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Deep compost/ mulch for fruit trees.  RSS feed

 
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As in my other post about 10 inches of compost,  this is an area set aside for an orchard.  Some was deep munched with ground tree litter only and some with logs buried in deep mulch.  It is not as old as the garden spot. The oldest of this is 17 months old.  The buried log portion is from last April.

This first set of pics is the success.  The figs were planted May 27, 2016. They are now 17 months in the ground.  They were in 3 gallon pots and about 1/2" diameter when planted.  I set them on the ground,  poured 3 wheelbarrow loads of finished compost around each and then leveled the ground off with mulch. This build up the entire area about 14 inches.  To say they liked it was an understatement! Last January I pruned them back to 3 feet high.  The tallest upright varity is now 10' high and the widest bushing varsity is 9' wide.   The girth of the trunks is also impressive.  This past summer we harvested handfuls ripe figs.  There was not enough to can but I expect great things this year. 

More post and pics to follow and a question or two. 
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Sprawling type
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Distance across
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Upright type
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Girth of upright type. LSU purple
 
Greg B Smith
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These pics are of trees I rooted last January.  They were the size of a pencil when rooted.  They are now 4 feet tall and setting new shoots at the base.  They like it also. 

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Greg B Smith
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Now the questions.  With the figs I planted lots of other fruit tree types like  apples, pears, plums, persimmons, mulberry, and quince.  They are not doing nearly as well as the figs.  The deer pressure is heavy on them but even with that they haven't put on much growth.  Their bases went from pencil size to 3/4" which I guess is ok.  Their height did not change much but that Could Have been due to the deer.  They never looked really healthy like the figs.

So what would you do? Replace them with more figs?  Amend the soil?  Leave them be another year?  Are there other fruit trees that do well in deep litter?

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Mulberry
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Quince
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Mulch not properly broken down yet.
 
gardener
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Figs are often noted for being undesirable for animals.  The others, not so much.  Another thing to think about is that many of these fruit trees are native to dry summer areas like western China, Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, etc. Not really your climate.  I would consider paw paws, persimmons, and others native to wet humid summer climates like yours.  You could also try Asian plums and native Southern mulberries if yours aren't growing so well. 

I think our winters here are pretty similar to yours but our summers are very different.   One thing to watch for is to make sure you leave at least 6 inches around the trunk for no mulch. It looks like you tried to do this. Nice job. I want to make sure that others know that if you mulch around the trunk, voles, mice, etc. will snuggle up nice and cozy in there, eat the tree trunk bark without fear of owls, hawks, coyotes, etc. seeing them and kill the tree by girdling it.  Then they'll say thank you for the great winter vacation. Where's my spot for next year?

John S
PDX OR
 
Greg B Smith
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I have some loquat trees started from both seeds and cuttings. I will give them a try. 

So far I haven't had vole problems.  We feed about 10 stray cats so mice and other critters are in deep chimche when they enter here.  It is ridiculous thouh the numbers of deer we have.  They are a problem but I hate fencing.
 
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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For Apples, Plums, Pears, Peaches, Mulberry and Quince, you may have to deep a litter layer.
Try bringing the depth of your litter mulch down to around 3" and make sure the trunks have a 6 inch breathing room space that is at direct soil level. You might be smothering these trees with out knowing it.

The Persimmons will love you for the deep litter mulch though, just be sure their trunks have that breathing space, Persimmons need lots of mulch to feed the root systems.
Most times this isn't really evident to the grower because they are a fairly slow growing tree.
I have Persimmon trees that are 50, 15, 9, and 5 years old and the 9 year old has a trunk smaller than a coke can, it produces fruit now (just started this last year, it came up from seed). 

Don't forget that most fruit trees that are transplanted will take one or two years off from growing above ground so they can get really good root systems established.
Then they will start growing above ground at a fairly quick pace.
 
Greg B Smith
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I should clarity a bit.  The trees are All planted in pure compost 14" Above the clay soil line. I used the mulch and logs to level the ground around the trees.  Think 14" raised bed with the trees planted to the crown level but not buried.  The deepest root I could find are 2" below grade so the most they would too deep is 2 inches. 
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Raised bed 2 feet above grade
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Mulberry riot at surface level
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Roots about 2" deep
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Crown with some soil pushed back
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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First off, surely you  planted the trees deeper than two inches, that would mean that what you are thinking are the deep roots are more likely the side stabilizing roots.
These roots support the tree and prevent it from falling over in wind events, they typically run shallow before dipping deeper into the soil.

That clay you have placed all the compost and mulch over might be acting as a barrier layer, gypsum and lime will help break that barrier layer's particle tension and that will let the roots push down into the clay which will give more stability as well as more available nutrients.
a cup of Epsom salts sprinkled around each tree (at least a foot from the trunks) will give them an early spring boost too.

On my farm I planted 3 mulberry trees that were bare root yearlings (whips), their first year they grew three feet and increased the trunk diameter from 1/2 inch to 1.5 inches. Their second year the trunks went from 1.5 to 4 inches diameter and height shot up to 15 feet.
The third year (after a height pruning) they grew to 25 feet in height and the trunks grew to 6.75 inches diameter and they put off their first fruiting.

It may be that you are just expecting too much too fast from your trees, most trees take time to settle in when they are transplanted.
Our pear trees were 10 years old when we installed them but their first two years were all about root growth, this year we should get more than 4 pears if the weather does us right.
Our Arkansas Black Apple trees take two years to establish their root system then they start producing apples.
Our plum trees were planted as 2 year old whips and they are growing slowly but they have now established a good root system and last year we saw better growth, fruits will start to come on in two more years.

Redhawk
 
Greg B Smith
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Bryant,

You are correct, they are deeper than 2". The uppermost roots are 2" deep at the most. I was trying to say the crowns were not below grade.

  I will try the Epsom salt and will add lime and gypsum also. Thanks for the help.
 
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I live in Florida and my fig trees never had good growth until I mulched with compost mixed 50/50 with woodchips and watered them a couple of times of week.
Made all the difference in growth and fruiting.
 
Greg B Smith
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Update.
The trees are starting to take off! They have doubled in size this year.  The only ones still growing slowing is the persimmons. The figs are fruiting like crazy. 
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John Saltveit
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Nice job, Greg.

One word of caution though.  If you purchased those grafted trees as, say, semi-dwarf rootstocks to achieve a height of 15', say, and you planted them deeply, the grafted variety can take root itself.  When that happens, you lose the whole idea of grafting to semi-dwarf, and you may end up with a 45 foot tree.
Thanks,
John S
PDX OR
 
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