welcome to the organic green doctor blog

i am a family physician who was diagnosed with
early mild cognitive impairment(mci) amnestic type on december 21, 2010
this is a precursor to alzheimers disease
because of this diagnosis i have opted to stop practicing medicine
this blog will be about my journey with this disease
please feel free to follow me along this path
i will continue blogging on organic gardening, green living,
solar power, rainwater collection, and healthy living
i will blog on these plus other things noted to be interesting

Monday, October 27, 2014

it wasnt arbor day

that day is in april
not in october

a friend i worked with in practice had a tree die that
he had planted before he moved into his new house
this one was planted by a landscape company
it was a eastern red cedar
i big one it was

now its not entirely native to central texas but is a
native texas tree
it does well here much like the juniper or cedar
we all know about

the one that turns rust color in the winter and blows
all that pollen around
and if you are unlucky to be allergic to it
gives you cedar fever
red itchy eyes runny nose sneezing wheezing
it comes in waves all during cedar season
torture is what it is

now back to my story
this tree should not have died
heck i stuck 16 of them in my pasture as small twigs
just took a shooter shovel made a small hole
shoved it in
packed the dirt around it
never watered or cared for it
all have done well except the ones the bucks took
a liking too

now its was a full grown one he paid good money for
and good money to plant it
and it died

seems when he dug it up it may have been a product
of circling or girdling  roots

thats where when a plant is in a pot for a long time
the roots grow around and around in a circle
when you plant it if you dont do something about it
the roots just keep growing around and around in the
hole you plant it in
eventually choking the plant

think of it as strangling itself

so on this tree he decided to plant himself
with the help of 4 high school kids
the ogd thats me
as the director of operations

first when i said yes
i had no idea he had bought such a big tree
i have one i planted 10 years ago that i bought
for about $15
a small twig in a small pot
but i put it in a $50 hole
now my tree with no care is the size of the one he
bought for us to plant
it was about 20 ft+ tall and big around
we couldnt lift the tree and its pot up off the ground

so i listen to garden shows on klbj 590 am
and have for years
on there they have this guy who is the guru of arborist
in this area named don gardiner
ive heard him tell how to plant a tree over and over again
plus ive heard the dirt doctor from dallas do the same
they all tell the same story on how to do its

so the tree is a monterey white oak or mexican white oak
it does well in this area
its resistant to that ban of live oaks and red oaks in
this area
the dreaded oak wilt disease which can wipe out groves of
its semi evergreen which means it keeps most of its leaves
all year around

now i have planted seven of these on my property
all are doing well
i dont ever water or care for them anymore
i did some initial watering the first 2 years
they have survived our severe drought despite my
benign neglect

so a good choice for a tree here in central texas

dirtdoctor.com photo

first the tree was planted too deep in the pot
i dug out the root flare
it was 3-4 inches too deep

dirtdoctor.com photo

the tree should not look like a pencil but should
have a flare at the bottom even to where roots could
be seen
if you dont leave this flare visible
the tree wont grow as well
that part of the tree is not made to be underground
walk around a forest and look at how nature has planted
thats how it should be done

we used my 2 x 12 x 10 ft ramps laid end on end to
move it the 30 ft to the hole
it took seven of us to push this thing to the edge of the

the hole was dug the depth of the tree in the pot
from the ground to the bottom of the root flare
the hole was dug as a square hole 2 ft+ wider than
the pot
with the sides all roughed up
to let the roots grow not in a circle but into the
corners so that the circling roots wouldnt happen

also the bottom of the hole is not dug up any
so the tree when its set in will not settle down
on loose soil

then the plastic container a big one the size of a
number 2 washtub
i know what that is some of you may not

the sides were cut up and down and laid back
then i did a real hack job on all those circling roots
slicing down the side from top to bottom in
1/8 quadrants
no circling roots will happen to this tree

now my friend had a real worried look on his face
when i was doing that
but he trusted me i guess never saying a thing

then with great effort we managed to shove the tree
into the hole

we checked to be sure the tree was above the ground
leveled using a rock bar now you could use a shovel
laid across the hole
dont know what a rock bar is then may friends dont
learn but if is needed you will need one

we then back filled the hole with the original dirt
to about 3/4 full
we then watered the dirt well
used our shovels in a perpendicular manner
up and down
which worked the soil well down under the root ball
we filled the rest of the hole to the ground level
we did add two bags of compost to the top layer
although its not necessary to do that

then we watered in 10 gallons of seaweed solution
this will help stimulate the roots to grow

the we added 3-4 inches of good native hardwood
mulch in a circle around the tree making a
ridge about 4 inches high
a berm
this helps keep water from running away from the tree

dont pile mulch up against the tree trunk
it will damage the bark

we didnt put any mulch on the root ball of the tree
so it looked like a big doughnut

he chose to stake his with metal stakes
i usualy dont stake mine
be sure and remove these after a year
as they can damage the tree

now all he has to do is water it once a week the first
year or two

this tree wont make if its watered too much or not enough
use the finger test
stick the pointy finger in the soil
if its wet dont
if its dry do

after we finished i went home and picked up saturdays
austin american statesman 
there in the life section was a good article on how
to plant a tree and the names of the recommended trees
for this area

i realized that i could have written that article myself
followed the directions to a t
is what i did
except i hadnt read it before the tree was planted

so no it was arbor day
but we did it anyway
we did it correctly

the organicgreen doctor

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