At the house I came to occupy I noticed its fruit trees were in poor shape. The avocado tree, being a fairly tall tree seemed scraggy with barely any leaves on its branches. The dwarf orange tree resembled a mere green shrub. A good portion of its stump was attacked by borers and it looked like it was standing on a wounded leg. The only healthier tree was a mandarin tree with only a handful of mandarins hiding behind its leaves. I had no idea how quickly they would recover from their unhealthy state as I began to look after them.
I first decided to bring more light in the backyard by cutting down the tall rain trees that had shaded over most of the area.
When I researched the avocado tree I learned that some have shallow root systems and they need good soil and organic fertilisers. I put two compost bins, one between the avocado and the orange tree and the other one by the mandarin tree. I also made two large bays out of old pallets and placed them close to the mandarin tree to dump any fallen leaves – as they would gradually break down and enrich the soil.
I spread compost at the base of the fruit trees both as mulch and soil conditioner. I also fed them with fruit and citrus tree organic fertiliser. At this point it was wait and see and soon I noticed the avocado tree was generating new leaves. I gave the orange tree a hard prune and sprayed it with organic bug killer. I didn’t expect it to fruit- as long as it was healthy. Since I didn’t want to use chemicals to kill the borers I decided to expose the stump to sun and light and clear the sawdust residue build up in the cavities. I wasn’t sure if the assault would stop or I’d be forced to use chemical or even cut it down and replace it with another tree.
The small orange tree fruited two oranges the first year! I thought it was sending me a message saying ‘I’m glad you haven’t given up on me.’ The mandarin tree did better too. Although it was a slow process but the small improvements that I saw motivated me to keep feeding them and create the best environment for them to recover.
This winter it would be the third year that I first glanced at their sorry state. The mandarin tree has fruited so many that I care to count. The dwarf orange tree not only is in great shape but to my surprise it has fruited 15 large and juicy oranges. The avocado tree improved faster than I expected. It moved from looking scrawny to lush and leafy. It’s been fruiting modestly however. I still need to bring more sun to it by pruning back a few more rain trees overhanging from the neighbour’s yard. Avocado also fruit better if the two types, A and B are planted together. So, the next step for me is to identify its type and plant the other type nearby, hopefully they can pollinate better and yield more avocados. I am looking forward to the following year. I know as long as they are looked after there is a good chance that they would do even better.