tend to make their own soil mixes spacifically for citrus. They will also use Cal, Mag and Zinc in regiments like the chelated iron, as those tend to become deficient fairly quickly in container growing of citrus. Especially considering the acidic mix doesn't allow much use of alkaline mineralization like lime. Even with the best soil mix, using worm castings, mycorrhiza, azomite, greensand, rock phosphate, compost both fungal and bacterial dominate, the best compost teas, even foiler feed, and every good ammendment, even a little lime in the original soil mix, to keep the pH perfect: the citrus will quickly grow filling the pot, and strip that soil deficient of the elements in that regimental line up. So thats why people augment with those supplements as needed, foiler feeding, and watering them in as needed. Welcome to container gardening with citrus: its a whole new ballgame, keeping those guys happy in containers.
I don't blame you, its actually the most permaculture thing to do, rather then consistently battling against nature and the prevalence of those persistent distructive diseases. Lots of hardy options. They have disease resistant scions and matching qualities of diesease resistant rootstocks for apples concerning fireblight. Im not sure about peach cultivars, though, and the diesease in your area. The good news is, with all the types of fruit, you lave lots of options. Maybe try Pawpaws?
Probably not what you wanted to hear, but planting other trees not susceptible to the diseases in your area, will at least give you some hassle free options while you decide the fate of your other trees.
As everyone else said, it looks fine. If your treating your trees with chemicals, that can harm or burn the leaves, which may cause leaves to look less then ideal especially if it was treating during heat. Also not knowing how to properly water trees, can cause people to think the tree is well watered, when maybe it's not: or the tree is just doing its normal response to heat or drought stress. Trees will base there water consumption on things like temperature, so if the tree is heat stressed, it will use lots of water. I'm not saying any of these things are the case, just that there are many potential scenarios that may cause older leafs to loose their luster before expected, and that unfortunately watering is one of the most commonly misjudged things in Arboriculture and Horticulture: as those who haven't taken the time to study all aspects of cause and effect related to watering, don't understand watering can be a science. Soil is a science, that interacts with aspects of hydrology and the water science relating to the various aspects of the relevant conditions involved. Investigating water effectiveness is critical to improving application. Sometimes the little water that soaks in, isn't enough to change the trees mind, in expressing heat stress, or early leaf drop. Prolonged dry soil can affect nutrient absorption, sometimes causing the appearance of very mild symptoms of some nutrient deficiencies, but so can some types domestic water supplies: if they have been water softened, or have certain high mineral contents like in hard water. Nothing to cause alarm, as long as it doesn't get loved to death.
The best suggestion is as others have already mentioned, don't worry. I would add, observe carefully, and you'll undoubtedly know when there is cause for concern, with properly guided inspections. Tree health books are great resources to lean this useful knowledge, for lifelong application. I would also add, always research multiple reputable sources before implamenting things, and seek the advice of those who have enough experience to understand exactly whats happening, kinda like you did hear, getting whole bunch of a second opinions.
You will need to search out online, the exact carbon to nitrogen ratios of each item your mixing into the compost. There are web sights that have extensive lists, that show average ratios of most composting materials. Once you have the rough ratios of N to C in each item by weight or volume, you can average that out to calculate the exact ratios in your mix, adding whats necessary to create the appropriate ballenced ratio of the completed compost mix. You can also do a search online, how to average ratios, and calculating percentage ratios by weight or volume. Simply apply those equations to calculate the average C to N ratios of your entire mix, once you find the C to N ratios of each material your looking to mix in.
Thats the most precise way to do it, though most people don't care enough to research these things...lol!
I would encourage you to scavenge a more diverse mix though. Free lawn trimmings, free coffe grounds, cardboard, kitchen vegetable scraps or even shead tree leaves. If you see people you know or neighbors struggling with raking leaves, or a lawn that needs mowed or raked. Offer to help and tell them you'll haul off that debris. It's doing good deeds, and carbon in the bank, or should I say compost bin.
There are drip systems you could implement that are low pressure, about 10 psi. You would need to install a pressure reducer on the line that feeds your drip system, and that system you could control with a simple battery powered valve controller. The battery powered valve controller is essentially just a timer, thats battery powered, and goes on the threaded facet, like any ordinary garden hose hook up. Your tote cistern storage system, should have enough pressure to run drip, but it may be smart at some point to identify at what water level, your pressure drops below 10 psi. You can mark that level, and know you'll need to hand water or refill your barrels before your drip system will evenly distribute the water, once it reaches the below pressure designated mark. If it drops below the recomended psi, hand watering may be wise to implement, to avoid dry patches, and plant losses from the ill pressured system.
It depends on if your totes are exposed to direct sun all day long. The longer they sit throughout the day exposed to the sun, the warmer the water gets, with the potential for it to get to warm by evening. Im not familiar with the data to calculate exact temperature possibilities, but can say it is cause for concern with exposure to full sun. This means you may consider options to shade the totes, or do a second coat of white paint, over the black paint. If those arnt options, you could also water in the mornings, when the water is at its coolest, testing the water by feel before usage on mornings after unusually hot days. If it feels to hot, dillute it down with cool water from the hose. That will at lease drastically minimize your domestic water usage, while helping you utalize the rain water collected. Chose the option that most easily applicable for you, and I'm confident you wont have issues.
Silver Maple might do ok with that much water, and Black Cottonwood or a few other types of Cottonwood may grow well in zone 5b with all that much standing water. Certian types of Willows will grow ok in those conditions too. Certian types of Aspen may also grow well, and essentially any type of tree you see growing right next to bodies of water, where the water table is up very high most of the year. Sadly in that hardiness zone, most of the tree species that will grow well in that much water, tend to be poor quality wood. That means it grows up fast, and tends to break apart in storms. So to avoid large hazardous trees with costly removal scenarios, plan on renewable usage, if implamenting larger tree species: like planting a cottonwood tree, growing it for 10 or so years, then before it gets to big to easily remove and replant, harvest the tree and make shitake logs. Softer hardwoods won't be long lasting mushroom logs, but they will make good use of the material if you dont have other applications. If big trees aren't an option, Willows hardy to zone 5, may be your best option.
Go to Living Web Farms, YouTube channel, and look through the videos they have posted. They have several series on the very topics your after. One series is on Mixed Annual Cover Crops for Soil Fertility. Start with that series, and look around, they have other videos that are good as well, in the topics your after.
Being that concrete last a very long time, from my perspective, it's a good use of resources and energy, if you build things to last. In housing, it can reduce expended energy cooling in the summer, and if set into the ground a bit, that can reduce heating in the winter. Only concrete is long lasting set deep in the ground, so it's a no brainer, when it comes to energy efficiency in building. People tend to look at resources and energy in the short term, so lets expand on that thinking: After all, humankind is but a blip in geological history, so wisdom dictates geological history carries knowledge worth weighing. When the earth makes rock, its energy intensive, yet since the rock lasts through the ages, its an efficient use of that energy. Being no shortage of rocks, gives good testimony to this fact. Dirt takes longer to make then stone, like Igneous rock for example, as dirt is the proven byproduct of that eroding stone. So be it dirt or clay, these products are more time and energy extensive in its making, geologically speaking, not to mention less aboundant then stone: with organic matter as a byproduct of that dirts efforts. So to chose between building materials like dirt, or concrete, I think concrete is a good use of resources: as rock has less energy and time expended in its creation. Put the dirt to work growing food and other renewable resources, plus harvesting carbon to further increase fertility; then let that which isn't productive in such ways be built with. Concrete can also be 100% recycled, and used for other purposes in building lasting homes. Concrete is a renewable resource, that will last through the ages, like the stone it was made from. Personally, I think making stuff out of concrete is good. I would just add, spend the extra money or effort, to make what you build last through the ages, and it's energy well spent.
The oil will float on top of the water without being emulsified. To determine if the extract is in oil form, will depend on the methods of extract and whats being extracted. If I recall most seed extracts purchased from suppliers typically are in oil form, and made from distillation extract processess. Otherwise it would be a tincture, made with water and or alcohol.
The best method I know of to emulsify your mouthwash, without adding things like alcohol, is to use a high speed blender. Add your water, then your essential oils at ratio, and slowly crank up the blender to high speed. After maybe five minutes of high speed blending the mixture becomes emulsified.
A word of caution to anyone using neem products, that may be ingested. It has been documented as a reproductive disruptor, that should be avoided if pregnant or expecting to become pregnant.
There should be dormant lateral buds where you would like branches to be, so look into notching: then use the notching technique above the lateral bud you would like to activate. Notching is just surgically severing the canbium layer, to disrupt the chemistry which controls apical dominance.
Don’t prune off any branches this season, as that will slow root establishment. Once you get the structure you want there from notching, you can also use notching to slow growth on limbs you don't want. This will alow you to delay pruning off any braches untill your desired structure is well enough established, so it doesn't stress the tree in its development. People will say prune young trees heavy, but I say don't: as it can cause stress that in some cases permanently harms the tree through altered epigenetic expression. This can make trees higher maintenence from lifelong obsessive suckering, and as a result shift energy away from fruit production.
A notch can just be a single surgical canbium depth slice, about 1/3 to 1/2 the circumference depending on application, in line with the vascular flow directly above what your trying activate, or directly below what you would like to slow the growth of. Sometimes with trying to slow the growth of limbs, typically designated for future removal, the notch will be a 1/16 cresent shaped sliver of the canbium that gets removed. This is because a single slice closes to fast for the desired application. These types of notches for slowing growth need always be on and outward from the appropriate branch collar.
Also always properly disinfect your tools, rubbing alcohol works the best.