Answer: You don't want to fertilize going into the cold season. Fertilizer promotes new tender growth, which is susceptible to frost damage. Wait to fertilize until next spring, when new growth begins and the last chance of frost is over. It's hard to protect against all kinds of critters, but you may want to encircle the sapling with a tight wire mesh to prevent browsing, such as hardware cloth and then fill it with leaves to act as an insulator. Snow on top of that will also act as an excellent insulator. Good luck!
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