The morning started off with a frosty cold. To help warm the bodies for the Garden Leadership Block A class, students helped fill the trailer full of wood chips. Being October 10th, we have not received much rain yet so getting the Suburban and trailer through the field was no problem. Had we received more rain, the mushy field would not have let us pass. This was tried last year resulting in a stuck van, tire ruts through the field and a overall muddy mess.
Once the trailer was full, we were able park in front of the orchard gate and use wheelbarrows to transport wood chips to the fruit trees.
This year we are trying laying cardboard down around the trees before placing wood chips down. In years past we have not used cardboard when mulching the trees. According to Debra Lauer, Master Gardner for OSU Extension “Mulch itself is a good weed suppressor if applied properly, so adding cardboard should not always be necessary. As to how close you can move the cardboard to the tree and still allow for water penetration a good rule of thumb is no closer than the drip line of the tree.” We will monitor the results of the cardboard mulching mix to see how it works for the Phoenix Orchard.
After working with Block A and Block B to mulch the orchard, we have transferred over 3 trailer loads and have completed about 2/3 to 3/4 of the orchard trees. When it comes to mulching the trees Debra goes on to say “Do not allow mulch (wood chips) to come into contact with the base of the tree. Allow six to twelve inches between the base of the tree and the mulch. You should be able to see both the trunk of the tree AND the flare of the tree. The flare is where the tree widens out from the trunk as it goes down into the soil. Mulch increases moisture retention and you do not want to have the bark of you trees constantly moist as it can soften bark and allow in too much moisture to penetrate which can actually suffocate cells that move food and nutrients up and down the tree. It can also increase the introduction of insects and diseases.”
Wet weather is on the horizon for Roseburg and we will try our best to complete the mulching with the help of the Suburban and trailer. I would like add a larger orchard gate higher up on the orchard to better accommodate the trailer. With an orchard gate closer to the top students wouldn’t have to push the heavy wheelbarrows up the hill.