That is a tree guard made of 1/4″ hardware cloth. The idea is to stop little mice from dining on the tender bark of our sapling fruit trees. You can buy tree guard wraps made of spirals of plastic but I had read that moisture can build up between the plastic and the tree’s bark causing disease.
St. Lawrence Nurseries of Potsdam, NY recommends making the wraps out of metal wire mesh like the ones shown. We simply cut the mesh into sections that were 8″ by the width of the roll of wire (48″) and then rolled them on a piece of 2″ PVC pipe. This is most easily done by two people. I think if I were to set three small screws in the PVC I could easily turn it into a one person task. Add a hand crank, a cutter blade and you’ve got an instant tree guard manufacturing machine. But we only needed about 18 of the guards so I kept it simple. Most of the trees only need 24″ to 36″ of guard so we cut them to size as we protected each tree.
As you may notice, the bottom edge is buried in the dirt. This keeps the mice from tunneling under. We will be adding some window screening over it to protect from insects and to keep the trees from being rubbed against the edge of the wire at the top.
All of this also protects the trees from the attention of little piglets, chickens, ducks and mowers if we had the latter. To protect the apple and pear trees from larger animals the saplings are planted between two electric fences. Sheep in particular enjoy dining on the buds and bark. It is the ducks and chicken’s job to keep that area mowed. I’ll need to explain that to them next spring.
Each tree has a hollow around it so we can more easily saturate them when watering. This keeps the water from running off so it soaks into the soil around the trees roots. This is especially important the first year when they are getting established. My brother was just telling me the other day that of the dozen trees he planted from The National Arbor Day Foundation this spring he thinks that only five survived the summer. Failure to get their roots established is what he thinks did in his saplings.
We fill the depression around the base of the trees with a mulch of hay which will help protect the roots from frost heaving as well as keeping the soil cooler and moister in the summer. This also keeps down the growth of weeds (e.g., grass) around the trees so they have less competition. That is recommended in the books I’ve read although it seems odd to me that a little grass would affect these trees that much – they are already four to five feet tall.
With attention, time and a bit of luck we should have more apples than you can shake a stick at and more than we can possibly eat. Twenty-two full size apples plus six pear trees should can produce a lot of fruit, maybe around three or four tons a year. We plan to eat, store, press, sauce and dry. Extras beyond what we put up for ourselves will feed the animals – an excellent treat for the fall and winter when the variety of food gets rather limited.
An Apple a day keeps Windows at bay.
30째F/14째F, 1″ Snow, Partly Sunny