Soil & Beyond
With spring just around the corner in Southern, Idaho you may be starting to think about all the wonderful things you want to do this year in order to enhance your landscape. When we think of enhancing our landscapes we often times tend to focus on the things above ground and not what’s going on below at ground level. It’s human nature to focus on that which we can see in the present moment. But what often times separates good from great is those who have the ability to see that which can not be seen with just the naked eye. The best kept secret is todays topic “Soil and Beyond”, you may not be able to see it but there is a whole other world going on down there so let’s go ahead and jump right in.
Mulching/Ground cover: If you have existing trees in the Meridian, Boise, Eagle, Nampa and Caldwell area or your thinking about planting new trees that have zero ground cover around them whether it be rocks or bark then you have the opportunity to do what your trees have been begging you to do since their inception, but, your plants can’t speak so how were you to know right? Before introducing wood chips or any other organic material to your landscape you must understand a few key elements. Keep in mind as well their is such a thing as live beneficial ground cover but we will be discussing that topic at another time.
- DO NOT TILL THEM IN- The whole idea is to layer the organic material. By tilling the wood chips/organic matter directly into the soil you bind up all the nitrogen in the soil which makes it hard for the organic matter to break down in a fashion that benefits you.
- Mix it up-Typically the material you want to use for ground cover consists of what comes out the back of a tree service chip truck. And from that truck you want to make sure the material you are receiving was not only alive (for the most part) but that also has a good amount of leaves (carbon) in it as well. If you grab a handful of this material you’ll notice it consists of miniscule organic matter and larger more woodier material (you do not want the same consistency of bark, again, it will take too long to break down). The smaller material will break down quickly and it’s nutrient will be available for uptake almost immediately. The larger material will break down slowly, releasing nutrients slowly as well as play a huge role in water retention (up to 75%).
- If you bring it they will come-Microbes are everywhere, but they aren’t always present in large enough numbers to do anything truly beneficial for your trees and shrubs, that’s where the wood chips come in. By bringing in organic material and layering it (2-3in) within the rhizosphere of your trees or in your garden beds you basically told all your local microbial buddies that your throwing a huge party and all the booze and food is completely on you. Hell ya right?! In no time beneficial bacteria and beneficial fungus will show up to eat and break down the organic material, in turn the presence of the bacteria and fungi attract other larger microbes like nematodes and protozoa (depending on the ph) which feed upon the bacteria and fungi. In this process there is always excess waste in the form of microbial poop/fertilizer. Before you know it you are literally creating compost tea every time it rains or you water. With patients and a little TLC mother nature can beat man made beneficial chemicals any day of the week. It’s also worth mentioning that the plant is always in control, it takes up what nutrients it needs, when it needs it and it does this by root exudates which we will cover in our next blog. I really appreciate you all stopping by, and as always, thanks for tuning in and will see ya around. to find out more about our services click here