DIY Yards and Health

DIY Yards and Health
Helping the Do It Yourself home owner in making themselves and surroundings healthy

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Idaho Trees and Clay Soil

The most overlooked problem in Idaho is how clay soil affects our trees. Trees roots need macropores or "air space" or you literally suffocate them. Clay is not "bad" soil, it's just too compact and needs organic matter to  create that air space.
Back East the Arborist effectively fix this with what is called an Air Spade; however Idaho has been slow to get this critical aeration tool working on our trees. Over eighty percent of the tree evaluations I am called out on have soil compaction that is creating the symptoms. Over compacted soil slowly suffocating a tree, and making it unhealthy, invites in other disease and pests that target sick plants. An uninformed Pest Control person will advise pesticides but what we really need to do is improve the environment the tree is in and make it healthy so it can fight off those issues.
So what do we do?
It is a simple process of using high-pressure air to break apart that soil without damaging the roots as shown in these two videos.
Part One showing the trenches for Air Spade Repair
Part Two Showing the Air Spade in Action

If you want healthy trees in heavy clay; you have to fix the problem. Fall is an ideal time on dormant decidua trees. Cost usually starts around $475 to get the equipment, people and materials on the first tree but then subsequent trees are $165 clear down to $50 for smaller trees.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Landscape fabric and tree health

Years ago we were told landscape fabric was the answer. But as we start to check trees showing health issues we are seeing more and more examples like this photo.

This was peeled back (just bark on top) at a client in Nampa who's property was just ten year old. Most of the tree roots were on the surface searching for water and oxygen. The fabric was NOT breathing but the little pores in it were clogged from the organic matter break down. Water was running off so the roots were getting almost none of the irrigation.

I have seen this all over the treasure valley. You need to dig around your trees and pull the fabric back. If this is happening; remove the fabric several feet past the drip line.

You'll find roots growing into the fabric as well, especially small feeder roots. Unfortunately a lot of this will have to be removed but if you don't do it now it will end up killing the tree.

In this case we did airspade work and used the high compressed air to separate the root growth from the fabric and then did trenches to help with the organic matter in the soil.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Truth about spraying Organic Oil

Organic Oil; aka Dormant Oil or Horticulture oil, is done usually in the winter to coat the tree in a thin oil sheen that suffocates overwintering insect eggs.

I feel it is a must because it IS organic, inexpensive and good to coat open wounds after winter pruning.

The truth about Oil is that, although not toxic like a chemical insecticide, it is more difficult to apply because of the amount of water volume needed to do it right. The common mix rate is 1 to 100 or in most cases one gallon to 100 gallons of water. It has to be applied to "run-off" which means to get adequate coverage you need to really use a lot to cover the entire tree correctly.

The photo shown is not enough material to really do the job, even a small fruit tree can use as much as 7 to 8 gallons to reach complete run-off and a large Maple could use as much as 30 gallons.

This means you either buy a dedicated thirty gallon tank with a gas pump that can shoot the material thirty plus feet high, or you hire a professional. The material cost is not that much so what you really pay for is the $5,000 of equipment to apply it right. Still, that fruit tree shouldn't be more than $10 a tree after the minimum stop fee (price to get the equipment there). I do this with a large pump system in a truck and still the average yard costs is $65.

The other important item about the equipment is agitation. This is oil and water...we know that old saying, they don't want to mix. So the tank must be aggressively agitated the entire time, so the guy in the photo should be shaking that tank continually.

My advise is to have the bigger equipment do the organic oil sprays so you know it's being done right. Often this is all you need in pest control for the tree. If a situation arises where you are forced to do an insecticide on your fruit trees, the above photo would be fine because you'll be using a lot less material and just misting the product on (not to run-off).

If you've pruned...make sure the oil is sprayed...insects love to lay eggs on new wounds.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Plant nutrition process

I've talked a lot about Mycorrhizae and the microbes that transfer nutrients into our garden plants.

These are beneficial fungi that actually attach themselves to the roots of your plants and transfer nutrients into your vegetables.

The best demonstration I have seen on this subject are photos under which actually give you a look through a microscope and identify what they look like.

This is what we are looking for when we put your soil under the scope to see what the condition your soil is actually in and well worth looking at.

Click Here.

If you do not have this in your soil you will not have plants that have the nutrients you are looking for to make your family healthier.


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Soil for your raised beds

Soil is key to vegetables that actually have the nutrients to help our bodies become healthier.

Raised beds (actually Table Top height) really are the answer when it comes down to gardening with less pain. However raised beds cut off the mycorrhizal network that conveys nutrients from the soil into your plant.

The answer is to replace the soil every year with rich vermicomposted and thermal composted materials (we focus on non-chemically treated vegetable and leaf matter).

We build our soils this way and we use the ingredients to make compost tea to inject in the bins in July.

The result is better quality food. Organic labels just mean they have not used pesticides. Which is a step in the right direction but you have to actually have nutrient rich foods to feed your body to improve the immune system and get back into the correct organic loop.

Price is pretty inexpensive - there is a trip fee (we start in Eagle at the Fry Homestead Farm). Then we look at your soil with a microscope to see what you really need. Most soil costs are around 3 to $4 a square foot. Microbe injections are three dollars each.