Tree maintenance is of course needed and important in order to grow healthy, strong and resistant trees
Fruit Trees and Tree Crops
Fruit trees and tree crops must be regularly watered during the dry season to achieve good production and larger fruits, especially in the first few years. Here are some suggestions for watering:
It is better to water trees with a lot of water very week than with a small amount of water every day or two. This will encourage roots to grow down farther
looking for water so they will reach ground water faster
- Use watering pipes
- Water trees in morning or afternoon
Try to water reforestation trees during the dry season,
even if just a small amount of water is available. Even a small
amount of water during the dry season will increase production
and improve results. The best time to water is in the morning or afternoon. Swales can also help to catch and store water.
Plants use nutrients in the soil to live. Therefore, nutrients in the soil which are used by plants need to be replaced so that the plants will grow healthy and produce the best it can. The same is true for people and animals, but luckily trees don’t have to eat every day.
Fruit Trees and Tree Crops
Compost, liquid compost, manure and mulch provide many different nutrients and other benefits as well. The best place to fertilize trees is where the roots soak up nutrients. Underneath the outside leaves of every tree is the ‘root feeding zone’. This is where the plants outside roots are and where the tree will most easily be able to use nutrients. A small circular mound surrounding the root feeding zone will improve watering and fertilizing results. This mound circle can be enlarged as the tree grows.
Watering pipes can also be used to feed liquid compost directly to the trees roots in the ground.
Fertilizers which work best for fruit trees and tree crops are:
Compost and Manure. Compost and manure can be applied twice a year, just before the wet season starts and at the end of the wet season. Apply to the root feeding zone. Use about a 5 cm layer (the length of one finger) of compost or mulch, especially around the root feeding zone. This will provide many important nutrients for the tree
Liquid Compost. For trees up to 3 years old, use about 1 gallon (20 liters) of liquid compost, for trees over 3 years old, use about 3 gallons. Put some of it through watering pipes and some directly on the ground over the root feeding zone. Use once every 2 months during the wet season and only once in the middle of the dry season
Mulch. Apply mulch just outside the root feeding zone, closer to the tree trunk. Don’t let mulch touch the tree trunk, because if it does, disease or fungus could damage the tree. Leave about 10 cm of space from the tree trunk. Use a thick layer of mulch to keep the ground moist and to improve the soil quality more quickly. If available, seaweed makes a very good mulch for trees, but wash it first to remove excess salt
Urine. Urine is also a good source of nutrients because it contains lots of nitrogen and is constantly available. Citrus trees especially like urine fertilizer. Before applying on plants, urine should be diluted in a bucket of water. This can be applied more often for established trees, but not too often for young trees
Reforestation trees need less fertilizer than fruit trees, and fertilizing is most important when the tree is still young. On reforestation lands, the available nutrients are often not enough for plant growth. Good natural fertilizing techniques will replace these lost nutrients quickly. Natural fertilizing techniques which can be used include:
- Compost, manure or seaweed. These can be applied when planting to provide some nutrients for the young trees
- Legume trees are an important source of nutrients. Their roots provide nutrients and the trees can be pruned up to 5 times during the wet season, which will provide mulch materials. These trees can also be used as ‘pioneer trees’ and as mulch and nitrogen providers for other plants
- Mulch. For reforestation trees, mulch provides many nutrients which trees need
After 3 years, animals can be carefully introduced to the reforestation land. Animal manure will provide fertilizer for the trees
Mulching is an important part of tree maintenance.
Mulch provides many benefits, including:
• Holds water in the ground and helps to keep the ground moist for longer
• Maximizes the benefits of manure and compost if mulch is used as a top layer • Acts as an important source of nutrients for trees
• Improves soil quality by increasing organic matter and soil biota in the soil
Fruit Trees and Tree Crops
Continuously apply mulch to trees. A layer of up to 10 cm or more will give the best results. To avoid fungus or disease, don’t let mulch touch the tree trunk.
Organic materials which can be used as mulch include rice husks, coffee husks, seaweed (it must be washed first), tree cuttings, dry grass and weeds, and even used paper, boxes, wood and bamboo will make good mulch.
Compost and dried manure will provide more benefits to soil and plants if they are placed under a layer of mulch.
Natural mulch, such as leaves, grasses and weeds, will quickly form into mulch if the land is not burned. This mulch can be collected and placed around trees. Legume trees and other trees can also be pruned to provide more mulch materials.
Mulch will provide the most benefits if combined with swale systems. Rocks can also be used as a mulch, especially for dry areas because they will provide extra water for your trees during the dry season.
During the dry season, mulch will burn easily and can cause fires to spread. Therefore, burning the land must be stopped and fire should be prevented from entering your land. Community participation and understanding, as well as using practical techniques, is very important.