It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, or how vertical mulching almost helped save my tree...
Most of us are aware of the five basic uses for compost. Do you know another use for backyard compost? Vertical mulching keeps your trees healthy and helps conquer some of their most ardent antagonists. It will relieve soil compaction and in turn, increase aeration, moisture permeation, and add beneficial micro-organisms to promote feeder root growth.
I was introduced to vertical mulching the middle of last summer when within a matter of a week, my sugar maple lost all of its leaves. I turned to a Master Composter who explained how I could save my maple. With this new information I set out to revive this most beloved shade tree. With willing (ok, some coercion) help from my husband, we purchased a bulb auger for our drill. Next we drilled holes in the soil at about 2 feet intervals around the drip line of the tree. A tree drip line can be thought of as a wine glass with the base being the roots, the stem being the trunk, and the bowl the crown. Turn your wine glass upside down and you have the drip line.
My husband drilled down approximately 18 inches and I filled each hole with compost. After a few weeks of keeping the tree watered, new leaves emerged. We strutted around like peacocks as our neighbors marveled at our accomplishment.
This spring we held our breath to see if the maple would leaf out to its full glory. Alas, it did not. Our tree had been granted life support but was unable to recover from years of neglect. We will be replacing the tree with another sugar maple and this time I vow to water and vertical mulch on a regular basis. Being pro-active is my new battle cry.
Oh you may ask, why a tale of two trees? The maple’s neighbor, an ash, has been infested with the emerald ash borer and too has to be put down.
|… it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…|