Tuesday, January 13, 2015

"Training children ... training TREES!"

Training children . . . training TREES!

Who would guess there are traits common to a well trained CHILD and a well trained TREE?   Children raised in a supportive, nurturing, and nutritionally rich environment usually grow into healthy, productive citizens.   Young trees will thrive and flourish in a similar environment…

SUPPORTIVE:   A young deciduous tree will benefit from support provided by proper staking to protect the tree’s trunk.   Place two stakes on opposing sides of the tree being planted; secure the tree’s trunk by wrapping a non-abrasive strapping material around the stake and trunk, and tie securely.   On opposing side, repeat this step.  On a windy day when a tree’s foliage collects the wind, the trunk is stressed.  Staking should provide support and prevent the young trunk from fracturing.

NURTURING:   When a child requires guidance, I often observe a parent or caregiver utilizing a teachable moment to instruct or correct the undesirable behavior.   A tree may also experience a teachable moment… an optimum time when a young tree can be pruned and shaped to promote stronger limbs and a single central leader.  (My trees class instructor was a Certified Arborist who advocated the pruning of young trees to create ONE dominant central leader.  He discouraged extensive pruning of mature trees unless storm damage occurs.  Young trees can benefit from healthy pruning practices.)

NUTRITIONALLY RICH:   While children will benefit from nutritional choices that include complex carbohydrates, proteins, and foods containing a selection of nutrients and micronutrients, an organic soil surrounding the root zone of a young tree can contribute to long-term health of that tree.  (Nutrient-rich soil is recommended when planting.)

As a young tree sets roots deep into the soil —as well as growing lateral roots— the soil quality and structure will affect the tree’s health and well being.  Compacted soil lacks tiny spaces which provide crucial oxygen for the tree’s roots; instead, a loose nutrient-rich soil containing organic matter is beneficial. Eventually, the tree must adjust to the native soil where it is planted, so mix in some native soil when backfilling new tree.  

Some trees might develop chlorosis if the soil lacks iron and manganese, so these nutrients may need to be added to sustain a healthy tree.  Using a liquid fertilizer containing 10% phosphorous is also beneficial to tender root development. With quality soil, adequate moisture and sun, a young tree will develop foliage and photosynthesize, creating its own sugars to feed its roots. 

Whether raising children or raising trees, the nutrition and environment provided should result in successful outcomes!

M. Lynn Schmid,   Certified Master Gardener
A.A.S. Landscape/Horticulture/Arboriculture