Tag Archives: Organic

Why Your Yard Needs Mycorrhizal Fungi


A mycorrhizal fungi is a symbiotic relationship between a plant and a fungi. This network of mycorrhiza can span miles and miles within one small cubic foot of soil.

Why Does This Matter?

This symbiotic relationship allows plants to draw nutrients and water that the root system itself would be incapable of. It also allows for the plant to resist disease and toxins. Mycorrhizal fungi can also be a great factor in drought tolerance, yield of fruit or flowers, prevention of soil compaction, ability to withstand the sowing process for seeds or transplantation, and overall microbial activity in the soil.

How Do I Encourage Mycorrhizal Relationships?

Here is a list of things that harm mycorrhizal relationships:

  • Erosion
  • Road and Home Construction
  • Leaving Soil Bare
  • Tillage
  • Fertilization
  • Fumigation
  • Chemical Treatment of Soil
  • Removal of Topsoil

These things can completely eliminate the mycorrhizal relationship in your soil.  This can leave plants in your landscape with a significant need for maintenance and upkeep.

You can add mycorrhizal fungi to your soil by using organic fertilizers that contain the correct fungi, or you can use a mycorrhizal inoculant such as those found at www.mycoapply.com .

Continued practices of not using chemicals, covering the bare ground that you can with mulch or other plants, and not tilling or leaving the soil to erode will keep the mycorrhizal fungi at home and not disturbed.

Having mycorrhizal fungi in your soil is the cure to a problem you didn’t know you had. These little guys will be personal caretakers for your plants so you can direct all your energy somewhere else.


Privet Dig

I got lucky in being able to dig up two large pom pom style wax leaf privets up from a friend. There was also a stumped one that looks like it’ll turn out great. Here are some of the before photos:

I guess this is sort of a before picture… I also got the little one out so fast I didn’t really think to take a before photo.

One of the things that makes these so good to dig up is that they’re pretty dang indestructible. I have transplanted these in mid summer without any damage to them. The really thick cuticle on the leaves give it a tremendous ability to hold water without losing it through the leaves.

I was very pleased to realize these bushes had been watered really well (which is rare in the desert) and I pulled back the plastic while digging and saw a wonderful mat of mycorrhiza.

Another shot of the roots:

In bonsai you don’t always see this on the surface, but you should hope it is in the roots when you repot. You can encourage the growth of mycorrhiza with organic fertilizer. This is one of the reasons that organic fertilizer is preferred over chemical fertilizer.

Here is one of my tea bags that is breaking down with organic fertilizer inside of it.

Once I got the bushes out I had to transport them home….without a truck.

I got them into larger pots once I got home. The plan is to let them grow while air layering each pom pom off in the Spring.

Pruning Fruit Trees Info

There are 3 different shapes that are mentioned when training fruit trees.

Vase shape fruit tree pruning

The vase shape and central leader are more commonly used. Below is a visualization of a fruit trees first few years of growth and pruning to accomplish the vase shape. Both thinning and heading cuts are used to accomplish this.

Thinning cuts are cuts made at the base of the branch you are pruning. Heading cuts are made at differing lengths of the branch. The purpose of thinning is to make the trees growth less compact and open up space for the inner branches to receive sunlight. The purpose of heading is to force growth from buds lower on the branch rather than letting it grow longer.

Vase shape fruit tree pruning

It is also helpful to understand the difference between leaf buds, flower buds, and spurs on our trees. Flower buds and spurs bear fruit and should not normally be removed, however some branches that need to be pruned may contain a few fruit bearing buds or spurs. Spurs appear on apples, pears, plums, and apricots. Flower buds grow alone or beside leaf buds on stone fruits and with several leaves on apples and pears.

Flower and Leaf Buds

Photo courtesy of Michigan State University Extension

Here is a photo of spurs on fruit trees:

Spurs and Flower buds on fruit trees

Photo Courtesy of Country Trading Blog

Now that we can identify these let us move on to how the fruit grow on each tree.

Almond: Almonds bear fruit on 1 year-old shoots. They continue to bear on that branch for up to 5 years. Vase shape training

Apple: Apples bear on two year-old wood for up to 10 years. Be careful not to pull off spurs when harvesting. Vast shape training

Apricot: Apricots only bear fruit on the previous years growth. Pruning recommended in late Summer to avoid disease. Pruning keeps production near and not on top branches only.

Cherry: Cherries bear fruit on spurs for up to 10 years. Central-leader system

Peach / Nectarine: Peaches fruit on 1 year-old wood and will not fruit again once harvested. Vase shape training. Prune back vertical shoots to horizontal shoots.

Pear: Pears bear fruit on spurs on 3 to 10 year-old branches for up to 10 years. Careful not to pull off when picking pears! Central-leader system.

Plum: Plums bear fruit on older branches spurs with the best production being from 2 – 4 year-old branched. They bear for 5 to 8 years.

Pomegranate: Pomegranate fruit on new growth each year.

With this information we can identify what branches will bear fruit and consider that when pruning branches.

5 Reasons To Use Organic Mulch

Why do we mulch our trees and planters? Not only does it decrease water needs, but it helps manage weeds, which is enough for me to do it to everything on my property. There are many options for mulch that are effective and relatively cheap. The benefits of organic mulch heavily outweigh its inorganic counterpart due to the following reasons:

Organic Mulch

1. Insulation

Mulch insulates the soil, which in turn helps the roots with varying temperatures. Plants that are on the edge of your zone might be saved from a good mulching.

2. Nourishment

With organic materials being part of your mulch you gain the benefit of having your mulch provide nutrients. As the mulch decomposes it will release nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium into the soil. If you use compost as a mulch you can also add several micro-nutrients and trace minerals that commercial fertilizers are often lacking.

3. Free or Low Cost

Plenty of organic mulches can be obtained completely free of cost. Grass clippings, straw, leaves, compost, saw dust, rice hulls, bark chips, hay, straw, shredded paper or newspaper, and even living mulch such as perennial can all be used as organic mulch. If you can’t obtain some of these materials for free they are not as expensive as their inorganic buddies.

Shredded Bark Mulch

4. Reuse Discarded Materials

Think of how many things that I just listed that you’ve previously thrown away at some point in your life. These materials are frequently thrown away and loaded to a dump. Just the leaves and grass that your yard might produce can be turned into organic mulch instead of purchasing up to $30 worth of bagged rubber mulch from a big box store.

5. Condition Soil for Water Retention and Root Development

As the soil is conditioned through organic mulching it increases in capacity to hold water. This has a profound effect on root growth as it encourages roots to grow deeper and extend farther. Additionally this can help prevent erosion by doing so.

While I wouldn’t discourage using inorganic mulch for your yard over no mulch, there are plenty of reasons that show organic mulch is the best for your plants and trees.