P71212+KThe sad little Scofield Tree in Felton Covered Bridge Park did not do much this year. (https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/135014809/posts/322 and https://tonytomeo.wordpress.com/2017/12/02/felton-covered-bridge/) In fact, it grew only about five inches taller, so is now only about four feet tall. The damage from the weed whacker really set it back. Growth was healthy on the side shoots, but that growth will need to be tucked back to promote apical dominance. The good news is that the vigor and health of the foliage of the sideshoots indicated that root dispersion was likely adequate to sustain healthier and normal vigorous growth next year.

Although the sideshoots will get tucked back to limit their competition with vertical growth of the main trunk, the stubble will remain to promote caliper growth of the trunk.

The trunk will be bound like a tree in a nursery; and the bound trunk will be staked for stability. Binding outside of a production nursery may not seem to be horticulturally correct, but is necessary for a straight trunk. The staking is done more to protect the tree in such a high traffic area than to support the tree. It would be better for the tree to do without binding and staking so that it can learn to support its own weight. Once the straight section of trunk is taller than about six feet, the bindings will be loosened, and eventually eliminated as the trunk lignifies into form.

A bit of fertilizer will be added to the soil around the tree before the last rains of winter. This might seem like cheating, bur for right now, the tree is too small to be safe in such a high traffic area. It will also be irrigated occasionally after the rain stops. It does not get much water, but will get enough to keep it vascularly active through the growing season. Too much water promotes shallower roots, which might damage the nearby concrete curbs and asphalt pavement. Valley oaks naturally disperse their roots very deeply, so the curbs and pavement should be quite safe for a century or so.


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