Answer: Don't fertilize until next spring just as new growth begins. You don't want to promote new growth now which is susceptible to frost damage. You might want to apply a layer of mulch around the root zone--not up against the trunk where it can promote a wet environment for disease/insects. Mulch maintains soil moisture, and protects from cold temps. Here's some info on effective watering techniques. Incorrect watering is one of the biggest factors in plant problems.
As a tree grows, its new roots tips, where nutrients are being absorbed, spread out laterally. If you are watering only at the base of the tree, it's not really being watered effectively. Expand your watering zone out PAST the tree's canopy. As the tree grows, continue expanding that water zone. If you have an irrigation system, you need to move the emitters out. If you use a hose, just drag it out further. In any case, water slowly and deeply to ensure water penetration and to leach salts below the root zone.
Roots also need oxygen to survive and soil that is continually wet doesn?t provide it. Use a soil probe (any long, pointed piece of metal or wood to poke into the soil) to check how far water has penetrated. The probe moves easily through moist soil, but stops when it hits hard dry soil. For trees, water should reach about 2-3 feet deep. There are numerous variables involved for watering schedules, such as type of soil, how fast or slow it drains, sun and wind exposure at your site, temperature, age and condition of the plants and much more. It?s important to learn the specific needs of your plants. Good luck!
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