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What is wrong with my trees?

 
Posts: 3
Location: Michigan
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We planted 5 trees six weeks ago. 3 apple. 2 peach. None look happy. I was instructed to water well 3 times a week, fertilize once weekly. All summer. With something that looks scary and is called blue juice. I've done that a few times, not once a week. I was told if any look like they have fungus or bugs, to spray once weekly with Neem oil in water. I've done that one time recently to see if that helped. It didn't seem to.
After sending the photos of the trees now to one of the people we got them through I was told to stop fertilizing until fall.
I know nothing about trees, I thought I was prepared to try after reading books about planting them, but, is this really just going to go away with stopping fertilizing?  

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gardener
Posts: 2053
Location: West Tennessee
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Hi Moriah, welcome to Permies!

Sorry to hear about your trees. Here are my thoughts. I think the leaves in the first three and maybe the last picture look like apple scab. I think the dark edged looking leaves in the fourth picture could be fire blight. The fifth-seventh pictures with the kinda orangy-red spots on the leaves looks like a disease called rust. Hope this helps!
 
Moriah Taylor
Posts: 3
Location: Michigan
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Well shoot! Different things huh? So, in my brief understanding their outlook isnt good.
What should we do?

I will be researching tomorrow.

Thank-you for the welcome, I'm glad I found this forum, it seems like there are a lot of interesting things to learn here!
 
James Freyr
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We have a couple wiki's here on Permies of books by Michael Phillips. I own the Holistic Orchard one, and it offers some good information on how to manage and prevent diseases in fruit trees.

https://permies.com/wiki/73433/Apple-Grower-Guide-Organic-Orchardist

https://permies.com/wiki/73426/Holistic-Orchard-Tree-Fruits-Berries
 
pollinator
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All in all, those trees look like they survived the transplant OK, so that's good news.  And all in all, the damage to the leaves doesn't look in any way to be life threatening.

If your desire is to go chemical free (as most Permies are trying to do), then it'll take some time to get the greater ecosystem into balance.  When you introduce a new tree (or trees, as is the case here) into a previously uncultivated space, all the resident bad insects and even microbes around find a new target with tasty leaves just waiting for them to attack.  That looks like your situation.  But the necessary predator insects may not yet be present that will keep the bad bugs in check.  So the process of building out the greater/macro space will take some time.

I used to read this stuff and think, "Yeah, whatever", and then I'd go out there and spray my citrus trees to get rid of the aphids and leaf-cutters.  And every year, it just seemed to get a bit worse.  And I'd get on this forum and others and read people talking about integrated pest management and natural solutions and I'd think, "But they don't have the aphid pressure that my orchard has."

Well duh, no Marco, they don't because they aren't killing all their ladybugs and wasps and spiders and praying mantis's.  I stopped spraying and it was ugly --- for a year.  But the next year, in combination with planting a rich diversity of understory plants/veggies/flowers, I suddenly found that I had no aphids.  No more scale, no more mites, and because there were no aphids I had fewer ants.

So . . . do the stuff you know that will help the plant grow and get tough:  mulch, mulch, mulch.  Start a compost pile about 3 - 4 feet from the tree trunk and let that feed the soil below the tree.  Put it on the south side of the tree to keep the roots and soil on that side (the sunny side) shaded and moist.  Then, as you turn the pile, you'll be feeding the soil all around the base of your trees.  Its a slow-traveling fertilizer system.  Healthy soil = healthy plants.  Take a long-term perspective on this: lots and lots of slowly decomposing carbon (branches, vines, other biomass) will continue to feed the tree roots and the fungi that make their home on and among the roots.

Plant a variety of flowers and other plants in and around your orchard, and don't be too quick to clean them up when they start to get leggy and tired at the end of the growing season.  Your predator insects need a place to live and to over-winter.

As for the damage you are seeing right now, I wouldn't get too worried about it.  Its summer and leaves start to look a bit ragged now.  They are still photosynthesizing and overall, those trees still look very healthy.  Adequate water and continuing to feed the soil will assure that they'll get through these hot months OK.

Keep us informed and update this thread as the months pass.

Best of luck.
 
Marco Banks
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And one more thing: looking again at the pictures, it appears that the trees are planted on a lawn.  There aren't any photos of the base of the tree, but I assume that there is grass that comes up somewhat close to the base of the tree.  You'll want to remove that/kill it as you go forward.

Think about it this way: a bad bug is cruising around, looking for something to eat.  He sees grass, grass, grass, grass, grass . . . and it isn't anything he's interested.  Then, on the horizon . . . what is that? . . . it's a feast, just waiting for me to eat!  The grass monoculture makes your tree stand out in particularly stark contrast.  Its like an oasis for bugs in a desert of grass.

So . . . the formula for success:

1.  Flag down the dude who is out in your neighborhood chipping a tree and offer to take that load of wood chips off his hands for free.  2 hours later, he dumps them in your driveway and you give him a cold water/soda/beer/Gatoraide in gratitude.  He saves a dumping fee and you get free carbon.

2.  Put down a layer of newspaper or cardboard over the grass.  I try to remove the tape from the cardboard first, or I find it for years afterward.  Wet it down to keep it from blowing all over.  Put a 10 inch layer of chips on top of the newspaper/cardboard, thereby smothering the grass.  Water it well.  Soak those chips so that they begin to break down.  You'll start to see fungal networks within 3 months or so -- it's crazy how quickly fungi colonize wood chips.  The worms will have an orgy under the cardboard and you'll notice a massive increase in earthworms by next year.

3.  Get some seed and start a bunch of support plants in pots.  Variety is the spice of life, and the stuff of a healthy ecosystem.  You don't have to buy seed -- just look around and find it in your yard (or other people's yards).  I'm not above snipping a cutting or two from a public space.  Don't ask me about why all my rosemary plants are exact genetic duplicates of those planted at Disneyland.  The big idea: get 20 or more different support species that'll go into your orchard soon.

4.  In 2 months, as the chips have now shrunk down by half, your nursery of support plants will be ready to go into the ground.  Dig back the wood chip mulch, punch a hole through the cardboard (if its still there and hasn't completely disintegrated by now) and plant the flowers, veggies, herbs and other plants all around your fruit trees.  The grass that used to be there should be completely gone by then.

5.  Next year, rinse and repeat (except now you don't have to put down the newspaper to kill the grass).

6.  Watch the population of good insects increase exponentially.

Best of luck.
 
Moriah Taylor
Posts: 3
Location: Michigan
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Wow! Thank-you for all of the helpful information.
Yes, the trees were planted in a yard... we are removing the sod and putting down mulch as suggested, tonight!
I bet this is part of what is wrong with some blueberries I planted a couple of years ago, which are alive but haven't grown a bit -opps-
I attached a photo of one of the stems, the bark is white, thoughts?
Also in the third photo you can see how far the new trees are from very old fruit trees (not very). The old ones make tiny, sour, apple scab, deformed apples. I asked when we bought the new trees if the old have to be cut down and done away with first, or if we should plant the new far from these old ones and they told me no, it wouldn't be an issue. What are your thoughts on this? I just want to make sure :) All of my knowledge lies extensively with animals. We wouldn't take a diseased old back yard bred unproductive goat and breed it to a show dairy goat or keep them together so it seems odd to me but I know very little of trees.
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This will take every ounce of my mental strength! All for a tiny ad:
Hope in a World of Crisis - Water Cycle Restoration
https://permies.com/t/118080/Hope-World-Crisis-Water-Cycle
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