Wandering in the garden this morning, I took a picture of this healthy bush, a Nanking Cherry I planted in the spring.
I planted it in a mound under which I had buried a 50 lb. sack of horse food, creating a kind of a hügelkultur/ posthole compost hybrid planting technique, not premeditated, but because I found a bag of horse food on the highway. In any case, though there have been several frosty mornings and we’ve had our first snow, this cherry bush has yet to yellow or drop its leaves.
In contrast, here is a picture of a Nanking Cherry planted on the very same day, from the same nursery order, perhaps 15 yards away, with similar exposure:
Only a few leaves left on this one, although up until just a few weeks ago, it was seemingly as vigorous and green as its litter mate. Individual variation? Sun and soil factors? Without a control, the scientist in my won’t let me believe that the horse food is the critical variable, but the empiricist tells me it probably is. Among gardeners, alfalfa tea is purported to stimulate plant growth, and is often applied as a foliar feed. Alfalfa (and beeswax, I discovered) contains 1-Triacontanol, which can act as a powerful plant growth stimulant.
There’s a point in the life of a plant, post transplant shock, often several weeks or months later when a plant “finds its roots.” It presents as vigorous – greens seem suddenly more green, new leaves and shoots are strong, and the plant just looks happy. Based on the fact that the horse-food-planted cherry has maintained this look for months, I plan to experiment with using alfalfa tea on other plants in the spring.