A gorgeous California February weekend demanded that I spend it outside in my backyard, working on the garden.
One major task was adding fertilizer to our avocado tree. Of all the trees on our property, this is the one that we are most excited about. By we I mean myself, Kris, my mom, my neighbor Kathy, my godmother, and all of our friends who know we have this tree. We’ve eaten its two previous fruits, and this year, we all want more.
Of course, there were plenty of weeds around it, and I didn’t want weeds sucking up my expensive organic fertilizer. Titania helped out in her usual fashion; while I went ripping away at the bermuda grass et al, she sun bathed in her favorite spot.
It took forever to get this picture because every time I came close, she’d look up and give me her big pit bull smile.
Smiling in the sun
Meanwhile, I worked on clearing space around the avocado tree in order to add fertilizer. I noticed that the bermuda grass and other weeds were coming out quite easily, then discovered that it was because of landscape fabric put down by the previous owners. In my zeal to get rid of the weeds, I’d ripped the fabric up. I had to fertilize the tree, not the dirt above the landscaping fabric. My hoe and gardening claw dug into the rich soil, full of earthworms and ants, creating a little circle around the tree.
Ooophs, ripped the fabric
Here’s the fertilizer I used, recommended by my local nursery.
E. B. Stone Organic Citrus Fertilizer
I staged it on top of the weeds I’d pulled, hoping that someone (besides me) would appreciate the irony. I know the nursery probably just recommended the most expensive one; we’ll see how it does. A lot of people have high hopes for this tree. Who wouldn’t? Look at these cute little buds; these are going to become flowers, and eventually…fruit.
Lots of Little Buds
I bought one 4 pound box, thinking I could use it for the many trees around our house (2 giant orange trees, an almond, a lemon, an apricot, a peach, and a cherry). Then, I read the directions which explained that for a 5 year old avocado or citrus tree (I had to guess the age), I’d need to apply 4 pounds every time I fertilized! The whole box for just one application! Then, on top of that, I’m supposed to fertilize 3 times a year. Is this normal?! I am just flabbergasted (love that word).
I ended up following directions because, well…because I’m a teacher and appreciate when my students follow mine. I mixed in the entire box, four pounds of fertilizer, around the tree. We’ll see how she does (although I’m not sure if it is a male or female avocado tree).
Then, of course, Titania comes over to sniff out what I’m doing. While my back is turned, mixing the powder into the soil, she grabs a quick lick of the fertilizer’s box. I freak out, hoping it won’t poison her, good thing it’s organic. When I look at the ingredients, I see that the first one is blood meal. Go figure she’d want to lick that.
I decided I need to protect the fertilizer, not just from the dog, but from weeds that want to leech off of the richness I just added to the ground. At this moment I wished I hadn’t ripped the landscape fabric so much. I didn’t have any mulch, but what I did have was a lot of cardboard.
From a recent IKEA purchase
I’d just cut it, lay it around the tree, and remove it when I needed to water. The size was perfect, and I didn’t even have to do my usual measuring by trail and error.
A resourceful substitute for mulch
Knowing that Titania would still be able to burrow her head under the cardboard, I found some bricks by the orange tree and moved them to use as weights. Perfect dog/weed barrier.
The perfect makeshift mulch
Naturally, the dog keeps sniffing out the area with a guilty look on her face. Hopefully my yelling and reprimanding plus the cardboard barrier will stand up to her pit bull stubbornness.