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Tree Update - July 31 2005

Ten Weeks

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Image: Sunset Over Crops - Central IL - Aug 2 2005, Click to Enlarge

I feel like I'm in a mortal struggle with Nature for the survival of my trees.  Save for one wet weekend and two brief showers, it has been dry since June 29.  Besides drought, Nature's forces include unrelenting heat, humidity and biting insects.  On my side there is only persistence and another 100 feet of garden hose.  Each tree is getting water more than once per week, but it takes all of my energy to do it.  The rest of the yard is being ignored and weeds have taken hold and are getting tall in places.  My neighbors have noticed this and two of them have dropped by to see if I'm OK.  Nice people.  Here in the countryside houses are 1/2- to one-mile apart, and still, people look out for each more than they would in the city.

The White Fir that was green on June 29 (at 6 weeks) is now half dry, and the other one is long gone.  Both are lost causes and I've stopped watering them.  The Douglas Fir beside them are doing so well its astounding....so....the White Fir will both be replaced with Douglas Fir.  The Black Hills Spruce don't seem to notice there's a drought.  I discovered another nest in a Spruce today, with chicks in it.  The Sugar Maple is still stressed, but it has put on a clump of new leaves.  I think it'll survive with continued water.  Both Oaks and the Red Maple are holding their own, and the Dawn Redwood has put on new leaves since June 29.  The big surprise in resiliance is the Pears.  They really respond to water and all of them have leafed out considerably since the last update.  The broken Crab Apple has been removed and the Japanese Beetles that were everywhere are now gone.  The River Birch, now free of the bug threat, are doing well.  The two Service Berry have lost lots of leaves but I think they're surviving; most of the remaining leaves are green.  I think, next to the Sugar Maple, the Service Berrys must be the most drought-susceptable of the new plantings.

I am now watering 33 trees, about 5 minutes each which is nearly 15 gallons per tree.  I am thankful for my good water supply.  I learned some things about it by researching at this USGS web site.  The surface elevation at my house is about 680 feet.  My well is 150 feet deep.  The sub-surface maps show a 10-to 25-foot thick layer - the Lower Glasford Basal Sand (sand & gravel) - below me at about that depth.  The lower glasford basal sand is present only as local pockets.  It was reportedly difficult to map accurately, but the excellent delivery rate, good water quality and depth of my well are consistent with this supply.  There did not appear to be any other candidate aquifers in the sub-surface data.  The lower glasford basal sands were deposited during the Illinois Episode of the Quaternary period, about 180-125 thousand years before present.  The Glasford Formation overlies deeper layers filling the Mahomet Bedrock Valley, which is thought to be a local drainage system carved during the early glaciations.  The sand and gravel aquifers of the Mahamet Bedrock Valley are important water supplies for communities and industries just North and East of my area.  Its possible that I could tap into an upland lobe of the Mahomet Aquifer by drilling 75 feet deeper, but there would be no way of knowing without trying it, and it would be expensive.