Planting shade trees after hurricanes hit your area
After Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, I wrote about several species of shade trees that were well adapted to our area. These aren’t the only desirable species, but were those that I have seen giving consistent performance.
Whether you are planting a shade tree, fruit tree or ornamental shrub, October and November are good months to plant.
Planting Trees and Shrubs – We are entering the ideal season for shade tree planting in south Louisiana.
Technically, container grown trees can be planted anytime of year with success. However, certain seasons have the advantage of others.
Fall normally provides us with the best set of circumstances for transplanted container grown tree survival. The soil is still very warm at this time. This encourages vigorous root growth.
Cooler air temperatures and shorter days make for less crown or top growth. These factors allow for the young tree to establish a strong root base going into the winter or dormant season.
When the tree breaks dormancy in the spring, it will be better able to gather nutrients from the soil for vigorous limb and leaf growth.
This good season for root growth is important to transplants since most lose roots during planting or when they were balled in burlap.
The winter months ahead are usually rainy and will prevent the need for frequent irrigation that spring planted trees usually require.
Follow these steps when transplanting a shade or fruit tree:
1. Dig the hole at least twice the diameter of the root ball and no deeper than the height of the root ball.
2. Remove container-grown trees from the container. If the root ball is tightly packed with thick encircling roots, try to unwrap, open up or even cut some of the roots to encourage them to spread into the surrounding soil. Place the root ball in the hole.
3. Place balled and burlapped trees into the planting hole, remove any nails, nylon twine or wire basket that has been used to secure the burlap and fold down the burlap from the to half of the root ball or remove it.
4. Make the top of the root ball level with or slightly above the surrounding soil. It is critical that you do not plant trees too deep.
5. Thoroughly pulverize the soil dug out from the hole and use this soil, without any additions, to backfill around the tree. Add soil around the tree until the hole is half full, then firm the soil to eliminate air pockets, but do not pack it tightly. Finish filling the hole, firm again and then water the tree thoroughly to settle it in. Building a small levee around the tree will help to retain the water and allow it to soak in more thoroughly.
6. Generally, do not fertilize trees planted in the fall, although you can apply some slow-release fertilizer next spring. The use of a root stimulator solution is optional.
7. Stake the tree if it is tall enough to be unstable; otherwise, staking is not necessary. Drive two or three stakes firmly into the ground just beyond the root ball. Use strips of cloth or old nylon stockings or use wire (covered with a piece of garden hose where it touches the truck) tied to the stakes and then to the trunk of the tree. Leave the support in place no more than nine to 12 months.
8. Keep the area one to two feet out from the trunk of a newly planted tree mulched and free from weeds and grass. This encourages the tree to establish faster by elimination of competition from grass roots. It also prevents lawn mowers and string trimmers from damaging the bark at the base of the tree. Damaging the bark can cause stunting or death.
The mulch should be two to four inches deep and pulled back slightly from the base of the trunk.
October Vegetable Planting – there is still time to plant a vegetable garden for winter production. Your choices of vegetables are a little more limited, but several will produce if planted now.
Cabbage, leaf lettuce and broccoli may be transplanted in October. Turnips, collards, kale, parsley, radishes, beets, leaf lettuce, onion, Swiss chard, garlic bulbs and carrots may be direct seeded. Mustard greens, Chinese cabbage and spinach will sometimes “bolt” or produce premature seed heads if planted this late.
But, if you are willing to risk bolting, you can give them a try also. Shallots may be planted any time in the fall or winter. After they begin to multiply, you can harvest and separate the plants. Excess plants can be transplanted through out the winter.
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