> Ivan wrote:
>> Hi all.
>> I recently bought a house and in the back yard I have a mandarin tree
>> and a lemon tree..
>> It seems as if though the previous owners were somewhat neglectful of
>> these though, and they are not in the best of shapes..
>> The mandarin trees has no leaves at all, and is full of the smallest
>> fruits you could imagine.. The lemon tree seems to have snapped during
>> its life, and it has a plank of wood holding it up.. Its leaves are
>> green, and it has a few lemons in it, though perhaps about three lemons
>> on the whole tree..
>> In Australia it is summer right now, and we're having dry heats coming
>> It looks like either tree has never been pruned.. When is the best time
>> to do this?
>> What should I feed them?
>> I'd love for these trees to prosper..
>> I can take some pictures and post them somewhere if it'll help you all
>> diagnose the problems of my new trees..
> Hi all..
> Thanks for your messages.
> Here's some updated information:
> The mandarin tree does have leaves -- only that they're brown/yellow
> and they are scarce.
> The fruit is very orange, however as I said before, it's very small..
> (about .5" in diameter), and has been that size since I've moved in
> three weeks ago.
Abundant but small fruit is apparently the last gasp of a dying citrus
tree. Citrus remains fresh on the tree for quite a long while, even on
a dying tree.
> The lemon tree, upon further inspection, looks like it has plenty of
> lemons that are growing.. Two or three are ready to be picked (they're
> yellow). The rest are small-ish and somewhat green still, but they look
> plump and healthy.
Oranges, mandarins, and most other citrus are seasonal, flowering at
specified seasons and ripening at other specified seasons. Not so with
lemons, which are everbearing. That means you may find flowers, tiny
green lemons, larger green lemons, and ripe lemons all at the same time.
> The broken bit of the lemon tree is its trunk.. Which is why it's being
> held up with a plank of wood.. It's unfortunate, really. I thought
> about tying it up with some wire and a post to hold it up against..
You really need an arborist to fix this tree. If it's split down the
trunk, the trunk may have to be drilled and then bolted together. If
the break is across the trunk, the tree may have to be cut, which would
be effective only if it's above the graft point; a break below the graft
point is generally hopeless. If the tree is cut, the time of year may
be very important in order to ensure new growth will occur. All this
requires a professional, who might also assess whether the mandarin can
When I mention an arborist, I do not mean a tree service. The former
can help save a tree that is in trouble. The latter specializes in
trimming and even removing trees.
> The trees are in my back yard, and they are surrounded by a rubber
> fence of about 6-7" high, and run aroudn the trunk of each tree. It has
> a diameter of about 3-4 foot..
The fences might be protection against animals that gnaw on the bark of
the trunks. I have seen smaller fences -- only about a foot high -- to
protect the trunks from lawn care equipment.
> I can't see the soil used, by the looks of things it is covered in hay,
> and on top of the hay there is chicken wire..
> Not sure why this is the case..
> I guess to stop the hay from flying around..
I use chicken wire to hold a leaf mulch in place around my camelias.
Otherwise, the Santa Anna winds would remove all mulch. (See my garden
Web site for a description of these winds, which are common under
various names in most Mediterranean climates, including possibly Australia.)
> I recylce water and use a lot of my washing water to water the grass..
> Will this also work for my fruit trees, or will the soap kill it?
Laundry "gray" water tends to be alkaline from the soap or detergents
used in washing. Grass might not be affected. However, citrus requires
an acidic soil. Thus, "gray" water will cause the leaves to yellow or
become chlorotic. Eventually, the trees will stop fruiting and decline
> Thanks to all for your assistance..
> I'll hopefully be having some plump mandarins before the summer ends..
If they are already orange, they will not get any larger.
David E. Ross
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