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Author Topic: To Mulch or Not to Mulch (Fruit Trees)  (Read 1954 times)

behlgarden

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Re: To Mulch or Not to Mulch (Fruit Trees)
« Reply #50 on: April 15, 2019, 05:24:42 PM »
I have a tractor mounted chipper and point the chute directly into my truck for easy transport. I've applied fresh chipped mulch from legume trees (Acacia) and applied 4 inches thick with no problem. If it is thicker like a pickup truck full it will heat up. Like the video I posted from Australia above says, however, some fresh chipped material can be harmful and they suggest letting it age. They also show a test which involves soaking the chips in water to see it they stain the water. I will say that aged mulch has significant benefits and gets better with age. I sift out old mulch which has been decomposed and get a fairly good potting mix.

Agreed. A good mulch has some fines and color is sort of faded to turning black. that is good stuff. I see some very fresh wood chips like it just came off the mill, that I would stay away from.

roblack

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Re: To Mulch or Not to Mulch (Fruit Trees)
« Reply #51 on: April 15, 2019, 08:57:32 PM »
My neighbor just told me that landscapers had heavily mulched her avocado tree (week or 2 ago?), and it quickly died. It was a large tree. The stump is at least 2 feet in diameter. Will try to get more info.

very fresh raw mulch can kill the tree when combined with water. The mulch gets hot, very hot if its fresh wood clippings as its trying to decompose, similar to how compost gets hot. that heat can literally kill plants and trees.

That makes sense. A few years ago, our yard went through a major transformation. We chopped down a bunch of trees (mostly hong kong orchid, 1 large avocado, etc.). The large piles of mulch/clippings smoked noticeably for a couple of days. Steady clouds emanating from the piles. A strange sight.

The landscapers eventually took all of the trimmings, and brought back aged mulch. They have a mini-mountain of mulch from all their jobs. The owner said old mulch was better, but don't recall him saying why. He also owns a private nursery (ornamentals and some fruit trees including rollinia) and seems to know plants well. Must know something is up with fresh mulch.   
« Last Edit: April 15, 2019, 09:01:19 PM by roblack »

Alejandro45

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Re: To Mulch or Not to Mulch (Fruit Trees)
« Reply #52 on: April 15, 2019, 11:34:06 PM »
My neighbor just told me that landscapers had heavily mulched her avocado tree (week or 2 ago?), and it quickly died. It was a large tree. The stump is at least 2 feet in diameter. Will try to get more info.

very fresh raw mulch can kill the tree when combined with water. The mulch gets hot, very hot if its fresh wood clippings as its trying to decompose, similar to how compost gets hot. that heat can literally kill plants and trees.

That makes sense. A few years ago, our yard went through a major transformation. We chopped down a bunch of trees (mostly hong kong orchid, 1 large avocado, etc.). The large piles of mulch/clippings smoked noticeably for a couple of days. Steady clouds emanating from the piles. A strange sight.

The landscapers eventually took all of the trimmings, and brought back aged mulch. They have a mini-mountain of mulch from all their jobs. The owner said old mulch was better, but don't recall him saying why. He also owns a private nursery (ornamentals and some fruit trees including rollinia) and seems to know plants well. Must know something is up with fresh mulch.   

One of my first fires was a mulch fire. I thought the guy had intended to burn it. Nope he just flicked a cigarette onto a steaming pile of mulch and it ignited and erased his eyebrows. I know fresh mulch heats up I know highly resinous mulch can be prone to spontaneous combustion. But that was a stars aligned moment for it flashover and produce such a explosive result.

Frog Valley Farm

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Re: To Mulch or Not to Mulch (Fruit Trees)
« Reply #53 on: April 16, 2019, 06:45:50 AM »
These are facts.


Hmm, should previous statements made by you also be considered in the same manner?

Most of our Mangos are pushing flowers even the Sugar Loaf. Though at 1ft tall it might be a bit too small. I was surprised with the efficacy of various drenches these young trees got and even though I could clearly see copper was sprayed at zills, the rhizosphere was soon colonized by arbuscular mychorizal fungi as shown in the photo.



I'm still researching Arbuscular mycorrhyzae, and no matter how much I read about them I find an absence of purported fruiting bodies. Or were you referring to something else in the photo?



I just have a hard time believing anyone who refers to anything scientific as 'facts' and goes around rubbing it in people's faces. Life's a lot of grey, I don't often appreciate the 'Black and White' outlook as much I guess.





Just trying to help people fix their sandy soil to grow tropical fruit trees in Florida without polluting.  I try to base my information I share on science.   Here is a link on your fungi you couldn’t find. (http://archive.bio.ed.ac.uk/jdeacon/microbes/mycorrh.htm#Top) Building soil is what most farmers try and accomplish. Adding compost or other organic carbon is not building soil but is important.  Building soil is changing the soil structure, it all happens at soil surface not under thick wood chips. The soil surface needs a wet and drying period for aggregates to form.  It starts with roots in the ground.  The best way to do it in Florida is with a biodiverse group of warm weather grasses and weeds left to grow tall and fed a high quality carbon source in small increments (compost).  Living plants are mulch.  This will give structure to Florida sand.  Sorry to offend you, that was never my intention but these are the facts if you want to improve your sandy Florida soil via mulch
« Last Edit: April 16, 2019, 07:02:03 AM by Frog Valley Farm »

spaugh

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Re: To Mulch or Not to Mulch (Fruit Trees)
« Reply #54 on: April 16, 2019, 12:03:35 PM »
Don't weeds compete with the roots of whatever you are trying to grow?  Weeds usually have strong root systems and are very vigorous.  It seems like they would hog all the available nutrients and root space.  Should we leave all weeds under our fruit trees and not mulch?
Brad Spaugh

Frog Valley Farm

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Re: To Mulch or Not to Mulch (Fruit Trees)
« Reply #55 on: April 16, 2019, 01:06:13 PM »
Don't weeds compete with the roots of whatever you are trying to grow?  Weeds usually have strong root systems and are very vigorous.  It seems like they would hog all the available nutrients and root space.  Should we leave all weeds under our fruit trees and not mulch?

I am just talking about Florida’s white sandy soil which in most yards is compacted sand or fill with a chemical hard pan due to poor management.  My experience in Jamul in San Diego county, lack of water and crushed granite for growing medium would be wood chips and ice plant but I would have to think on it.  I thought on it...I would probably use hay and alfalfa and for a non polluting fertilizer every ten days very small quantities of quality compost, Bokashi leachate (except on annonas and Garcinias) and indigenous microorganisms microbial sprays every week, as the wood chips might cause nutrient fixation. Also keeping a perennial warm weather living grass mulch would probably be unsustainable there. I haven’t had a problem with weeds, they usually only pop up in problem areas, but the good out weigh the bad.  It is all about biodiversity and getting carbon into the soil deep which weeds are good at doing.
« Last Edit: April 16, 2019, 01:25:34 PM by Frog Valley Farm »

Cookie Monster

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Re: To Mulch or Not to Mulch (Fruit Trees)
« Reply #56 on: April 16, 2019, 05:53:19 PM »
Here's what 12+ years of mulching looks like after it's fully decomposed. This layer is 6 - 10 inches deep across 1/3 acre. The earthworms do a great job of mixing the sand below with the decomposed mulch above.








Jeff  :-)

dingaling

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Re: To Mulch or Not to Mulch (Fruit Trees)
« Reply #57 on: April 16, 2019, 06:48:36 PM »
The only issue i have had with mulching is once you start its hard to stop. The tree roots grow up into the mulch and when the mulch is gone the roots are exposed. Black sapote trees that we have here suffered from this badly.

Cookie Monster

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Re: To Mulch or Not to Mulch (Fruit Trees)
« Reply #58 on: April 16, 2019, 07:09:53 PM »
The related issue is that the feeder roots start to favor the thin layer of decomposed mulch (which holds moisture) and when drought hits, the trees do poorly due to the shallow root system.

The only issue i have had with mulching is once you start its hard to stop. The tree roots grow up into the mulch and when the mulch is gone the roots are exposed. Black sapote trees that we have here suffered from this badly.
Jeff  :-)

SeaWalnut

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Re: To Mulch or Not to Mulch (Fruit Trees)
« Reply #59 on: April 16, 2019, 07:59:12 PM »
Mulch is good but has its downsides .It takes the nitrogen out of the soil to decompose .Because it lacks nitrogen ,it decomposes verry slow and thats the purpose of the mulch,to be slow to break down.If you want to compost wood chips or straws you need to add a nitrogen source like urine or else it shouldnt compost or get hot on its own.Another big danger its that it favours Mycorrhizae but it can also favour parasite fungi like Armillaria sp that have a wide range of hosts and if it infects a tree then its doomed- you can start growing mushrooms instead of fruit trees.

spaugh

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Re: To Mulch or Not to Mulch (Fruit Trees)
« Reply #60 on: April 16, 2019, 09:16:15 PM »
Dump truck loads of mulch with green leaf material will heat up on their own.
« Last Edit: April 16, 2019, 09:20:31 PM by spaugh »
Brad Spaugh

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Re: To Mulch or Not to Mulch (Fruit Trees)
« Reply #61 on: April 17, 2019, 10:20:14 AM »
Here's what 12+ years of mulching looks like after it's fully decomposed. This layer is 6 - 10 inches deep across 1/3 acre. The earthworms do a great job of mixing the sand below with the decomposed mulch above.









That there is a healthy layer of topsoil you've generated.  After two years of mulching I'm now starting to see this too.
- Marley

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Re: To Mulch or Not to Mulch (Fruit Trees)
« Reply #62 on: April 17, 2019, 10:41:52 AM »
Thanks. The soil is very healthy. Lots of earthworms and microbial activity. The counter-intuitive part was that my trees were all experiencing worsening nutrient deficiencies and the quality of fruit was steadily declining year after year as I continued to apply mulch. That's when I hired Har to consult, who guided me through the process of discovery that mulch alone is not sufficient for healthy plants. Took me a couple of years before I finally was able to believe it.

The awesome part is -- once I started laying down nutrition, tree health and fruit quality started to improve, and now my trees are healthier than ever. That soil is sort of like a giant reservoir. Once you fill it up, it holds nutrients very well. CEC is in the 20's.

A lot of people reference environments like the amazon rainforest as evidence as to why mulch alone is sufficient. However, few realize that the amazon rainforest actually gets its nutrition from the sky -- in the form of dust storms from ancient sea beds, which travel across the ocean. Unfortunately, Florida doesn't benefit from that :-).

Contrary to what I once believed, conventional fertilizers don't seem to have an impact on soil beneficials. I've been using conventional fertilizers for over 3 years, and worm activity has not declined as far as I can tell.

At any rate, the key is to come to grips with the notion that mulching alone is usually not sufficient, which for me was a tough pill to swallow. Over the short term, mulch doesn't have much of an effect. But after many years of mulching and the accumulation several inches of decomposed plant matter (where feeder roots begin to live exclusively in the decomposed mulch), the effects are easily observed. Also, a simple mulch ring around a tree will likely never have a significant impact on tree health nor fruit quality. It's only when you mulch over the entire yard, where one is substantially changing the soil composition, that the adverse affects are readily visible.

That there is a healthy layer of topsoil you've generated.  After two years of mulching I'm now starting to see this too.
Jeff  :-)

Triloba Tracker

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Re: To Mulch or Not to Mulch (Fruit Trees)
« Reply #63 on: April 17, 2019, 01:02:00 PM »
This thread is scaring me  :o

I have not come close to what cookie has done over all those years with that much mulch, and I'm not on sand, but now i'm nervous.

I have woodchips over several hundred square feet in which i have planted 27 or so fruit trees.
EDIT - probably about 4-6 inches of woodchips initially.

I actually sheet mulched with manure and other organics under the wood-chip (i.e. tree trimmings) mulch. This was 2 years ago. I have only sparingly, if at all, added more chips.

I fertilize around the drip line with organics (chicken manure, alfalfa meal).

I hope I will be ok long-term but now i wonder if I should just let nature take over...if I do nothing, it will be covered in weeds in probably 2 years....
« Last Edit: April 17, 2019, 01:06:34 PM by Triloba Tracker »

chad6159

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Re: To Mulch or Not to Mulch (Fruit Trees)
« Reply #64 on: April 17, 2019, 01:27:05 PM »
Every time I see a commercial fruit tree farm I have never seen mulch, besides whatever leaves the tree drops naturally. Makes you think there is a reason why they don't mulch.  ???


Triloba Tracker

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Re: To Mulch or Not to Mulch (Fruit Trees)
« Reply #65 on: April 17, 2019, 01:49:26 PM »
Every time I see a commercial fruit tree farm I have never seen mulch, besides whatever leaves the tree drops naturally. Makes you think there is a reason why they don't mulch.  ???

I had the same thought, but there could be many reasons, not least among them cost $$

poofystuff

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Re: To Mulch or Not to Mulch (Fruit Trees)
« Reply #66 on: April 17, 2019, 02:48:25 PM »
Every time I see a commercial fruit tree farm I have never seen mulch, besides whatever leaves the tree drops naturally. Makes you think there is a reason why they don't mulch.  ???

Cost

chad6159

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Re: To Mulch or Not to Mulch (Fruit Trees)
« Reply #67 on: April 17, 2019, 02:57:26 PM »
Every time I see a commercial fruit tree farm I have never seen mulch, besides whatever leaves the tree drops naturally. Makes you think there is a reason why they don't mulch.  ???

I had the same thought, but there could be many reasons, not least among them cost $$

Most people can get free mulch if you know what you are doing. For commercial size applications I have seen where people get it delivered by the dump truck load and just have to give the guys gas money. Most tree trimming businesses dump their chips/mulch at the dump, which costs money. So if they have a place to dump it for free they are usually happy to. So why wouldn’t commercial farms do this?
Also all of the u-pick fruit places I have been to, no mulch. Not on peaches, berry bushes, mulberries, anywhere.
Videos I have seen from people with mangrove groves, no mulch. Fruit and spice park in Florida, from the videos I have seen, no mulch. I did see where they put lemon grass and other plants next to trees though. I think I am going this route.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2019, 03:00:45 PM by chad6159 »

Triloba Tracker

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Re: To Mulch or Not to Mulch (Fruit Trees)
« Reply #68 on: April 17, 2019, 03:23:53 PM »
Sure - I got my chips for free.
Labor cost to spread it, perhaps. Most places prefer quick and easy roundup.
Not saying you’re not correct but just speculation on other factors.

pineislander

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Re: To Mulch or Not to Mulch (Fruit Trees)
« Reply #69 on: April 17, 2019, 09:44:43 PM »
The ideal mulch for Florida’s sandy soil is living roots, a combination of grasses, weeds and herbs kept above 6 inches.  Tall living mulch is a carbon drip system for what’s living in soil the soil life feeds and sustains the tree and provides the home for soil life like fungi and bacteria.  Most weeds that grow in Florida attract and are home to beneficial insects.  This perfect nutrient cycling system along with the cation exchange which will naturally bind nutrients and pollutants in a stable matter that will not easily leach into the environment.
Most members in cities don't have the option to let weeds grow over 6 inches, that is a code violation. Just like the Demeter certification system you chose restricts you from bringing in resources from off-farm, they can't grow weeds. No organic material source is higher in carbon than woody material, no weed, grass, or plant comes close.

There is no plant based carbon mulch that feeds the tree unless you are mixing synthetic fertilizers in it.  The synthetic fertilizers will mostly pollute your yard and leach into the environment and this will stop natural nutrient cycling.  Plant carbon feeds the soil biology.
Definitely not true. Any plant based mulch will recycle nutrients in the material back into the soil with no need for synthetic fertilizer. That is a natural process which happens in nature all the time. Mulch as it decomposes is a microcosm of life and is in fact an ecosystem of it's own with macro/microorganisms including bacteria, fungi, nematodes, protozoans, arthropods, insects, even snakes, lizards, toads, moles. The life itself which is in the mulch as it decomposes represents to a large extent the source of nutrients which will feed the tree. The life is cellular and contains all the components of life, the dead bodies of micro and macro life and their excrement. That is also what happens in natural forest systems we can observe any time.
Having a tall living mulch will trigger the cation exchange and build soil.  Cation exchange happens under tall grass at soil levels. Mulch or plant carbon added in small increments every other week are an excellent way to provide a perfect environment for trees to thrive.  A high quality compost is best for speeding this process.  I have found biodynamic manure compost tea sprays are great for building soil thru the cation exchange.
Well first you say only roots can supply fertility then just small amounts of mulch. What I see is that larger amounts of mulch combined with macro and micro life does generate compost in place. When it rains, the composting mulch washes down obviating the need to prepare and spray manure or compost teas. Eventually shade from well grown trees will reduce if not eliminate most plants/weeds unless they are adaptable to shade, and leaf fall and pruning will begin to accumulate mulch on their own as if in a forest so why not jump start the process?
On my plantings I use mulch but also plants adjacent and far between trees, a full ground cover relying on legumes and so I am working with both ideas, one doesn't mean you can't do both.

The cation exchange will not happen under a thick layer of woodchips as they need grass roots and fungi to bind the organic matter and nutrients into soil structures.  Eventually the carbon from thick mulch will get into the soil with the help of worms, rain and segregation but this is easily leached and will not build stable organic matter in soil. Living root system do a much better job at putting carbon and biology into the ground and for building soil thru the cation exchange.  These are facts.
Cation exchange can happen or be improved absent any living plants or roots at all. Cation exchange can be simply from clay fractions or organic matter such as compost. There is no reason to say that thicker mulch would prevent cation exchange fro happening, would not build stable organic matter, or let it leach out. Mulch builds organic matter no different from any other organic matter.
Fungi happen to love mulch it is their food. Macro and micro life of all types consume organic matter and mulch, even thick mulch will form soil structures and build organic matter in soil. Organic matter from mulch will not leach any differently from organic matter from plant roots. One benefit of plant roots is that they advance down into the soil and is why I do use plants even trees and bananas since they have the most aggressive roots. I even use root crops which I can make productive use of. As root crops get harvested some deeper soil mixing happens for free.

However, my main complaint with the ideas you put forth is the dogmatic approach. Likely what you are saying is a result of the constraints imposed by your certification which limits off-farm inputs. That constaraint is your choice but isn't necesarily the only or possibly even the best way. It is your way and you are certainly free to do as you please.

Using mulch if ordinary precautions are followed does no harm, it has always been known to be beneficial.
Using mulch, even thick mulch definitely does not mean having no support plants/weeds/trees along with the mulches. You can have it both ways. Mulch does not have to be thin to work, it can be thick as well and many have proven that. I see mulch as being an entire ecosystem which produces as much as it recycles and works as an edge against sun, heat and evaporation, and a way to prevent unwanted plants so that more productive plants can be utilized.

NickTheNZgrower

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Re: To Mulch or Not to Mulch (Fruit Trees)
« Reply #70 on: April 17, 2019, 10:42:50 PM »
Well put man. I've only seen significant benefits in the use of thick layers of woodchip mulch :) It's a long term investment that pays off if you're consistent.

Oolie

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Re: To Mulch or Not to Mulch (Fruit Trees)
« Reply #71 on: April 18, 2019, 12:04:09 AM »
One thing you missed PineIslander.






It's really good at upsetting the people at the HOA.

SeaWalnut

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Re: To Mulch or Not to Mulch (Fruit Trees)
« Reply #72 on: April 18, 2019, 01:09:53 AM »
I think that comercial farmers dont use mulch because they like to till the land and mow the weeds .In case you till the land i think that the mulch has to be replaced each year.I use thin straw mulch around my trees and underneath it ,its always wet.I replace it every ear thogh because it gets lost while digging the land.

palmcity

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Re: To Mulch or Not to Mulch (Fruit Trees)
« Reply #73 on: April 18, 2019, 01:40:04 PM »
Change is inevitable and all things on earth subject to change.

It is believed that most of the earth has been here since the beginning and very few items leave the earth and it's atmosphere.

This is a primarily enclosed system under various forces/pressures/temperatures.... Expect the eventual reuse of most materials regardless if today one considers it clean, unclean, nontoxic, toxic, etc. etc. etc. They are all relative terms. Also there is no stable soil as all is changing.

I loved the Keanu Reeves as Klaatu quote when destruction and elimination of earth & its inhabitants was near he told the people listening::: Paraphasing "Don't worry, Nothing (matter or energy) will be wasted, It will all be reused in the future."
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Day_the_Earth_Stood_Still_(2008_film)

Either way is ok...

johnb51

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Re: To Mulch or Not to Mulch (Fruit Trees)
« Reply #74 on: April 18, 2019, 02:10:47 PM »
With or without the human species.
John

 

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