More Winter Preparation Questions...

blackrag(6A East PA)October 25, 2012

1. With many of my trees going on 3rd and 4th leaf, this year I installed all kinds of limb-spreaders and limb-tying contraptions. Should I remove these for winter and re-install come spring? Should I be concerned about injury?

2. I have searched and searched poorly about something that has been discussed many times about wood chips. This year I mulched the trees heavy with wood chips in 6-8' rings. How far shall I pull back the chips from the trunk to deter the small critters? To bare ground? Won't I be exposing the top roots to the cold?

3. In zone 6, 45 miles north of Philadelphia, would I benefit in any way of painting the trunks white?

Thanks, Chad

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All my trees had a 3 feet tall sump pump hose as a tree guard. I kept the mulch touching the tree guard without any vole problem.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2012 at 3:25PM
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I'd like to see some weighing-in on the limb-spreader issue.

As for the mulch, it's not really there to keep the roots from freezing, it's to retain moisture and reduce the freeze-and-thaw cycle by stabilizing the temperature of the soil. Keeping it frozen is better than letting it thaw and freeze again.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2012 at 12:46PM
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alexander3_gw(6 Pennsylvania)

If the limb spreaders have been in place for much of the season, the branches may have set in place by now, depending on how large they are. Try taking a couple off, and see if the branches stay in place. If they do, I don't think there is any point in leaving them in place.

What town are you in? I'm in Bethlehem.


    Bookmark   October 29, 2012 at 1:30PM
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bob_z6(6b/7a SW CT)

I've just left any which were tied down. I had some with weights (clothespins with large wood chips shoved in the other end, as it was fast and easy to get the weight right). For those, I removed the weight (wood chunk) as I don't want them blowing in the wind during the hurricane and breaking the branch. Conversely, I figure that if anything, the tie-downs will actually support the tree a bit.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2012 at 2:27PM
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I'm in zone 4 and have a bunch of mulched fruit trees.

I protect the trunks with either split white PCV hose or paper wrap available from garden supply places. Both are to protect the trunks from thaw/refreeze ("sunscald")damage. both seem to work.

re mulch; I pull the mulch an inch or two away from the trunk. I have plenty of voles but have never seen tree damage so I conclude an inch or two is adequate. I did read once that if you have heavy snow cover the voles will tunnel around the trees in the snow. In that article it recommended compacting the snow around the trunk to discourage the voles. haven't had enough snow the last couple years to know if this is really an issue.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2012 at 2:07PM
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I've never had damage from the voles, but the rabbits are another matter. I wrap the trunks of my smaller trees with that white plastic spiral stuff and surround the blueberries with chicken wire.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2012 at 3:20PM
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I just finished painting the trunks of my twenty or so fruit trees. Up to what trunk diameter must one continue to do this? And how about the branches? Do you just take your chances with them and cut off any that split, or do you try to paint as many of them as you can reach? Northwoodswis

    Bookmark   October 30, 2012 at 5:21PM
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blackrag(6A East PA)

I just got power back at my desk at work since going off Monday (still out at home). My poor trees took a beating. I think I was able to right and stake most of them. 60-70 mph winds took the leaves off but I think the fact that most were limb-tied at more than 4 corners probably stabilized them. Out of 52 2-3 year-olds, I'm only worried about 1 not making it. (positive thinking)

I would say most of the 6-7" metal stakes got pulled from the winds. I think I am going to re-tie them all for the winter. For what it is worth, I think garden twine and stakes are more effective than limb spreaders. Competing leaders and new scaffolds I have had good luck with clothespins. Weighted clothespins and spreaders are quicker/easier but have been less effective for me. Thanks all. Chad

    Bookmark   November 1, 2012 at 8:12PM
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Am I the only one who uses bungees?

    Bookmark   November 1, 2012 at 8:41PM
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Itilton, can you post a picture of how your bungee cords are fixed to the tree? Thanks, Mrs. G

    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 11:58AM
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Ah, I decided to take them down for the winter.

I was visiting an orchard for a pruning and training demo, and the branches were breaking instead of bending, so I decided to leave this till spring. I'm just starting to try this, so I'm not sure how well it will work, but the spreaders sure haven't.

Sometimes, there just isn't a good attachment point for the bungees, tho.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 1:16PM
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That is exactly what I was wondering. What do afix the bungee to on the limbs? Thanks, Mrs. G

    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 1:25PM
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Oh, I loop them.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 5:10PM
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