Sunday, June 26, 2011

More drama about the trees

Okay, I've now cut down most of two trees and a large bush. To finish cutting down the two trees I either need a chain saw or an axe. I have access to a chain saw, but I'm afraid to use it, and I do not have the clothing made to protect myself from accidentally sawing through an arm or a leg, and I'm not sure that there is proper safety equipment for protecting fingers. So I think that the chain saw is out, and I should acquire a big axe. Or, at least, a normal sized axe, as opposed to the current small axe with the twelve inch handle.

I'm getting warnings that I should not be much safer with an axe, but I would feel safer. My plan is to first try to borrow one, but if that doesn't work by next week I will probably end up buying one.

But I'm not really that worried about those trees now. Most of the current hassles are about the little fruit trees I bought on eBay.

As I have mentioned earlier, I saw a five-in-one pear on eBay. After I won that bid, I also bought two Stella cherries and a five-in-one apple from the same seller, to make good use of the combined shipping discount. So I ended up spending about thirty-five dollars on the plants themselves, plus shipping, which then came to about fifty-two dollars.

The trees were all supposed to be dormant. They weren't. The cherries were dormant. The cherries were thin little twigs that arrived dormant and have now grown into healthy little plants. I think that they are to small to be of much help to me, and after next winter they may decide that Texas is not to their liking and not bloom and never have fruit. If they do fruit it will be years and years from now, as they are just too small, and not a season or two away from having fruit as in the plant description. But I really have no serious complaints about the cherries. For an extra five bucks and two dollar shipping, I thought that it was worth trying.

The other two trees were different. It's odd to get such different quality stuff from the same seller. Again, the trees were smaller than I expected. Not really smaller than described, but the smaller than I had pictures in my head from buying bare root trees in local stores. They were just thinner than I had imagined, and I wonder how you can have a healthy graft on something as small as the pear. The pear had leaves all up and down the plant, in about twelve places. It didn't look like I'd expected a five-in-one pear to look like. I wondered if I got a single variety pear by mistake. And plants that already have leaves usually don't like being sent in the mail, and they especially don't like it in May or June in Texas, it's just too hot. So the plant looked quite limp and sick. The apple looked a bit better, but it only had three sets of leaves at the top. Again, not the dormant plant described, and not what I expected a five-in-one apple tree to look like. And while the roots of the cherries were still moist, the apple and pear were maybe just a bit damp.

I gave all the plants water, and having almost no planting instructions (other than to plant with the burlap on), I kept the trees inside for three days, thinking that water and air-conditioning would help the plants recover, as I'd been instructed to do that with some other plants I'd bought from someone else.

In three days the cherries were starting to grow, and you could tell that they were in fact dormant trees instead of dead sticks. The apple looked about the same. The pear had lost leaves and the remaining leaves were turning black.

I suspected that in it's weakened condition the pear had caught fire blight. I wasn't sure if there was anything wrong with the apple, just that it wasn't thriving like the cherries. I put all four trees outside in part shade. I worried that it might be too hot for them, but I knew that other plants I've kept inside for more than three days suffer.

The cherries immediately improved and started to grow leaves. The pear turned even more black. The apple did not appear to change at all.

I gave up after a few days of this and complained to the seller. The seller said this was all normal, and that the leaves would grow back.

Another week went by, and the pear was totally leafless and black. The apple was starting to dry out. Again I sent a message to the seller, who again said this was normal and that the leaves would be replaced. If I would do a scratch test I'd be able to see that the plants were still alive.

Okay, the plants were still a bit green on the inside. But I still think that they are dying, and that if they don't actually die at least parts of the plants I wanted are probably dead. The rootstock might still be alive, it might grow more leaves at some point, but the leaves weren't going to grow back where they had been. The grafted parts were probably dead, and I'd never get five kinds of pears or five kinds of apples.

I sent another message to the seller, asking that I not be required to mail back dead plants for my refund. Proof of death could be provided with photographs. I just wanted my money back, and if I got it that day or the next day I'd still leave positive feedback. I thought if I worded it just right, that I'd get my money (except for the cherries, which were still small but healthy), and that would be the end of it. Otherwise I'd file a complaint.

Instead I got an offer of new plants. According to the seller, the new plants had been kept in a cooler and were just starting to have buds. And I would get them soon, possibly Tuesday.


I did not get the plants Tuesday, and I did not get the plants Wednesday, but they did arrive Thursday. And they came in a big tube, and I imagined that they had sent me bigger plants to make up for the hassle.

The apple was about the same as the first one, only this one has four sets of leaves. Leaves. Not dormant, not just budding out, leaves.

The pear was just budding out, and it was a bit larger than the first pear, but it already had blight, right there in the tube. At least, I think it is fire blight, cause it's a pear. My husband thinks that it is freezer-burn, cause it's been in a cooler. Whatever it is, it's making the leaves black and curled up.

I sent the seller another message, and again the seller says this is normal. Trees just look like that when they start to bud out.

Well, that has not been my experience before. My experience is that if it looks like blight then it's probably blight.

Anyway, on my eBay account I noticed something about the deadline for dispute resolution being on the twenty-seventh. There's no way that I'd have healthy plants by then. I've thinking that I should complain, just to get an extension. So I started doing that, though I'm supposed to be checking little boxes, and the little boxes don't really fit my situation. I finally settle for "item not as described" as I think that is the main problem, that the seller didn't originally send dormant plants, and now it is just too late and too hot to have healthy plants sent in the mail. And I would never have started this whole thing if the ad wasn't for dormant plants.

Then there are more boxes, and a place to describe the problem in more detail, and at the end you are asked if you want a full refund, if you want a replacement item, or other. I check other, and write that I want a refund if the plants die.

To be on the safe side I send two complaints, one for the pear and one for the apple. And eBay says someone will contact me by July 2. And I figure that will be good, because that will give me another week to see if the plants are going to die, and then I can say for sure that I want a refund, or maybe they really will get better and I'll just keep them.

Except I guess that at least part of this process is automatic, and the seller says I can have a refund if I send the plants back by the June 28. Only now I have to send back four plants instead of two. And while I just found it annoying and an unnecessary expense to ship back dead plants, sending back live plants is a problem for me. This will probably kill the plants. I don't really like to kill plants.

On the other hand, if I pack them well enough and they don't die, I'm now thinking they'll probably be sold to someone else.

This sucks that I'm supposed to do this by the 28th. I was thinking that I'd complain and get an extension. From the 27th to the 28th isn't much of an extension.

But most of the time I think that mailing the plants back and getting some of my money would be better than keeping these two plants, as I can't imagine that either one would actually grow into five-in-one fruit trees, and one of them has fire blight or something that looks like fire blight.

I just feel bad.


silly rabbit said...

I feel sorry for the trees and I can see why you are so frustrated with this process!
Do you have an Extension Office? Up here we have those and they often will help with things like this. They have master gardeners who are happy to help free of charge.
They are a really great group who advise on all sorts of plant and food issues... when to plant, what grows best in your area, how to address diseases and pests, how to can the food you grow, etc. They may even have a web site in your area.

dmarks said...

We have the Ag Extension office too. From the name and what you hear it sounds like they help big farmers, but they help homeowners with just one orchard tree also.