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Sick Tree Treatment Update Newsletter




Trees succumb to insect pests and diseases because they are in stress and sick. Mother Nature then sends in the clean up crews. Insects and pathogens are just doing their job - trying to take out the unfit plants. Most plant sickness is environmental - too much water, not enough water, too much fertilizer, wrong kind of fertilizer, toxic chemical pesticides, compaction of soil, grade changes, ill-adapted plant varieties and/or over planting single plant species and creating monocultures, as was done with American elms in the Northwest and the red oak/live oak communities in certain parts of the South.
My plan is simple. Keep trees in a healthy condition so their immune systems can resist insect pests and diseases. The Sick Tree Treatment is the best way reverse the stress causing insect pest and disease problems as well. Here is how it works.
Step 1: Stop Using High Nitrogen Fertilizers and Toxic Chemical Pesticides
Toxic chemical pesticides kill beneficial nematodes, other helpful microbes and good insects. They also control the pest insects poorly. Synthetic fertilizers are unbalanced, harsh, high in salt, often contaminated and destructive to the chemistry, structure and the life in the soil. They also feed plants poorly.
Step 2: Remove Excess Soil from above the Root Ball
A very high percentage of trees are too deep in their containers and  have been planted too low. Many have had fill soil or eroded soil added on top of the roots and flares. Covering the root flare reduces oxygen availability and leads to circling and girdling roots. Soil, or even heavy mulch, on flares and trunks keeps the bark constantly moist and can lead to rot or girdling roots. Removing soil from the root flares of already planted trees should be done professionally with a tool called the Air Spade or Air Knife. Homeowners can do the work by hand with stiff brushes or gentle water and a shop vac if done very carefully. Vines and ground covers should also be kept off tree trunks.
Step 3: Aerate the Root Zone Heavily
Don’t rip, till or plow the soil. That destroys all the feeder roots. Punch holes (with turning forks, core aerators or agriculture devices such as the Air-Way) heavily throughout the root zone. Start between the drip line and the trunk and go far out beyond the drip line. 6-8” deep holes are ideal, but any depth is beneficial. Liquid aeration can be done by applying 3% hydrogen peroxide mixed 50/50 with water at about 1 gallon per 1000 sq. ft.
Step 4:  Apply Organic Amendments
Apply organic amendments to the root zone: compost, rock minerals and sugars. Rock minerals include lava sand, greensand (or Magic Sand), decomposed granite, Azomite, etc. Sugars function as microbe stimulators and help speed up the overall process. Whole ground cornmeal and dry molasses are my favorite choices in this category. Cornmeal works here because it converts to sugar quickly and stimulates beneficial microbes, especially trichoderma. Apply greensand at about 40-80 lbs. per 1,000 sq. ft., lava sand at about 80-120 lbs. per 1,000 sq. ft., whole ground cornmeal at about 20-30 lbs. per 1,000 sq. ft. and dry molasses at about 10-20 lbs. per 1,000 sq. ft. Cornmeal is a natural disease fighter and molasses is a carbohydrate source to feed the microbes in the soil. Apply a 1" layer of compost followed by a 2-3" layer of shredded native tree trimmings. However, do not pile the mulch up on the root flare or the trunk. Smaller amounts of these materials can be used where budget restrictions exist
Step 5:  Spray Trees and Soil
Spray the ground, trunks, limbs, twigs and foliage of trees with the entire Garrett Juice mixture. Do this monthly or more often if possible. For large-scale farms and ranches, a one-time spraying is beneficial if the budget doesn’t allow ongoing sprays. Adding garlic oil tea or cornmeal juice to the spray is also beneficial for disease control while the tree is in trouble. Cornmeal Juice is a natural fungal control that is made by soaking whole ground cornmeal in water at 1 cup per 5 gallons of water. Screen out the solids and spray without further dilution. Cornmeal Juice can be mixed with Garrett Juice or any other natural foliar feeding spray. It can also be used as a soil drench for the control of soil borne diseases. Dry granulated garlic can also be used on the soil in the root zone at about 1-2 lbs. per 1000 sq. ft. for additional disease control. Spray the ground, trunks, limbs, twigs and foliage of trees with the entire Garrett Juice mixture. Adding hydrogen peroxide to be 1% of the spray will help control serious disease pathogens and encourage clean new plant growth.
Step 6: Treat Wounded Woody Tissue
Treat nicks, abrasions or any other damage to woody tissue (bark areas) with Tree Trunk Goop. Here’s the formula. Mix equal amounts of diatomaceous earth, soft rock phosphate and compost together. Add enough water to make a thick slurry. Slather this wet mix onto the damaged area. Reapply if washed off by rain or irrigation. In the soil, the mix makes a good organic fertilizer. Fireplace ashes can be used if soft rock phosphate isn’t available.

P.S. During drought conditions, adding soil moisture is a critical component
To discuss this newsletter or any other topic, tune in each Sunday 8am - 11am central time to the Dirt Doctor Radio Show. The call-in phone number is 1-866-444-3478. Listen on the internet or click here to find a station in your area.

Please share this newsletter with everyone in your address book and all your friends on Facebook and Twitter to help me spread the word on organics.

Naturally yours,

Howard Garrett


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