Ask a Question forum: Why my fruit trees aren't growing

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Name: InSearchOfParadise
San Jose, CA (Zone 8b)
Oct 21, 2017 8:11 AM CST
I have planted several bare root fruit trees in my yard (which is next to a freeway wall in San Jose, CA) about 2 years ago. Since then, not one of them have grown in height / thickness. The leaves are folded and hasn't given any fruits (looking at the condition I am not expecting either). My questions are:

1. Is the watering not sufficient? I currently water for 30 mins every day using a drip setup. The emitter I am using supposedly deliver 18 GPH. One of the tree that did grow well is away from the freeway wall and for the same emitter setup I see puddling every day. However no puddling near the trees that are next to freeway wall.

2. Is there nutrient deficiency?

3. Should I have dug bigger holes when I planted these bare root trees? I remember digging about 18" deep and 18" wide holes for each one of them. Is there anything I can do now to correct / improve?

Attached are few pictures of the plants. Appreciate your help.

Thumb of 2017-10-21/insearchofparadise/5abd30
Thumb of 2017-10-21/insearchofparadise/3458b0
Thumb of 2017-10-21/insearchofparadise/1ecfb4

Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
Oct 21, 2017 10:37 AM CST

No, your hole wasn't big enough but its too late to do anything about that. The soil against the wall is probably very compacted due to the building of the wall.

Trees, any trees, need to be deep watered. Instead of watering for 30 minutes daily, water once a week until you see puddling. When they are a little older, you could probably water every 10 days to 2 weeks.

Are you giving them any nutrients? Next spring, start on a regular fertilizer program.

Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

Name: Cindy
Hobart, IN zone 5
aka CindyMzone5
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
Oct 21, 2017 10:45 AM CST
I would wonder about the amount of heat reflecting off of all that concrete behind the trees as well. The second photo does look like it has newer branches on it. I would suggest pulling out all of the weeds around the base of the trees, watering well out to the tree drip line and using a mulch up to 1" thick but not touching the trunk of the tree to conserve moisture. I'd bring the mulch out at least 1 ft in all directions.
Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught will we realize that we can't eat money. Cree proverb
Name: kathy
Zone 4b, near St. Clair MI
Cottage Gardener Lilies Organic Gardener
Oct 21, 2017 10:56 AM CST
Questions that ran through my mind: what may be leaching off of the cement footings of the wall; or, how hot is it by the wall [reflected heat or direct heat]; or, how is drainage lower down in the soil; are they all the same variety? If not is one variety doing better? Or, other tree roots competing? Or, what kind of soil did the contractor truck in as a fill while building the wall [when no one is making them accountable - toxic soil can be snuck in.]
"Things won are done, joy's soul lies in the doing." Shakespeare
Name: Carol
Santa Ana, ca
Sunset zone 22, USDA zone 10 A.
Charter ATP Member Hummingbirder Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Orchids Region: California Plant Identifier
Oct 21, 2017 11:55 AM CST
I would agree with Kathy's questions, and also ask are those trees getting full sun, or is the wall shading them? I worked landscape for Caltrans for 20 years, and I can tell you the contractors dump all kinds of toxic stuff where they're building. As that is most likely part of their right of way, in the past they may have used some long term weed killer, so you have no recourse.

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