Today I moved most of the young trees out of winter storage in the garage, removed their leaf mulch, and transferred them to the big greenhouse (right edge of photo). It looks like many of them made it through their first winter in the garage, so repotting season is about to begin!
I set up the large (collapsible) greenhouse around most of the trees in the growing bed in the hopes of protecting the crab apples from cedar-apple rust. I’ll also be treating with a liquid copper spray as they begin to leaf out. The greenhouse is also serving as protection against squirrels, which seem determined to chew on every trunk and snap off every twig they can reach. They rampaged through the tree bed in fall before I managed to rig anything up to keep them out, so just about all the trees, but especially the Amur maples, got an unscheduled pruning.
It turns out that I didn’t do an adequate job of sheet mulching when I was setting up the tree bed last year, so I spent the last growing season chopping and dropping the tons of weeds that sprang up. I’ve decided to grow food between the trees this year, so I sheet mulched the entire bed around the trees again a few weeks ago – properly this time. I used a thick layer of cardboard, with an inch-thick layer of paper shopping bags in the gaps between cardboard pieces. I then covered the area around the trees with partially decayed leaves, some soil, and a thick wood chip mulch. Since this raised the soil level considerably, I also lifted each tree, partly filled each planting hole with leaves, and replaced the trees. So far, all of the root bags are holding up well, and only one tree, the biggest crab apple, had busted through its root bag. I pruned back the thick roots coming through the crab’s root bag before returning it to its spot in the bed.