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Sunday, June 19, 2016

Poor Growth on Meyer Lemon

Q. I wrote you about my Meyer lemon tree back in early spring.  I water 3 times a week plus give extra water during extreme heat.  It doesn't seem to be growing at all.  In the spring there were some flowers.  I put fertilizer and composted new dirt.  Any thoughts.  Your help is appreciated.

A. I looked at your pictures and I think I get it. You have a bubbler, probably 1 gallon per minute. So you flood the area where the lemon tree is. I could not figure out what mulch is on the soil surface. It looks like colorized wood chips. It was hard to tell the condition of your soil. It certainly is not performing very well. So here goes.

From the sound of it, it sounds like you're giving it plenty of water. When you have bubblers it's best to construct the basin around the tree. Those types of bubblers release water so fast it can go everywhere and not penetrate the soil very well.

Secondly, from the look of other plants in the picture I don't think the organic matter content of the soil is high enough. So this is what I would do. I would buy some decent compost and start adding it to these areas. I do some consulting for Viragrow in North Las Vegas. They have the best compost in Las Vegas in my opinion. I would buy four or five bags of their compost. They are one cubic foot bag's and they will cost you about $2.50 a bag. I would apply the compost to the soil around fruit trees and gently start mixing it into the soil surface. Then construct some basins around the trees to collect the water from the bubblers.
Put compost around the tree but not touching the trunk
Next, I would cover the soil around the fruit trees with 3 to 4 inches of wood chips. You can get the wood chips free from the University Orchard in North Las Vegas. It is located 100 yards east of the intersection of North Decatur and Horse Drive. You can get it any Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday morning for free. The compost should improve the soil if you lightly scratch it into the soil surface. If this were the winter time you could scratch it in deeper but during this heat I would be a bit careful.

Wood chip mulch at the base of fruit trees
I think the problem is a lack of soil aeration because the organic matter content is too low. You will add organic matter to the soil by incorporating compost and covering the soil with organic wood mulch. You will not see an improvement over night. But you should see a flush of new growth after you do all of this in two or three weeks. Let me know how it goes.

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