Friday Follies: Treegators & Stovetop Strawberry Dumplings

This stovetop strawberry dumpling is the perfect summer dessert. Admittedly, this is not the prettiest thing out there, but who cares how it looks when it tastes so incredible? It also takes about 20 minutes to make. I am a dedicated but extremely lazy cook, so anything with short prep and cook time means that I much, much likelier to actually make it.

Today I’m looking at a rather pedestrian topic — treegators. You’ve probably seen these green plastic… things…. at the base of trees in your neighborhood. They look a little bit like tree booties, and like the strawberry dumpling, they are not the most attractive item out there. But their function — slow irrigation over a period of hours — is critical for tree survival, especially for new plantings.

The treegators each hold about 20 gallons of water that gets released in to the ground around the tree for between five and nine hours. The slow drip irrigation allows water to penetrate deep in to the soil, nourishing the roots and helping to prevent shock from drought or transplanting.

Trees are thirstier than you may realize and need to be watered regularly. This is especially true during the summer; young trees can easily fail if they go too long without it (Washington DC tried to prevent this from happening this brutal summer by appealing to citizens for help.) While precise needs with vary depending on the species and the climate, four to five waterings per month (the idea is to imitate natural rainfall) of five to fifteen gallons of water each time is a good starting point. Remember not to just dump five gallons of water straight on to the tree trunk! Water needs to be released slowly over a period of hours. If you don’t have a tree gator, you can easily make do with this five-gallon bucket hack.

(Dumpling images: Gourmet, tree image: myrtle_avenue_brooklyn)

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