Unhealthy Apple Trees; Add Compost?

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Unhealthy Apple Trees; Add Compost?

Postby Nate » Wed May 21, 2014 9:03 pm

I've been growing apple trees from the seed. Quite a few have died off and the rest of them have gone a very long time without growing very much and look unhealthy. I've given them a diluted solution of a fertilizer that's a mixture of seaweed, fish emulsion and blood and bone and waited a while but there hasn't been any change. I believe I need to work on the soil because what started as potting mix is now just sand and I don't think that does a good job at retaining nutrients.

Here's a picture of one of them:
Image

Is this where compost comes in? If so how should I apply it? Do I just layer it on top or do I need to dig it in? It's worth noting that I bought a couple of fully grown dwarf apple trees and they seem to be doing fine in soil that seems much the same.

Another issue is the makeup of the compost I'm using. A while ago I made a compost pile consisting of a lot of things, but a large portion of it was gum leaves. I'm aware of the difficulties of composting gum leaves, but it's been a while and what I've got seems to look pretty good. I'm still a bit hesitant to use it because, they are natives, and I don't know what effect that may have on apple tress. Also the weeds haven't taken a strong hold on the pile, which that must be saying something.

This is it anyway:
Image



Does anyone have any feedback on how I should go about fixing this problem?
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Re: Unhealthy Apple Trees; Add Compost?

Postby greg.l » Thu May 22, 2014 7:02 am

You should give your trees plenty of manure, preferably well rotted but whatever you can get. It is fine to place manure and compost on top of the soil, the roots will grow up into it. Another possible issue is root competition from mature trees. Are there any large trees nearby? That would make it hard for small trees to get established. Seedling trees should grow vigorously but need the right conditions - good soil, fertiliser and water.
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Re: Unhealthy Apple Trees; Add Compost?

Postby Nate » Thu May 22, 2014 6:22 pm

Well there's large trees everywhere but I don't imagine they're close enough to be a problem. I might have access to free horse manure so I could try that, unless there's a problem with it. I might trial the compost I have as well. Thanks, I'll do what you've suggested and see what happens.
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Re: Unhealthy Apple Trees; Add Compost?

Postby tam » Thu May 22, 2014 7:57 pm

Before you apply your compost I would mix the manure with it.
Also, clear the weeds at least 80cm around your plant. Lightly break the soil [not too close you disturb the tree roots] and place your compost & manure on this.
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Re: Unhealthy Apple Trees; Add Compost?

Postby Nate » Thu May 22, 2014 9:24 pm

I didn't know you needed that much of a barrier from weeds. I'll do all you've said. Thank you.
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Re: Unhealthy Apple Trees; Add Compost?

Postby tam » Fri May 23, 2014 5:52 pm

Got to give it room to grow. :D
Having it wide it gives you a mower edge so you don't mow the compost. Be careful not to put the compost against the trunk. I usually leave a 10cm gap all round.
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