Term 3 2012 – Room 9 and their mandarin tree

In the last hour of the last day of Term 3, a wonderfully enthusiastic Room 9 and their teachers Kirsten and Bronwyn braved the not very nice weather to come and learn a bit about why the class mandarin tree is not growing very much.

This tree is probably in the most vulnerable position of all of our fruit trees – right next to the concrete playground where all the ball games happen – we have it surrounded by posts with protective nets but it really needed to be redone so we took off the old nets first so we could have a good look at the tree.

The first thing we saw was that lots of little brown dots were on the underside of the leaves – this is scale, a sap sucking insect that will suck the life out of your tree if not taken off. Since the tree is only small it was easy to scrape the scale off with a fingernail. We then washed the leaves with soapy water to help clean them and also it helps to repell other nasty insects. If the scale was really bad and on a bigger tree we would have to spray it with something like Neem oil to soften and remove the scale.

We then clipped off some little branches that were very low to the ground. No point growing fruit so low down as they would touch the floor and just rot. We also weeded all the grass away from the base of the tree. Then to give the tree a boost we fed it some fish fertiliser – a very stinky concoction that plants love. Then we spread some compost around the base of the tree, covered it with plenty of mulch to keep the grass away and to keep moisture in the soil.

Lastly we put new stakes and nets around the tree to protect it from footballs. After the holidays we will check and see if the star treatment has helped the mandarin tree to grow some new leaves.

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