Yet another setback in my plans to have a silkworm colony this summer. This is a picture of my mulberry sapling that we planted last spring.
If you look at the trees in the background, you'll notice that they all have leaves. My mulberry does not. I confirmed last night that other mulberries in our area not only have leaves but are also ripening fruit at the moment. So something is sorely amiss with my little tree. It appears to be alive, but I can't really be sure. It's not all dry and brittle, so I'm assuming it's not completely dead. Why didn't it leaf? A mystery.
Since we don't have a lot of room in our yard to just keep planting trees, I've decided that I'm going to dig up this sapling and plant an already established weeping mulberry tree (Morus alba 'chaparral').
(Great photo from www.quickmire.com/Garden/garden.html - not my tree!)
The weeping mulberries are non-fruiting, which is kind of a bummer since mulberries can be very tasty. However, the weeping mulberries, well, they "weep" and the branches hang down instead of growing up, which is really convenient when trying to harvest leaves for bugs. Regular fruiting mulberry trees can be 30 feet high or more, making it a chore to reach the high branches for leaves or fruit. We had two weeping mulberries at our old house and it was very easy for me to get plenty of leaves for even my biggest colony of B. mori because the M. alba can get really bushy and still stay short. Another bonus is that the M. alba leaves (also known as white mulberry) are supposed to produce the highest quality silk.
Since I'm not sure if my little mulberry is dead, and I feel bad just throwing it away, I've arranged for a new home for it. A kind soul in the Barony with lots of land has agreed to take it and see if he can save it. He said he's always wanted a fruiting mulberry. I hope it grows for him.
Good thing I'm better at raising bugs than I am at growing trees.