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How to properly care for my trees

Posted by littleluey Zone 9 (My Page) on
Tue, Aug 23, 11 at 15:02

hello everyone,

i am a new citrus guy and i like some input. I live in zone 9, so it gets up to 116�F in the summer. I have a shade for the containers trees and i started putting shades for the in-ground threes.

This is my second year with fruit trees mostly in containers and mostly citrus, but i seem not to have a very green thumb. Some of my trees seem to be doing good while others are not and i figure that i must be doing something wrong or not doing something i am supposed to do.

Here is what i am currently doing for my trees in ground:

planted them using a citrus "soil mix" that i found at Lowe's. Hole 2x the size of the root ball, so aprox 24 inches wide by 20 inches deep so i can put some of that mix on the bottom.
Water them every saturday during summer, and every 2 weekends during winter. Fertilize using Osmocote on Easter, Memorial Day and Labor day weekends.

My containers trees i used the same citrus mix, but added some mulch (tree bark and chips) and some compost. I have one of them in Al's 5-1-1 gritty mix. Water every day during summer, twice a week during winter. Fertilize using fish emulsion every month or month an a half.

what do you guys think of this? is there anything else i can do to have healthy trees?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: How to properly care for my trees

Hi Luey, glad you found the forum. We have some very knowledgeable folks who can help you along. If you could post some photos of your trees, that's extremely helpful for the forum. Just upload your pics to photobucket.com, then copy and paste the .html code rigtht into the body of your message. That way, you'll see the photos appear directly in your message. Much, much easier that way :-)

You sound like you're off to a pretty good start, but I think there are some things you can do to help out your fruit trees, especially your citrus. First, where exactly are you in the country? That will help out some of our experts who hail from different parts of the country, and have some local expertise. If you're in the Western US, please think about including your Sunset zone, since we have so many microclimates out west that the USDA zone rating isn't really of much help to us in the Western part of the United States. Secondly, I'll try to address some issues with in-ground citrus, since I am not any kind of expert with container citrus (mine are all in-ground).

First, I've included a link on how to properly plant a tree - any tree, and especially fruit trees.

http://www.dirtdoctor.com/Tree-Planting-Detail-Newsletter_vq1941.htm

You don't want to amend your soil, especially at the bottom of the hole, total waste of time and money :-) You DO, however, want to make sure you first have good drainage, and secondly, have the tree set up to be percolated correctly. So, that means plant the tree a little higher than the well you're going to create around your tree at the drip line (edge of the canopy) or a little further out. Do your perk test (very important), so you know whether or not you're going to have a tree sitting in a bunch of water. That will kill a tree faster than anything. Secondly, you want to make sure you top with compost, worm castings, and then mulch, making sure all is away from the trunk to prevent rot.

Next, your fertilizer. Not a fan of Osmocote for in-ground citrus. You're much better off getting a good citrus formulation (higher in nitrogen, and has all the micronutrients). If you tell us where you live, we can give you a good fertilizer regime. I live in S. California near the coast. I fertilize every 2 to 3 months (depending upon the heat), and start around February and do Feb, April/May, July/Aug, and then one last application around Sept or Oct. or thereabouts. If we have early and prolonged heat, I definitely fertilize at least 5 times. If we have cooler weather, every 3 months seems to be fine. So, 4 to 6 times roughly for me, for in-ground citrus. I prefer Gro-Power Citrus fertilizer, but have used Vigoro Citrus with micronutrients as well as Lilly Miller Citrus fertilizer. Gro-Power has humic acid, which really helps the nutrients be taken up a bit better for me. I also use a micronutrient foliar spray when my citrus "wake up" after winter, since we have issues with micronutrient deficiencies if our winters and springs are wet and cold. I'm on DG soil, so my nutrients don't hang around well in the soil.

Watering. I water once or twice a week, a very deep, long watering. About an hour or more on drip. Basically, if I were standing with a hose, it would be 3 or 4 basins full of water. Twice a week if we have temps in the high 80's or 90's. I turn my water off entirely during the winter rains. All my citrus are in full sun all day on a south-facing slope. They do fine. If you have young trees, paint their trunks with 1/2 strength flat latex house paint (get the cheapest kind, and cut in 1/2 with water) to protect from sunburn. I can have my citrus in full sun since I'm in a pretty temperate area of S. Calif (about 6 miles from the ocean in San Diego county).

Patty S.

Here is a link that might be useful: Dirt Doctor - How to Plant a Tree


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RE: How to properly care for my trees

Thanks Patty for commenting.
Not sure how to find my sunset zone, but i live in Yuma Arizona, the SW most corner of Arizona in the the low desert. Right on the border with California and about 30 miles from the mexican border.
The original soil in my yard is desert sand, but i know that after about 10ft it gets pretty hard, i think it is called caliche, not sure on the spelling. I hear the locals say this soil has a lot of salt/minerals in it and the water is super filled with salt and minerals as well. Our water comes from the Colorado river. We don't get much rain here so i have to water the trees.
I see that my trees are planted to deep, i made that trench deep to hold water but the trees are also sunk in to the hole, they are not in a mount like you mentioned. Do you think i should re-plant them?
I need to find my camera and i will try post pictures. Thanks for the link, i will be reading that.


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RE: How to properly care for my trees

OK, i found my sunset zone, it is 13.


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RE: How to properly care for my trees

Let's get pics up, and then we can decide. For you, you actually have a situation where for young trees, you've got too much sun/too much heat. They should be getting some afternoon respite, and definitely a trunk/branch painting. Be SURE you use water-based flat interior latex paint, and cut it in half with water. Your little trees will be very happy about this. And, definitely see about getting a shade structure set up if possible. And you're going to probably need to water 3 times a week, deep watering during the summer. Yes, you're most likely sand on top of caliche (for those of not not familiar with this soil, think "dynamite" in order to dig a hole.) Do a perc test for sure. Dig a hole twice as wide as your rootball and as deep. Fill with water once and let drain. Fill, again. If it has not drained in 24 hours, you may have a drainage problem. That will tell you for sure. Let's get some photos to look at. The more the better. And, pick up the Sunset Western Garden Book. It is your gardening bible, Luey. And, pick up the Sunset Western Garden Book of Edibles while you're at it. Also, be sure to visit your land grand college's cooperative extension web site (think that's Univ. of AZ). They will have a wealth of knowledge about how to successfully grow citrus where you live in AZ. It can be done, folks in Palm Springs, whose weather is very similar to yours do a great job. Just have to take into consideration the heat, too good or not enough drainage (based on how dense the caliche layer is), and some afternoon shade. Plus, enough macronutrients, and carefully watching for salt build up in your soils.

Patty S.

Here is a link that might be useful: AZ Master Gardener Citrus Clinic: CITRUS AND DECIDUOUS FRUIT SPECIAL SUPPLEMENT


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RE: How to properly care for my trees

Patty!

All I can say is what a good heart you have to spend such quality time with citrus lovers as this. Amazing and a good reading full of important information for me here.

Thank you

Good luck Littleuey. It sounds like you live in a place I have always dreamed of.

Mike


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RE: How to properly care for my trees

Thanks, Mike, those are very kind words :-) Being a MG myself, I know the value of local MG organizations, as well as their supporting cooperative extension departments of the associated land grant colleges. They're great resources, and a lot of the conditions Littleluey deals with are much the same as our low desert areas of S. Calfornia. Some of the most beautiful citrus trees I've ever seen were in Palm Springs!

Patty S.


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RE: How to properly care for my trees

ok, i got pictures, we shall see if i do this right

[URL=http://s1179.photobucket.com/albums/x382/Luey_Ochoa/my trees/?action=view¤t=IMG_0245.jpg][IMG]http://i1179.photobucket.com/albums/x382/Luey_Ochoa/my trees/th_IMG_0245.jpg[/IMG][/URL]
[URL=http://s1179.photobucket.com/albums/x382/Luey_Ochoa/my trees/?action=view¤t=IMG_0244.jpg][IMG]http://i1179.photobucket.com/albums/x382/Luey_Ochoa/my trees/th_IMG_0244.jpg[/IMG][/URL]
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[URL=http://s1179.photobucket.com/albums/x382/Luey_Ochoa/my trees/?action=view¤t=IMG_0242.jpg][IMG]http://i1179.photobucket.com/albums/x382/Luey_Ochoa/my trees/th_IMG_0242.jpg[/IMG][/URL]
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[URL=http://s1179.photobucket.com/albums/x382/Luey_Ochoa/my trees/?action=view¤t=IMG_0240.jpg][IMG]http://i1179.photobucket.com/albums/x382/Luey_Ochoa/my trees/th_IMG_0240.jpg[/IMG][/URL]
[URL=http://s1179.photobucket.com/albums/x382/Luey_Ochoa/my trees/?action=view¤t=IMG_0239.jpg][IMG]http://i1179.photobucket.com/albums/x382/Luey_Ochoa/my trees/th_IMG_0239.jpg[/IMG][/URL]
[URL=http://s1179.photobucket.com/albums/x382/Luey_Ochoa/my trees/?action=view¤t=IMG_0238.jpg][IMG]http://i1179.photobucket.com/albums/x382/Luey_Ochoa/my trees/th_IMG_0238.jpg[/IMG][/URL]
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[URL=http://s1179.photobucket.com/albums/x382/Luey_Ochoa/my trees/?action=view¤t=IMG_0236.jpg][IMG]http://i1179.photobucket.com/albums/x382/Luey_Ochoa/my trees/th_IMG_0236.jpg[/IMG][/URL]
[URL=http://s1179.photobucket.com/albums/x382/Luey_Ochoa/my trees/?action=view¤t=IMG_0235.jpg][IMG]http://i1179.photobucket.com/albums/x382/Luey_Ochoa/my trees/th_IMG_0235.jpg[/IMG][/URL]
[URL=http://s1179.photobucket.com/albums/x382/Luey_Ochoa/my trees/?action=view¤t=IMG_0234.jpg][IMG]http://i1179.photobucket.com/albums/x382/Luey_Ochoa/my trees/th_IMG_0234.jpg[/IMG][/URL]
[URL=http://s1179.photobucket.com/albums/x382/Luey_Ochoa/my trees/?action=view¤t=IMG_0233.jpg][IMG]http://i1179.photobucket.com/albums/x382/Luey_Ochoa/my trees/th_IMG_0233.jpg[/IMG][/URL]
[URL=http://s1179.photobucket.com/albums/x382/Luey_Ochoa/my trees/?action=view¤t=IMG_0232.jpg][IMG]http://i1179.photobucket.com/albums/x382/Luey_Ochoa/my trees/th_IMG_0232.jpg[/IMG][/URL]
[URL=http://s1179.photobucket.com/albums/x382/Luey_Ochoa/my trees/?action=view¤t=IMG_0231.jpg][IMG]http://i1179.photobucket.com/albums/x382/Luey_Ochoa/my trees/th_IMG_0231.jpg[/IMG][/URL]
[URL=http://s1179.photobucket.com/albums/x382/Luey_Ochoa/my trees/?action=view¤t=IMG_0230.jpg][IMG]http://i1179.photobucket.com/albums/x382/Luey_Ochoa/my trees/th_IMG_0230.jpg[/IMG][/URL]


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RE: How to properly care for my trees

ok, that did not work, lets see this

http://s1179.photobucket.com/albums/x382/Luey_Ochoa/my trees/

just a link to my album in photobucket.
My appologies for the bad quality of the pictures, i just got the camera and i am learning to use it. i feel such a bad gardener, specially my apples and tangerines look terrible, i need help!

I do have white paint for thr trunks, i will be doing painting trees this weekend. I was reading in another thread about using vinager and fish emulsion as a bug threatment, can someone expand on how i can do this please? I am thinking i can use and end hose sprayer for both, is this correct?

thanks for your input.


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RE: How to properly care for my trees

i did the perk test on the last couple of trees i planted, and the water did go down. My other trees i didn't do it because I was not aware of it but the trench never really gets full, even after running the hose in to it for about 20-30 minutes. So i am thinking that drainage is ok.


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RE: How to properly care for my trees

Luey, just copy the .html code into the body of your message. When you preview your message, you'll see the photo appear if you've done it correctly.

Patty S.


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RE: How to properly care for my trees - Soil

Okay. Wow. You look like you're really on sand. Not just sandy soil, but I mean straight out sand! I would suggest talking to your local county extension office to see what you should do to amend your soil. Your trees are going to struggle for lack of organic matter in the soil, and the fact that you probably cannot water enough, since the water is going to run right out, and not be retained since you have essentially what appears to be nearly zero organic matter (which will hold water and provide nutrients). A little more complicated, but not an impossible venture. Hopefully, some of our citrus members in the desert will pip up, and provide you some better solutions, too. You can do it, but it's going to take some adjustments with your soil, I think.

Patty S.


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RE: How to properly care for my trees

LOL, yes i am! nothing but sand here. But there are also citrus trees all over this area so i know it can be done. Which makes me feel such a failure because i can't keep mines.

I also found out there is a peach and blackberries u-pick farm so i have also hopes for my peach and nectarine trees. I have been surfing the UA cooperative extension site and there is a lot of information there. I found out there is a gardening club in the city so i will look in to it as well.

I still like to know how to do the fish emulsion spray if anyone has experience doing that.


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RE: How to properly care for my trees

Fish Emulsion spray will not feed your plants what you need Little.

I would take up Patty's suggestions on fertilizer and give that a try. Her trees are showing that she uses a good product and that she knows citrus well.

The only thing I use FE for is to discourage insects on my trees and to feed my in-ground plants along with other good fertilizers.

YOu may have to fertilizer much more often than any of us with your soil type, but it can work:-)

MIke


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RE: How to properly care for my trees

yes, i see that the Vigoro citrus (6-4-6)is at Home Depot so i can pick that up and be ready to apply it by Labor day i hope.
And i wanted to do the FE as a preventive for bugs, just like you mention Mike. I am just going to pick up a spray bottle and try it.

I was also reading that a soapy solution will kill many of the bugs in gardens, so i will also try this.
I posted a similar thread in the Arizona forum hoping that someone in my area can give me some advice as well.
This weekend i am going to a local garden maintained by the UA extension and see if i can pick someone's brains while there.

thanks for all the help


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RE: How to properly care for my trees

While you are at the store, see if you can pick up one of them nose end sprayers, like those Miracle Feed Bottles and use that for spraying your plants down with FE. Works like a charm. It would take you for ever to use a spray bottle by hand.

Watch out for soap. You could burn the leaves with the wrong stuff. If you ask a member here called Rhizo what she would use, she can let you know. I forgot. It should be a natural soap.

Goos luck and let us know what you do please.

Mike:-)


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RE: How to properly care for my trees

Luey, be VERY careful with insecticidal soap right now. It's just too hot in your area to use it, you'll fry the leaves right off, now. Temps need to be below 85 degrees to use it. If you will get your citrus healthy and thriving, the chances of pests attacking your citrus are drastically reduced. The only pests I deal with are snails/slugs and Citrus Leaf Miner. I don't need to do anything but put down Sluggo in the winter and spring/early summer, and then spray for CLM in July. Let's get more water to stay in the root zone for your citrus right now. Once they recover, you can fertilize. If you fertilize in the state they're in right now (stressed), you can burn the roots. It's water and shade right now. You may need to amend the holes, top with LOTS of compost (6" I would guess or more), top with 2 or 3 more inches of mulch, keeping the mulch and compost away from the trunks. Definitely talk with your Master Gardeners or see about going to a class or seminar about citrus and fruit tree growing in your area. You have some very unique needs, but for sure it can be done.

Patty S.


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RE: How to properly care for my trees

thanks Patty and Mike, i will look in to getting more compost on the holes.


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RE: How to properly care for my trees

Hi there littleluey. Well I came upon this post because I wasn't sure if I could grow mangoes/avocados in my area. I am 20 miles south of you in San Luis AZ. Any advice you can give me for soil prep or any thing for our desert area would truly be appreciated! Thanks in advance.


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RE: How to properly care for my trees

Just a cupla notes from a committed Meyer lemon grower; personally I would lose the fish emulsion entirely in favor of a regular washing of the leaves, a periodic foliar fert. application, and daily attention to control bugs, slugs, etc. I have 8,000 Meyers in the ground and every tree gets looked at every day by someone. I personally check my garden trees every morning. Insects can be controlled by an IPM system, by hand removal, or by simple sprays; my favorite is Sevin. The other note that doesn't seem to have been mentioned is that citrus get about 85% of their nutrients from the first 18 inches of soil; so it is more important to amend "wider" rather than deeper... same with fertilizer. In sand or amended sand you may have to fertilize 5 or 6 times per year as the fertilizer will quickly be leached out of the root zone. Be sure to let the soil dry a bit between waterings; the shortage of water encourages the roots to grow seeking water; and after the root growth comes leaves and branches.


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