DSC_2681. smallerIt’s a sad spring as my tree form Japanese Maple is dying. I noticed the first branches dying last fall and while I was beginning to get concerned I decided to wait and see what happened this spring. Of the 3 most prevalent root borne diseases to affect Japanese maples I think mine has verticillium wilt. The experts say nothing can be done. We’ll see…

In retrospect I think this tree has always battled some sort of disease. It was well established when I moved into the home 14 years ago and didn’t take too well to being transplanted twice over the years. Both times I would amend the holes with good organic composts and fertilizers and paid special attention to it. Once I started brewing my compost teas I would be sure to give it a good soil drench. But alas, this may be the end.

So, what the heck, let’s give it our “Stressed Tree Service” and see if we can get a positive response. I haven’t tired it before now because I like to personally observe plant problems and what better way than in my own landscape? Thank goodness my wife puts up with me and some of the “experiments” I have in progress. 🙂

This program you can do yourself if you have a few tools and the right organic ingredients. I’ll list out the steps if you decide to try it for yourself…

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Here we see the classic symptoms of a root borne disease. The leaves have not been able to form and the tree is trying to produce seed pods as a natural response to survival. This is pretty typical in the plant kingdom — when I plant feels it is loosing its ability to survive it will produce seeds so that a new generation can take over…

photo of client yardThe first step is to core drill holes into the ground to allow us to get our fungal fighters and fertilizers down deep. Here we are using a roto-hammer with a 1″ drill bit.

For years we thought deep root feeding was done successfully with the long deep root spikes that allowed nutrients to be injected below the soil surface without core drilling. But current thought says this may actually be more detrimental than beneficial because it ruins soil structure and blows the fine root hairs of the plants. Pressures with deep root feeders can easily exceed 125 PSI which causes damage and kills any biology we are trying to introduce. So we are using core drilling exclusively.

photo of client yardNext we mix up a batch of Actinovate which is the bacteria, Streptomyces lydicus WYEC 108. Verticillum wilt is listed on the label as a fungal disease Actinovate will affect. We also add the the mixture some humic acids and sea kelp for their regenerative properties and ability to help the plant during stressful conditions. Additionally, we add mycorrhizal fungi which helps grow a beneficial fungi that forms a symbiotic relationship with the plant.

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Slowly pour the mixture over the surface surrounding the tree allowing time for the solution to be absorbed into the cored holes.

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We like to add in a little Azomite, a complete mineral product just in case we are missing some of the minor nutrients. The product can be found on the internet and additional information can be found at www.azomite.com.

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New to our program this year is Biochar. Biochar is an amazing product with many applications. Our use of Biochar is to help build fungal growth and hold nutrients in the root zone until the plants are ready to use them. It also holds more water and becomes housing for beneficial soil microbes.

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Of course, we would never be complete without adding some nutrient rich and biologically active compost. Here we are actually using worm castings which is even more nutrient rich than compost and has a few worms to boot. (Can you see Bob the Worm on top of the pile?)

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And finally, we need to rake all the good stuff into the holes and create a good mulch layer on top.

Please note: If you are on municipal water, do not trench the soil with water directly out of the tap as it has chlorine and will kill and damage the biology we are trying to establish. That also goes for when you are mixing your Actinovate… Use dechlorinated water or dechlorinate the water before use by rapidly aerating the water for 1 or letting it sit open to the air for 24 hours.

That concludes this phase of another experiment in my backyard. Hopefully my wife can tolerate a half-leafed tree for some time as we await the results. I’ll post later about what is happening. Happy gardening!