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ThunderSRQ

Mulch nutritional value

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Ken Johnson

Somehow I knew that getting Matty and I in this post would lead to poop talk. Sorry everyone but Matty has a potty mouth and he puts everything in it. Even mulch I'm sure.

BTW matty did you see and roots growing up yet? Can you get some pix if you do look so I don't have to do too many drawings?

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MattyB

I've never seen any roots growing up. You're gonna have to draw it Dr. Seuss.

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Tyrone

Palm roots do grow up near the surface. What's the big revelation there?????? They are surface feeders generally, that's where the nutrient is in a rainforest, at the mulch layer, and the palms know it, so they will grow some roots up into the mulch layer. I don't know about insects eating them, and I don't know what insects you're talking about, but if you think insects just appear on the surface well, just dig into the ground and have a look. Soil isn't going to deter insects that eat roots!!!!!!! They'll burrow right in if they want your roots.

Take a look at a typical rainforest. Below about 2 or 3 ft the nutrients in the soil are very poor. Where is the nutrient?????? In the leaf fall. Where are the palm roots????? In the leaf fall

I can't believe people think mulch is a bad thing! I am dumb founded. Just putting synthetics onto crappy soil is going to cause massive soil degradation. Palm farmers may not use mulch because in a few years they'll have sold the property and will have retired, so someone else can deal with the ruined soil, and it's much easier to chuck a ton of fert on the palms on bare soil. Yes you will get dramatic growth, and that's what you want to return a profit after a few years. Who wants a slow growing palm when it can be fast and sell for twice as much in a few years. But at the end of the day, mulching is a long sighted approach which takes care of the soil and the palms.

Best regards

Tyrone

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Ken Johnson

I wish a farmer could do it that easy Tyrone. Most farmers here are in thier third and forth generation and have been growing in and fetilizing the same soil for over 110 years.

Most hobbiest want thier palms to grow as fast as possible. Right Bill? So scientific studies have been done to help them. The studies have shown that microbs in the mulch use most of the very few nutrients available and that the palm gets almost none. In poor soils mulch does almost nothing for the NUTRITIONAL value of the soil. Yes in very poor rainforest soils the 100's of years old palms grow and grow eaking out an existance from the leaf litter. Do you thik Bill has that long to wait? (sorry Bill your an easy guy to use as an example)

If you have great soil and lots of rain and warm temps mulch will not even be an option. See any in Hawaii? Fiji? Bo do you use mulch? Marcus? If you have poor soil and not much rain and cool temps do you use mulch solely for nutrition and water managment? I say no. You must also use synthetic fertilizers especially if you are trying to grow Dypsis. (Bill :))

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BS Man about Palms

I'm just the lazy SOB here, don't bring me into this.. :blink::rolleyes::lol:

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Tyrone

I wish a farmer could do it that easy Tyrone. Most farmers here are in thier third and forth generation and have been growing in and fetilizing the same soil for over 110 years.

Most hobbiest want thier palms to grow as fast as possible. Right Bill? So scientific studies have been done to help them. The studies have shown that microbs in the mulch use most of the very few nutrients available and that the palm gets almost none. In poor soils mulch does almost nothing for the NUTRITIONAL value of the soil. Yes in very poor rainforest soils the 100's of years old palms grow and grow eaking out an existance from the leaf litter. Do you thik Bill has that long to wait? (sorry Bill your an easy guy to use as an example)

If you have great soil and lots of rain and warm temps mulch will not even be an option. See any in Hawaii? Fiji? Bo do you use mulch? Marcus? If you have poor soil and not much rain and cool temps do you use mulch solely for nutrition and water managment? I say no. You must also use synthetic fertilizers especially if you are trying to grow Dypsis. (Bill :))

Ken, I don't want you to think I'm being disrespectful to yourself or others who share your view. I just can't get my head around the "Mulch is BAD" message coming through.

Soil science is a complex thing and we have maybe run along different paths in this thread and it's getting confusing, so let's go back to a few basics.

Plants don't need soil to grow. Hydroponics proved that beyond a doubt (You won't see mulch there will you. :lol: ) You don't need organic material to grow plants either - again hydroponics proved that too. All you need is to support the plant and provide nutrients, water and a gas exchange with the right spectrum and intensity of light.

However soil in your garden is often nothing like the dead substrate used in hydroponics. It has some level of structure. Structure is defined as the mix of sand, silt, clay and organic matter in the sample. The most broken down stable form of organic matter is humus, which can last for hundreds of years. Humus has long ago gone through it's nitrogen drawdown days when it was merely a mulchy compost. Only clays and humus and to a small degree silts add structure to a soil. Sand is structureless and no different to a hydroponic medium. Sand is not really soil.

Only humus and clay have what is called a Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC). That is, they have the ability to trap cations- positively charged nutrients (such as Ammonia or Potassium) and then release them to a plant root. Anions -negatively charged particles such as nitrates are not trapped by anything. A structureless medium such as sand has no CEC because it has no clay or humus. What does this mean? It means that any nutrient applied to it will quickly leach away if a plant root doesn't directly intercept it. To grow anything in a structureless medium, you must constantly fertilise every time you irrigate for optimum results just like hydroponics. Most of the applied fertiliser will miss the plant and drain away to the water table and to who knows where (that's another subject).

A mulch to the surface will over time, break down and provide a level of organics and humus build up. Worms and other micro organisms will take it down further. This will increase the CEC of your soil in every case. It is improving the STRUCTURE of the soil, it's ability to trap nutrients.

Now going back to the original question at the beginning of this thread. The question that was raised was which mulch is best? That may have been interpreted to mean "What mulch will provide the biggest nutrient load in an effort to never use synthetics?" It was quickly agreed that a mulch will not provide all the nutrients necessary for optimum palm growth. I totally agree with that. I use mulch to improve soil structure as I'm on sand. Moisture isn't a problem as I have as much water as I want here. I do use synthetics for there bang. On my sand, if it was nothing but sand with no humus, I would lose everything to the water table. The mulch that I started applying ten years ago has turned my soil into a sandy loam which is the ideal soil actually. What ever nutrient I apply synthetically will hopefully be trapped in the humus ready for a palm root to intercept later, when it's ready. I'm not of the opinion that I could ever stop using synthetics.

Now to this idea raised that mulch is detrimental to a soil. There are two times I can think of where this would be true. One was mentioned. Uncomposted tree waste is going to cause nitrogen drawdown. That's a given. If you dumped a truckload of fresh saw dust onto your lush green palm garden, you could watch it yellow by the next day I reckon. The other is if you are on water repellant sand. I've seen many times that people have had crappy sand which won't wet, and they've shoved a 4 inch layer of mulch over the garden and wonder why everything dies even during the winter rains. Firstly they haven't dealt with the water repellancy problem, and secondly the irrigation is not sufficient to even wet through the mulch. Drippers under the mulch would have been better. Other than that I can't think of any other negatives.

Much emphasis has been put on bacteria using nutrients to break the mulch down, but composted mulch overcomes this. Bacteria only use nitrogen for this. This is a macroelement required, but only ONE of the many nutrients needed. They don't chew all of them up. Just think of two scenarios and how much nitrogen has become unavailable to a plant such as a palm. The first is a garden with a structureless sand and no mulch, the second is a sandy based garden with mulch and already has some humus in the soil (therefore it has some structure and some CEC ) Both use synthetics at the same amount. The first garden loses most of the nutrient to the water table, the second also loses some to the water table, but some is caught by the humus and a small amount is used by bacteria to break the mulch down. Remember structureless soils hold zero nutrients. Once they're in solution in the irrigation they keep going into the water table. What has been the biggest problem to available Nitrogen, nitrogen drawdown from the mulch or leaching? The leaching.

What hasn't been mentioned is other bacteria which actually trap nitrogen from the air. These will only exist in an organic rich soil with humus (Many need iron to do the job). They will not exist in structureless soils. Then there are micorhiza fungi and many other beneficial soil organisms and worms which are killed by excessive fertiliser salts used. Nematodes are killed by nematode hunting fungi that don't exist in structureless soils like sand. Those fungi are killed off by excessive fertiliser salts.

Now in regards to the tropics not needing mulch. The tropics get high rainfall which leaches nutrients away very quickly. Unless you have clay or humus your nutrients will disappear very quickly, much more than in a dry climate with less rainfall. The same applies if you irrigate heavily. Soil structure is probably more important in the tropics than anywhere else due to the leaching problems. If I was on sand or structureless soils in the tropics I'd mulch like crazy, as Ari in Darwin does.

Also in regards to rainforest mulches providing little growth. If mulches returned a net negative nutrient benefit, rainforests, and any ecosystem that isn't artificially fertilised in some way just wouldn't exist. Also the plants that grow in rainforests are not that slow. They're actually pretty fast. If you go into a rainforest in Oz, you can tell by the rings on the trunk, that they're a robust happy lot. In there case mulch is what powers them, due to the shear size of the collection of leaf litter, and microbial activity, which is something hard to mimic outside of nature.

So there are my thoughts. I won't accept what a scientist tells me just because he is a scientist. He's also a human that gets paid by someone. He therefore has a bias one way or the other. If what they tell me makes sense I'll listen. I had a look at the UF and only found praise for mulch. I would love to see the "Mulch is Bad" paper.

Also Zeeth mentioned seaweed and fish emulsions. These have plant hormones in them that REALLY WORK. They don't have much NPK. I think seaweed has almost none, but both products are packed with hormones and trace elements. They work to build structure and CEC in the soil.

I'm done now. :)

Best regards

Tyrone

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Wanderanwills

Hi Tyrone,

Very comprehensive and I agree, it just goes to show that there are many factors to soils and mulches.

Most importantly that other fellow palm growers read this information and benefit from it in some way.

Great posts.

Regards

Stephen

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Lowey

Holy cow Tyrone, :mrlooney: I submit to your superior knowledge, either way I like mulch :D:D

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Tyrone

Bruce, "superior" is a word that shouldn't be used in relation to me. I've learnt a few things from others. Others on this forum know way more than me. I've just been interested in this subject due to my lousy soils and have been all ears to anyone who has something to say on this subject for many years.

We're equals mate. :)

Best regards

Tyrone

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Tassie_Troy1971

Well er this has been a very interesting topic - mulch a'do or nothing ! :rolleyes:

But seriously down here i am a big advocate of mulch using peastraw or sugarcane mulch under a layer of sheep manure ,this seems to really make a difference to my palms . My soil 2 yrs ago was dry sandy and water repellant - now it is a rich chocolatey loam . I fertilize with a combination of liquid seasol and powerfeed solutions and dynamic lifter pellets that has Blood and Bone, fishmeal and seaweed help to organically enrich and improve the soil. So basically i use the organic fertilizer and mulch approach. Now i havent seen a palm specific synthetic fertlizer down here for sale but according to Ken Johnson these work very well especially for someone who is time poor and has 100's of palms to fertilize.

There is one thing that mulch excells at and this is weed suppression without mulch this would be a weekly chore for me .

Tyrone - some excellent material there !

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Lowey

Troy, I never saw a rainforest that didn't have a couple of feet of natural mulch, and "damm" the palms there grow like wildfire :) can't improve on nature I rekon :D

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amazondk

Well, I kinda have to use some sort of mulch due to the nasty appearance of my native soil. I'm growing a garden, not field growing palms for sale. I live in a HOA & can't let my place look like a farm. I tried using small river rock as "mulch" but it keeps getting mixed into the substrate. Ken, the future for your palms is to ultimately end up in someones home garden or maybe in a commercial setting. Do you advise your clients to leave bare soil? If you have to mulch should you add additional N? If so how much & whats the best source? :) Randy

Im with you Randy. I am just pointing out that the NUTRITIONAL value of mulch, which was the topic here, is more negative than positive and I am trying to show some examples of how you can grow very well without mulch.

If I could have any ground cover I wanted in an ornamental setting I would choose an inorganic one. I know it's way outside the box to say this but glass comes to mind. Ornamental beads like marbles are a cool look. Rocks are good but they do sink into the soil as you say. I have seen 'rubber" mulch, that's an option. Soil is ok too is it not? When you think about it mulch is a bunch of ground up crap leftover from some saw mill or something, yuck? Just look at BS Mans front yard above. Thats beautifull? (Sorry Bill)

Any other inorganic ground covers that anyone here can think of? I just remembered one. After hurricane Andrew lots of people used broken roof tiles to "mulch". Yep, outside the box!

Ken,

Thanks for all the information. Along with the other contributors. Here in my area people normally keep the ground clean around plantings. In fact in the country people do not grow grass and keep the area around there houses bare swept ground. I used to use mulch a lot in Florida. But, here I have no supply and have only used the material left over from cleaning the grounds to put around the palms. And, this does not last very long. During the rainy season which is 8 months a year you really do not have to worry about keeping things moist. But, the dry season is another issue. I like the idea of non organic mulches you mentioned. There are a lot of brick factories over by my country place. I think I will try clay brick pieces for mulch. I have had some problems getting my coconuts to take off like I think they should. My soil is sandy but holds water fairly well as it has a certain amount of organic content. So, I dug trenches around the coconuts and piled soil up around the base like mulch. I guess it is mulch then in fact. I did this around a C. renda as well. The picture is below. The trench around the plant also should hold more water in when it rains. My land has a slope and when fertilzer is applied it washes away quickly this time of year. I was curious if this would be effictive. Maybe it will be.

dk

post-188-12701263730325_thumb.jpg

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amazondk

Troy, I never saw a rainforest that didn't have a couple of feet of natural mulch, and "damm" the palms there grow like wildfire :) can't improve on nature I rekon :D

Lowey,

Our rainforest here normally has no more than a couple of inches of organic matter accumlated. The organic matter decomposes so quickly that it does not accumlate. It is constantly recycled back into the trees. Here is a shot of an area at my place with secondary forest. The ground is covered with fallen leafs and organic matter. A lot of it from the leaf fall during the past dry season. The stake is where I have a rubber tree, Hevea brasiliensis, planted. The ground here is not much different from that found in a primary forest area. The ground cover is about the same. But, if you dig down only maybe 2 inches down you will run out of top soil. One interesting thing is that this area during the dry season required no watering to keep my young plants well. I am putting primary forest trees into the area. I think that had more to do with the canopy than the natural mulch though. Not that the organic matter did not keep the ground more moist though.

dk

post-188-12701271009976_thumb.jpg

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BS Man about Palms

Wheres Jeff Searle on this? He mulches at his house, but not at his nursery grounds??

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nomolos

To mulch or not to mulch that is the question

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ThunderSRQ

Wow -- this has evolved into quite an informative discussion. I only have one question at this point --

Does anyone know if there has been a study done or if information is available that shows which type of mulch is best re: the amount and/or quality of nutritional value from the decomposing material? I would like to know if eucalyptus, melaleuca, cypress, pine, oak, etc., is best (although I don't use cypress)....

wink-1.gifmrlooney.gifrolleyes.gifrofl7gpcm6.gif

That was my original question which was got this whole thing started and, as yet, has not been answered...too funny.

Anyhow, this information has been very helpful re: my inquiry about the value of mulch (without going into which type is best) and I wanted to add that I have just this year started using composted manure and peat as organic supplementaion with the native sandy soil here when planting stuff (50% native soil mixed 50/50 with a 50/50 manure peat mix, resulting in 25% manure & 25% peat in the soil around the plant). I'm hoping this will produce a good environment for CEC, micorhiza fungi, etc., along with the longer term decomposing mulch.

Has anyone had experience with the Earthgro cow manure product that has other organic material already in the mix? (is this as good as my 50/50 manure/peat mixture for the CEC and beneficial bacteria, fungii, etc.?) The specific Earthgro product I'm referring to (produced by Scotts) states that there is no less than 51% manure and no more than 49% other materials, which are described as basically misc. vegetative matter. Since it's quite a bit cheaper to just buy the Earthgro product as opposed to Black Cow cow manure and a bale of peat (not to mention the additional labor savings in that you don't have any mixing to do), I would prefer using the Earthgro unless the manure/peat is really superior to the manure/misc. vegetative matter. Anyone know?

Thanks again,

Tim

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Zeeth

As to the question as to which type of mulch would be best, I think that whatever decomposes fastest would be best, which is smaller material. I would think melaleuca would be good, as the bark is so papery I think it would break down quickly, plus it has the added benefit of killing extremely invasive plants, so it's a 2 birds with 1 stone situation.

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freakypalmguy

The local place I get my mulch from uses a large tractor to load my truck. Whenever they take a scoop out of the pile, it lets out a bunch of steam. I've even had the stuff let off steam when I start digging into it a day later in the back of my truck. This stuff is obviously deep in the process of breaking down. I've often wondered if putting down mulch that is so active is detrimental?

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ThunderSRQ

One other question I forgot to ask -- does anyone know if the standard mulch available at the big box stores has already composted enough that the nitrogen draw-down is no longer a concern? (or should you let mulch age a little before you put it around your plants?)

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joe_OC

My C. plumosa started throwing stilt roots where I buried it with mulch...once the mulch compressed, the root growth stopped. All of my ti's have roots in the mulch layer because that is where there is a lot of nutrients. I do not know how you can say mulching is a bad thing.

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Jeff Searle

Wheres Jeff Searle on this? He mulches at his house, but not at his nursery grounds??

Jeeez, why does my name come up so often? :mrlooney:

To put it simply, I use as much mulch as I can get. The free stuff. It could be Australian pine, Mahogany, Oak, even Bischofia. As long as it's clean. I do it for several reasons. Mainly to keep the weeds down, to beautify the beds and the plants in them, and to add some acidity, right? But , my soil here is a pretty rich, black soil with a mid pH.

Bill, I would mulch the landscaping beds at the nursery too, but I usually don't have the time or can get that much "more" mulch to use there instead of for my house. But I would and do when I can. I love the stuff, and I'm currently spreading about 25 yards that I recieved a week ago.

And Ken, I have to disagree that there's no go soil in south Florida. I tend to think my soil is very good. Just ask everyone that lives in Dade county, with nothing but sand and limestone rock.

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BS Man about Palms

Thanks Jeff, (and Tyrone now that its AFTER work and I had time to take in your soliloquy!)

:D

I still love Ken though!:winkie:

Hes our go to transplant man!!

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Al in Kona

Hey- I didn't say my yard was beautiful, but its better than the weeds...

plus, it moderates soil temperatures thereby reducing evaporation and save on water usage, promotes mycobacterial action, benefits earthworm activity, slow release nutritional value, discourages nematodes, prevents erosion, keeps weeds to a minimum, acidifies soils somewhat - helps balance PH, not affecting the water table (our drinking water) as chemical fertilizers do, etc. IMO, long range the use of only synthetic fertilizers will show much damage to the environment as compared to using organics. The big chemical companies with their lobbying power and influence would like us to think otherwise but just using our God given common sense doesn't tell me that mulch (especially when composted) is bad in any way, only very beneficial. BTW, I'm not saying never to use certain synthetics but to minimize their use.

Tyrone in his above Post #46 tells it all in a much better way than I can here. Read it again and see if that doesn't make good sense.

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Moose

Hey- I didn't say my yard was beautiful, but its better than the weeds...

plus, it moderates soil temperatures thereby reducing evaporation and save on water usage, promotes mycobacterial action, benefits earthworm activity, slow release nutritional value, discourages nematodes, prevents erosion, keeps weeds to a minimum, acidifies soils somewhat - helps balance PH, not affecting the water table (our drinking water) as chemical fertilizers do, etc. IMO, long range the use of only synthetic fertilizers will show much damage to the environment as compared to using organics. The big chemical companies with their lobbying power and influence would like us to think otherwise but just using our God given common sense doesn't tell me that mulch (especially when composted) is bad in any way, only very beneficial. BTW, I'm not saying never to use certain synthetics but to minimize their use.

Tyrone in his above Post #46 tells it all in a much better way than I can here. Read it again and see if that doesn't make good sense.

Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden heavily mulches its palms. Enough said! post-1261-1208739184.gif <<rock.gif>> greenthumb.gif

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Ken Johnson

This thread is a great example of why this web site is so great. Lots of info and input. I never tire of being the "devils advocate" but know that not only are there many natural laws but also many personal preferences in how to deal with those laws.

I am sure that Jeffs black soil is crap but he digs it. Sorry abou the pun. An annalysis would show it has no CEC as Tyrone notes. Again Jeff is happy but his palms aren't talking. :lol:

Doc's people sweep the soil around thier palms to create a good look, others put ground plant parts for what they call a good look. Mulch of any kind alows some of you to grow where nothing would grow without it. Tim still has no answer but is smarter now, I'm smarter now too thanks Tyrone!

As far as an answer to Tim, what was the question? Oh yea, how to fill a hot tub? No realy, all of us have some amount of fertilizer that is "lost" due to water leaching it. Many fertilizers disolve quickly and there are some that have been designed to battle this problem...time release. Also fertigation where the palms get some food every day is a possible solution. How does mulch play a role? Well building CEC is a start and roots will be able to take some of the cations from the humus but if there is fertilizer in the water (hydroponics) the palm will be able to get much more food. so Tim, if you can find a happy medium between all these ideas that will deliver daily doses of food to your palms then that would be the best way for you to respond to the laws of nature. Do I know the answer? No. I have some ideas and useing Nutricaot products may be part of the solution but a good fertigation plan may be better. A gallon jug with Peters can be good.

Big farmers, the ones that grow wheat and corn for example, use science to a huge degree these days. They also pour huge amounts of fertilizers into the soil around the world. Palm growers are like a drop of water in a ocean compaired to them. The resultant run off of palm fertilizer is for sure a concern but not one that a homeowners responce to would make any difference world wide. The good news is that if you don't want to use sythetics you can still grow palms. The bad news (in Florida) is that your Queen Palms will die. (Oh, thats not bad news? :mrlooney: )Just look at the native palms, no synthetic fertlizer there.

Are we there yet?

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nomolos

This thread is a great example of why this web site is so great. Lots of info and input. I never tire of being the "devils advocate" but know that not only are there many natural laws but also many personal preferences in how to deal with those laws.

I am sure that Jeffs black soil is crap but he digs it. Sorry abou the pun. An annalysis would show it has no CEC as Tyrone notes. Again Jeff is happy but his palms aren't talking. :lol:

Doc's people sweep the soil around thier palms to create a good look, others put ground plant parts for what they call a good look. Mulch of any kind alows some of you to grow where nothing would grow without it. Tim still has no answer but is smarter now, I'm smarter now too thanks Tyrone!

As far as an answer to Tim, what was the question? Oh yea, how to fill a hot tub? No realy, all of us have some amount of fertilizer that is "lost" due to water leaching it. Many fertilizers disolve quickly and there are some that have been designed to battle this problem...time release. Also fertigation where the palms get some food every day is a possible solution. How does mulch play a role? Well building CEC is a start and roots will be able to take some of the cations from the humus but if there is fertilizer in the water (hydroponics) the palm will be able to get much more food. so Tim, if you can find a happy medium between all these ideas that will deliver daily doses of food to your palms then that would be the best way for you to respond to the laws of nature. Do I know the answer? No. I have some ideas and useing Nutricaot products may be part of the solution but a good fertigation plan may be better. A gallon jug with Peters can be good.

Big farmers, the ones that grow wheat and corn for example, use science to a huge degree these days. They also pour huge amounts of fertilizers into the soil around the world. Palm growers are like a drop of water in a ocean compaired to them. The resultant run off of palm fertilizer is for sure a concern but not one that a homeowners responce to would make any difference world wide. The good news is that if you don't want to use sythetics you can still grow palms. The bad news (in Florida) is that your Queen Palms will die. (Oh, thats not bad news? :mrlooney: )Just look at the native palms, no synthetic fertlizer there.

Are we there yet? -we need the root drawing please

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Ken Johnson

Oh yes, the drawing. Here it is.

A. shows the basics. Large roots go all over the place. #2 roots go closer to the surface. #3 roots grow up to the surface.

B. shows a large root near the surface with #3 roots growing up.

C. is a magnification (if your still with me) and shows the little root tips sticking up into the growing substrate (mulch,sand, muck, soil, or into the air if you realy take care of them.

Palm roots can be many feet long even up to 100! You will have to plant and mulch like Bill to cover them all. If you have a 10' circle of mulch around a queen palm that has 20' of trunk you have mulch on about 10% of the roots!

post-50-12702276720593_thumb.jpg

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BS Man about Palms

I understand Kens drawing!!!! :drool:

(and to the best of my knowledge, believe it to be true. This has been a paid political announcement. )

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nomolos

Oh yes, the drawing. Here it is.

A. shows the basics. Large roots go all over the place. #2 roots go closer to the surface. #3 roots grow up to the surface.

B. shows a large root near the surface with #3 roots growing up.

C. is a magnification (if your still with me) and shows the little root tips sticking up into the growing substrate (mulch,sand, muck, soil, or into the air if you realy take care of them.

Palm roots can be many feet long even up to 100! You will have to plant and mulch like Bill to cover them all. If you have a 10' circle of mulch around a queen palm that has 20' of trunk you have mulch on about 10% of the roots!

So Ken are you saying that mulch is bad for these feeder roots and only covers a small percentage of the roots anyway?

I understand that synthetic fertilise is probably the most efficient way to promote growth?

What I am unsure about is how to stop nematodes and improve the soil quality without mulching or using organic matter?

I am just wanting to learn.

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Ken Johnson

Sol, Mulches in general detract from the nutrion that these feeder roots get. If ferts are added that will help a great deal. Another potential fertilizer robber is other plants. When you consider the true spread of roots in your garden and if its jammed full of plants like many of us here then you may have to mulch the whole place like Bill!

If you are in the way outback and can't get fertilizer from the factory and you can find organic sources for all the nutritional needs of the palms you are growing (including "broken down" mulches)then I want to see pictures! :rolleyes:

Nematodes are not my forte. :huh: "Soil" is covered by Tyrone in this thread pretty well.

Also I mentioned to MattyB that if you gently pull back your mulch you may see 'roots growing up". First person that posts a pic of that wins the Mulcher Of The Year Award! :lol::mrlooney:

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nomolos

Sol, Mulches in general detract from the nutrion that these feeder roots get. If ferts are added that will help a great deal. Another potential fertilizer robber is other plants. When you consider the true spread of roots in your garden and if its jammed full of plants like many of us here then you may have to mulch the whole place like Bill!

If you are in the way outback and can't get fertilizer from the factory and you can find organic sources for all the nutritional needs of the palms you are growing (including "broken down" mulches)then I want to see pictures! :rolleyes:

Nematodes are not my forte. :huh: "Soil" is covered by Tyrone in this thread pretty well.

Also I mentioned to MattyB that if you gently pull back your mulch you may see 'roots growing up". First person that posts a pic of that wins the Mulcher Of The Year Award! :lol::mrlooney:

Thanks Ken

Perhaps then the best way to mulch is to put fertiliser down first (slow release) and to mulch with an organic fertiliser such as cow manure (well composted), kelp(if available) and blue metal crusher dust for extra minerals.

Then give foliar and root feedings a combination of balanced fertilisers high in N and K less phosphate. Also powerfeed and seasol, humus plus trace elements.

I want to get the quickest growth but do not want to burn the palms with too much fertiliser.

How often then should one fertilise eg big doses a few times a year or regular small doses? Also what about fertilising in cooler weather such as autumn and winter?

This has been a great topic :interesting:

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Ken Johnson

I think that for many applications that a good time release with everthing packed in and the mulch on top to stop (or slow) the nitrogen gas from escaping would be all you need.

I have heard a report that a guy put too much nutricaot on and had burn so for sure keep it in the recomended range.

If leaching and downhill erosion is a problem then lees food more often is a great idea.

Remember too that established palms have very long roots. As I said a mature queen palm can have roots up to or more that 20 meters! Your fetilizer should reach all these roots. In Bills case in a few years he will just spread fertliizer like putting salt on a steak, not just in one place but on the whole thing.

Over the 25 years of growing on every square inch here I have developed a root mat that is increadable. In fact because the "soil" is so shallow I can lift one palm and if it is not dug all the way several other palms will start to lift with it! I have used a 'shot gun" approach to feeding. When I buy fertilizer I do not buy the same product every time. Instead I mix it up hopeing my palms will get what they need eventually as the science of nutrition and what acually happens in your garden can be two different things.

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Central Floridave

Happiness is a fresh pile of mulch! My friend just delivered some free golden mulch from the county. Geez, I hope I don't take up all the nitrogen from the plants!(sarcasm)

We are entering Florida's Dry season. The mulch will help keep the moisture in the ground rather than evaporating. I luv Mulch! Another benefit of mulch is the excercise I will get from spreading it. Who needs to go to the gym?

post-147-12705537681421_thumb.jpg

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ariscott

Hey.... my name has been mentioned... so I have to reply.

I don't know about other people's experience... but my place is an ex-market garden (mainly vegies) so the previous owner plants in rows. I can see some parts has very good top soil and some has very poor soil!! I have been mulching for the last 3-4 years now, and I can see the difference it makes to the soil. In the first 2 years, my plants planted in the poor soil, has performed very poorly. After mulching heavily for 3-4 years, it has improved so much, and my plants start to grow well.

I don't know about Hawaii, but in Darwin, if I don't mulch, the soil will be very dry in the dry season. Hence, the plants will suffer, especially the ultra tropical stuff like iguanura, calyptrocalyx, pinanga, licuala, etc. I don't water everyday, even in the dry... because I mulch. And yes... our dry season is very dry and long!!

In the wet, if I don't mulch, the garden beds will be overrun by weeds. They grow much faster than anything I planted. I will have 3m grass growing in my garden in 2 weeks (not joking!!). So, mulch serves a lot of benefits for me... Yes, it is expensive as I use 300 bales of hay last wet and time consuming as we just finished our garden a few months ago, and just about to do it again in a month time... but I can see some worm activity in my soil now, the soil also stays moist and full of organics. I don't know about you.... but I do check the condition of my soil all the time and I never see any downside of mulching. As a nursery man once told me "Don't feed your plants, feed your soil"

Regards, Ari :)

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Lowey

Hey.... my name has been mentioned... so I have to reply.

I don't know about other people's experience... but my place is an ex-market garden (mainly vegies) so the previous owner plants in rows. I can see some parts has very good top soil and some has very poor soil!! I have been mulching for the last 3-4 years now, and I can see the difference it makes to the soil. In the first 2 years, my plants planted in the poor soil, has performed very poorly. After mulching heavily for 3-4 years, it has improved so much, and my plants start to grow well.

I don't know about Hawaii, but in Darwin, if I don't mulch, the soil will be very dry in the dry season. Hence, the plants will suffer, especially the ultra tropical stuff like iguanura, calyptrocalyx, pinanga, licuala, etc. I don't water everyday, even in the dry... because I mulch. And yes... our dry season is very dry and long!!

In the wet, if I don't mulch, the garden beds will be overrun by weeds. They grow much faster than anything I planted. I will have 3m grass growing in my garden in 2 weeks (not joking!!). So, mulch serves a lot of benefits for me... Yes, it is expensive as I use 300 bales of hay last wet and time consuming as we just finished our garden a few months ago, and just about to do it again in a month time... but I can see some worm activity in my soil now, the soil also stays moist and full of organics. I don't know about you.... but I do check the condition of my soil all the time and I never see any downside of mulching. As a nursery man once told me "Don't feed your plants, feed your soil"

Regards, Ari :)

Halleluiah, you said a mouthful Ari :greenthumb: the land where I live was an old sugar cane farm,and the soil was stuffed :sick: the areas I have mulched for many years can grow almost anything, :drool: the areas that I have not mulched tend to kill anything I try to plant there :( mulch is king :wub:

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Miccles

This mulch thread inspired me so much, I bought some today !! :mrlooney:

I was due to get some anyhow, as the weather is now getting cooler, and it was time to add some nutrients/protection to the new garden out the back.

So along came a couple of cubic metres of the good stuff. A mixture of oak/eucalypt ...some of it had already began to break down, and there was no grass in it.

Then spent the next 4 hours wheel-barrowing down to the back yard and putting in place.

post-953-12706356376791_thumb.jpg

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Miccles

ooohhh yeeeaahhh..the good stuff. My soil is quite sandy and very free draining...so this stuff is essential.

Regards

Michael.

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Lowey

This mulch thread inspired me so much, I bought some today !! :mrlooney:

I was due to get some anyhow, as the weather is now getting cooler, and it was time to add some nutrients/protection to the new garden out the back.

So along came a couple of cubic metres of the good stuff. A mixture of oak/eucalypt ...some of it had already began to break down, and there was no grass in it.

Then spent the next 4 hours wheel-barrowing down to the back yard and putting in place.

Good for you Michael, your plants will repay you for your effort in the long term :D

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nomolos

I have to say that mulching with organic compost has made a huge difference to a part of my garden where the soil was dry sandy and quite shady, the plants are thriving and lots of fungi (mushrooms) growing, it has probably been the best thing I have done for the growth of my garden.

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_Keith

The local place I get my mulch from uses a large tractor to load my truck. Whenever they take a scoop out of the pile, it lets out a bunch of steam. I've even had the stuff let off steam when I start digging into it a day later in the back of my truck. This stuff is obviously deep in the process of breaking down. I've often wondered if putting down mulch that is so active is detrimental?

Here where it gets very damp and very warm, large mulch piles have actually caught fire internally. The smolder for days, even weeks till they either run out of fuel, or someone comes along and spreads them out.

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