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Gardening is hard!   -   2003/08/14Viewed 319 times this month, last update: 2004/08/26




Gardening is hard! When Vanessa and I moved into the house, we planted a bunch of stuff, grass, ground cover, hanging pots, even some cacti. Most importantly however, we planted six trees:
Two avocado trees (of different, cross-polenating types)
A cinnamon tree
An apple tree
A tangerine tree
And a giant redwood!

All of these plants have required lots of TLC, especially just after they were planted.

The avocado trees weren't too hard initially, but grew slowly. After a few months though, one of them (avocado tree B) started dropping leaves! It dropped all it's leaves, and stayed a stick tree for a while. Then, in the early summer, it sprouted a few leaves. These grew thick and healthy, but because there were so few of them, the trunk got sun burnt, and started dying! So, today it got painted for sun protection. Sheesh.

The cinnamon tree needs sandy soil and high-tech drainage.

The tangerine tree is being eaten alive by bugs.

The redwood is doing it's own battle with the southern californa sun.

About the only thing that's growing like crazy is the apple tree! No idea why, but it's thick, strong, and covered in new growth. What's most amazing was the fact that we got it "bare root" which is techy plant-head talk for a stick with roots sticking out of it.

Gardening is hard!
Here is a close-up of the damage to the tangerine tree. Looks like bugs to me.

Update 2004/08/26:
For the last few months, I have been using a new all-purpose fertilizer: Neptune's Harvest, Fish/Seaweed Blend Fertilizer. This stuff is awesome! In just months, my Redwood Tree has put on four feet easily. It's come back from the brink of death by heat to sprouting feet of new growth in every direction! It's like it's bursting with new growth. It's put on so much height, I might have to stabilize it for this year's wind! It has also revived our Lemon plant from the point of a few wilting leaves to bristling with new growth and flowers!
It's worked wonders with our potted flowers, and even some really tough parts of my lawn!
Where can you get this stuff? My Mom's nursery (Laguna Hill Nursery in Mission Viejo) carries it, so it can't be too hard to find. It's reasonably priced, and goes a long way. My redwood showed dramatically increased growth after just two applications. (It needs about 10 gallons of the fertilizer mixed with water per application. The lemon tree needs just one or two gallons.)

Ok, the downside? This stuff is ground up fish and seaweed. To say it smells bad would be a substantial understatement. It smells only "bad" after about a day. Vanessa says she can smell it a couple of days after I've spread it around to all the trees. And I kind of go nuts with it. I give all the trees, vines and potted plants an application every 1-2 weeks, depending on how healthy they are. But, I'm telling you people, this stuff is thick, brown, foul, GOLD!

Here's a picture of the new growth on the redwood, believe it or not, these needles are very soft to the touch:

Comments:
Steve Kehlet (2003-08-18): I would have to agree. I thought a bit of gardening would be fun at first, but pretty soon I just came to accept I have a black thumb. Everything just dies. It's all too much work. I even hate cutting the grass now. I'm wondering if the CCBs in Rancho will allow me to roll out astroturf and silk plants.

Erik (2003-08-18): Haha! It's not your thumb Steve, it's the soil around here. We both live on a graded hillside in a desert. We're trying to plant in dead material in baking sun.

I just started watering my whole yard with a program that runs four times a day, just to try to get enough moisture into the ground. If I water more than 2 minutes, it just runs off. If I water less than 5 minutes per day, everything dies. So, it's 2 minutes four times per day, and every new plant gets a 18 inch ring of potting soil.

Still, I am enjoying it.

Kindigulous (2003-08-21): Compost. Compost. Compost. With all the vegetables and fruits you eat, you should be able to get some good humus in your soil.

Erik (2003-08-25): Actually, my mom who is a landscape designer and botonist, says that compost isn't good for planting, only for looks and weed supressing.

Compost will continue composting after you pack it around your plants, and in doing so will suck all the nitrogen out of the soil, starving your plant.

Planting soils made of peat moss, sand, and pummice stone is much better for planting.

Name Mom (2003-09-04): Commentwhat kind of bugs are eating the tangerine? Usual ones are aphids - at the tips on the new growth mostly. If this is the case, hose them off. If it is something else, let me see it, or describe it to me.

Erik (2003-09-05): Ok, there's a picture of the damage for you, Mom.

Name Mom (2003-09-05): Comment It looks like snail damage or caterpillar damage. Check the plant in the cool of early morning for snails. They are pretty easy to see and pull off, put into a baggie and toss in the trash. If you can't find evidence of snails (or their poop) bring me a real leaf on Monday eve. BT is a bacteria that destroys caterpillar digestive tracts, and in theory doesn't have effect on anything else. There are not too many leaves being affected, so you might want to consider the alternative of leaving it alone. good picture!

Meloncolia@msn.com (2004-03-20): I live in the high desert and want to find a avocado tree that will live here. I miss having my own tree. Anyone know of a tree that will survive up here??????

Erik (2004-03-20): From what I've seen, Acocado trees need:
Water
Drainage
Water
Shade
Water

My trees almost burnt to death in the So. Cal. sun, and were only saved by painting their trunks and branches with white reflective paint. (Latex I think, this paint was specifically made for this purpose. I got it at the local nursery.)

If you want to grow Acocado trees in the desert, plant them in a shady area, or keep them in pots in a shady area, at least until they're grown a bit, and make sure they get plenty of water.

Sheena (2004-05-20): Hi, I am botanist in UK and here compost is great. The all encompassing comment about compost is open to argument. It depends on soil and climate !!

Tim (2006-11-29): I have an avocado tree in a pot. It's only eighteen months old and frost nearly killed it last winter, hence the pot. It has thrived throughout the summer (on the coast near Brighton) and I have now brought it indoors to prevent a repeat of last years frost damage. (What frost???) Most of the leaves are going brown and shrivelling; is this due to central heating? I have put it outside today and sprinkled it with water from a can. Any ideas?

Erik (2006-12-04): I don't know Tim, I'd check to make sure it's getting enough, but not too much water, (dig a couple of inches down into the soil, it should be moist, but not muddy) and make sure it's getting enough sunlight.

Roxy (2010-08-15): How does the avocado tree do in the cold winter in the mojavi desert?

Erik (2010-08-17): Roxy,
I think the tree would be fine with the cold in the Mojave, but the heat is a problem. I have had to paint the exposed green branches of some of my trees with white latex paint as kind of a sunscreen. If some of the green branches are left exposed to direct hot sunlight, they can burn, and you'll loose those branches/leaves, which opens the tree to more sunlight...

I think if you can plant your tree(s) where they can be shaded partially, paint the vulnerable branches, and keep it watered properly, it'll probably survive.

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