I have never been good at growing gardens so I figured I would try my hand at an apple tree. We live in South Louisiana (about an hour southwest of New Orleans) and the guy at the nursery suggested an Ein Shemer apple tree because they can withstand the heat and only need a couple hundred hours of cold.
Before Hurricane Ida we had a peach tree (Florida King maybe?) that did very well, it produced so much that my son would sell the ones we didn't need to make extra money. Unfortunately it fell and hit my shed. It is still technically alive. This year it started producing peaches but they all fell off, probably because of the stress it is under from being at a 45 degree angle, so I realize that I will probably need to cut it down. But my hope is that after a couple of years that this apple tree will do just as good.
After I planted my apple tree I watered it very heavily every day, then after two weeks I started watering it every other day (still very heavily) with mostly rain water. That is I use rain water unless we run out, in which case I just use tap water from the hose pipe.
My first question is how much longer do I need to heavily water it every other day? My second question is what can I do about the pests eating the leaves? My guess is that they are stink bugs because I saw one chillin on one of the leaves today. I would like to stay away from pesticides, but I also understand if I can't.
Attached is a picture of how young and tall the tree is right now to hopefully give you some context.
You want to let the water drain down so that air can get into the soil each time. How long that takes varies by soil type. You want to encourage the roots to grow deeper to find to find natural water so gradually extend the time as long as the tree is not getting stressed. The smell of diluted urine will drive some bugs away as well as feed the tree..
Hi David, Welcome to Permies! That's a lovely little tree and I hope you can keep it growing well.
My advice will be basic so don't take offence - my climate is cool and wet so I'm not speaking from experience here, just from what I've gathered from reading around.
It looks like the tree came with a very small rootball, since the hole in the lawn is also quite small. You want to encourage the roots to go deep and wide to gather moisture and food for the tree, so I would remove the grass from at least a 4ft diameter around the tree - that will stop the grass being too competitive for moisture. Most people suggest putting woodchips around the tree as a mulch - this will protect the soil from drying out so quickly (make sure you water through the mulch not just on the surface though!). Eventually the wood chip will break down and in the meantime will feed beneficial fungi that help the tree roots extract nutrients from the soil. You could use a gravel mulch, but a plant based one will have extra benefits.
Longer term you could think about beneficial planting around the tree to replace the mulch in time. Here's a few threads that may be of help: