How can I boost the growth of my newly-planted trees in a backyard with lots of established trees?


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I have two main questions concerning my backyard. Then I provide you with some background to the existing trees in my yard. I know that this thread might look extremely long to most of you, but please do not get discouraged by my verbosity. In order to answer the questions, apart from the questions per se, you don’t need to read the rest of the thread. I have provided the additional information just for those who want to get a better understanding of what is going on in my backyard and might offer me some pieces of practical advice on how I can successfully grow more trees in a small space. Here are the questions:

  • If in my backyard there are many established trees with widely-spread roots which hamper the growth of any new young tree in the yard, can foliar feeding the young trees make up for their poorly-developed root systems? I assume since thin roots of younger trees cannot compete with the thick roots of the bigger plants, the newly-planted trees cannot get enough nutrients from the soil so I guess I might be able to tackle this problem by feeding them through their leaves, am I right?
  • I know that there should be a balance between the growth of the canopy of the tree and its roots, so I want to use as much fertilizer as possible in the ground. I have already added sheep manure and compost to the topsoil of my backyard. I also have bought one gallon of liquid humic acid since I have heard it can encourage root growth. However, I don’t know how much humic acid I should use per tree. Unfortunately, the instruction provided on the container is not helpful, since it only says for the fertigation in the orchards 4-12 liters of the product should be used per hectare at every application. So with these numbers, can anybody tell me how much humic acid should I use for every single tree? Note that, this specific product contains 3% soluble potassium or k2o, 16% humic acid, and 3.5% fulvic acid. In other words, since it’s not pure humic acid and it also has k2o, I do not want to burn the roots of my trees by feeding them too much potassium.
And here is some additional information about my trees:

I have a small backyard in which there are a few fruit trees, including some established persimmons, figs, grapevines, and citrus trees. I have never had any specific problem with these older trees, (except the grapevines, that I’ll elaborate on their problem in a minute). These trees are vigorous and productive. They were planted decades ago when dwarf and semi-dwarf trees had yet to become popular so all of them are full-size ones. To make matters worse, over the course of their growth, other than the occasional trimmings of their dead and broken branches, they have never been pruned. So you can guess how tall and massive they have become after more than forty years of growth, and how vastly their roots have been developed under the surface. In fact, last fall, the roots of one of my fig trees had reached water pipelines under the ally a few meters away from its trunk and had created an exclusive underground pond for itself until four cruel public utility workers after two hours of intensive work repaired the broken pipe and cut the roots of my innocent aquaphile fig which was just in the pursuit of purified tap water.

The grapevines are another kettle of fish. Over the last two or three years, they have shown different signs of illness. For example, in summer, some brown spots appear on their leaves. The grapes themselves also become dry and black and turn into moldy raisins. In some cases, only around twenty percent of grapes in a cluster are edible. After googling and browsing some horticultural websites, now I believe the trees are suffering from block rot disease caused by a fungus called Guignardia bidwellii, so I’ve bought some specific fungicides to spray on the trees this year (I should have done the first round of application at least one month ago, but due to the coronavirus outbreak I have not been in the mood). Moreover, last year, one of my grapevines did not break dormancy and died. When I wanted to chop it down, much to my surprise, I learned that the poor tree did not have any roots whatsoever. Back then, I could not find the source of the problem but now I am quite sure that some nasty white worms, or larvae to be more exact, had devoured the roots of vine completely. I have not seen these horrible larvae in the flesh, but since last summer many beetles (the mature form of root-eating worms) flew in my yard, now I am quite certain that my soil has been infested with these insects. Note that since these insects have a three-year life cycle and eat the roots for more than two years they must have caused quite a lot of damage to the trees in my backyard. To tackle this problem, I have already bought a bottle of Diazinon and I hope that by the end of this summer I will get rid of these worms. With that being said, I am still quite satisfied with my old grapes, because they bear ample edible fruits each year for me, and provide me with a cold shade under which I can take an afternoon nap even over the dog days of summer.

However, my main concern is the overall health of my newly-planted trees. Because over years I have learned that no young tree can thrive in my backyard. I have tried different trees, different varieties, over different years, in different spots. But all of my attempts have been to no avail. Of course, these trees do not die by themselves, they even leaf out(mostly yellowish leaves), blossom and in a couple of cases produce fruits. But, they do not get taller at all. Their annual growth is so insignificant that I cannot notice it without using a measuring tape, then after three or four years when I get frustrated I remove them from the ground and replace them with new ones. And this vicious cycle repeats itself. Believe it or not, I have been doing this for the last 15 years. Do you think these trees do not get enough sunlight? I doubt it. Although the long, established trees and their leaves block most of the sunlight, there are still some spots in the backyard that newly-planted trees can get 6 to 7 hours of direct sunlight, yet they cannot get taller. So against this backdrop do you have any specific suggestions for me on how I can grow healthier new trees in my backyard?
 
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I don't know what kind of trees that are growing in your yard. I know that in my neck of the woods we have trees the discharge a chemical called Juglone. Juglone is an allelopathic compound, a substance produced by a plant to stunt the growth of another plant. Sometimes the chemical is in the leaves and when the leaves fall in the Fall on smaller trees it poisons them and the ground. There are many trees with this trait. Welcome.
 
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I don't know what kind of trees that are growing in your yard. I know that in my neck of the woods we have trees the discharge a chemical called Juglone. Juglone is an allelopathic compound, a substance produced by a plant to stunt the growth of another plant. Sometimes the chemical is in the leaves and when the leaves fall in the Fall on smaller trees it poisons them and the ground. There are many trees with this trait. Welcome.
As far as I know, Juglone toxicity mostly occurs in the trees growing in the vicinity of walnut trees. I do not have any walnut tree in my backyard so I am one hundred percent sure that it is not the problem.
 
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Without pictures, I can not elaborate although there are only 2 reasons, well three reasons with what @oneeye posted, and that is sunlight and nutrition. However, I can give you the formula for the humic acid. If it is the same stuff as here it is 1 oz per gallon of water and 1 gallon of the mix per inch of caliper out to the drip line.
 
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Without pictures, I can not elaborate although there are only 2 reasons, well three reasons with what @oneeye posted, and that is sunlight and nutrition. However, I can give you the formula for the humic acid. If it is the same stuff as here it is 1 oz per gallon of water and 1 gallon of the mix per inch of caliper out to the drip line.
Thank you for the formula. These are some of the pictures of my backyard that I did take last year. However, at the present time it looks a little bit different, since over the winter I removed the small persimmon and I planted a few more trees.
IMG_1888M.jpg

IMG_0947.jpg
IMG_1879.JPG
IMG_0972.jpg
 
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I would say that the main reason for non-growth is a lack of direct sunshine. The only time new small trees can get direct sunlight is when the sun is almost directly overhead. The best sunlight is easterly. I don't know which way is east in the pictures and in every picture it shows shade or semi-shade.
 
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I would say that the main reason for non-growth is a lack of direct sunshine. The only time new small trees can get direct sunlight is when the sun is almost directly overhead. The best sunlight is easterly. I don't know which way is east in the pictures and in every picture it shows shade or semi-shade.
It is quite plausible, since there is a relatively tall building in the east side of the backyard across the ally (it can be seen on the top right of the third picture) which blocks most of morning sunlight. All of the currently established trees were planted well before this building was erected.
 
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Chuck's right and I agree no new tree can grow under the canopy of larger trees. I don't think anything you give them will matter at this point. Also I want to point out that there are many trees that secrete chemicals to ward off new plants not just Walnuts.
 
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So I suppose I should put some mirrors around the backyard in order to redirect sunlight towards the young trees. Is it a good idea?
 
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So I suppose I should put some mirrors around the backyard in order to redirect sunlight towards the young trees. Is it a good idea?
It would help but it is not a very realistic idea. You would have to have motors to keep the mirrors attuned to your little trees and even if you did the light would still be reflected light and not quite the same as sunlight. You would also raise the temperature, perhaps to an untenable level.
 
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It would help but it is not a very realistic idea. You would have to have motors to keep the mirrors attuned to your little trees and even if you did the light would still be reflected light and not quite the same as sunlight. You would also raise the temperature, perhaps to an untenable level.
Since I work remotely, and rarely leave my house I can personally take care of the mirrors and adjust their angles every 2 hours or so. But yes the raised temperature can turn into a serious problem since we already have unbearably hot summers in my home town.
 
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Since I work remotely, and rarely leave my house I can personally take care of the mirrors and adjust their angles every 2 hours or so. But yes the raised temperature can turn into a serious problem since we already have unbearably hot summers in my home town.
You would be a slave to your plants and besides, it is very difficult to fool Mother Nature for very long.
 
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You would be a slave to your plants and besides, it is very difficult to fool Mother Nature for very long.
If we consider using mirrors in a garden as “fooling Mother Nature”, then just in the field of agriculture, human beings have been successfully fooling Mother Nature by constructing dams, building greenhouses, and using grow lights, to name but a few.
 
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Ask ANYONE who makes his living in agriculture if he has never had a failed crop. Farming is a gamble. Farmers win a lot of the time but Mother Nature has her ways of getting even. Don't ever presume you are smarter than her.
 
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Ask ANYONE who makes his living in agriculture if he has never had a failed crop. Farming is a gamble. Farmers win a lot of the time but Mother Nature has her ways of getting even. Don't ever presume you are smarter than her.
I will do, and I’ll ask it from female gardeners too, just to be more inclusive and less sexist.
 
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Hi, sounds great you are using humic acid for your plant. if it is the same stuff as you mentioned here then use 1 oz per gallon of water and 1 gallon of the mix per inch of caliper out to the drip line.
 
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If you are into trees may I recommend 'The hidden life of trees', by Peter Wohlleeben. He is a forester somewhere on the Swiss German border region, so not exactly figs and persimmons, but I am sure some of the principles will apply. The interaction between established trees and newcomers is deeper than one might suppose, not just the chemicals in falling leaves. He discovered there were fungi whose mycelium carried chemical, and even electrical, messages between trees. It is a well written, fascinating, read.
 
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Y'all amuse me. @Chuck is on it. You need to learn what a light meter is, and what lumens and foot candles are, and what those measurements are out in the area of interest. Without the normal energy, feeding carbon or any magic food or other wishful thinking is dull minded.
 
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Hi, sounds great you are using humic acid for your plant. if it is the same stuff as you mentioned here then use 1 oz per gallon of water and 1 gallon of the mix per inch of caliper out to the drip line.
Thanks. This year I bought a more concentrated type of humic acid (50% humic acid, 50% fulvic acid) in powder form and I follow the instruction provided on its package (5 grams of the substance in 10 liters of water).
 
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If you are into trees may I recommend 'The hidden life of trees', by Peter Wohlleeben. He is a forester somewhere on the Swiss German border region, so not exactly figs and persimmons, but I am sure some of the principles will apply. The interaction between established trees and newcomers is deeper than one might suppose, not just the chemicals in falling leaves. He discovered there were fungi whose mycelium carried chemical, and even electrical, messages between trees. It is a well written, fascinating, read.
I just acquired the book and read its foreword and introduction. Sounds like an interesting book. Thank you for the suggestion.
 
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