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what kind of fruits and nuts like to be planted into straight aged compost?  RSS feed

 
Posts: 18
Location: Ithaca NY
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Hello, I am wondering if anyone has some insight on what kind of fruit/nut trees or bushes enjoy getting planted into straight compost. The reason I ask is we have access to large volumes of inexpensive (food scraps from restaurants derived) compost in this area, and I am exploring the idea of putting down a layer of compost say 6-8 inches thick, maybe 3 feet wide and 100 felt long on contour and planting directly into it as a method of rapid food forest establishment.

any thoughts?
 
pollinator
Posts: 313
Location: Western Washington
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I would scrape back the compost and plant directly into the ground, just like people do with wood chips. You could then put the compost back as mulch, just be sure not to pile it next to the base. Compost lacks mineralization and also will eventually settle/decay unpredictably, meaning that as it breaks down some roots might get exposed.
That being said, you could give it a shot and see how it goes. If the trees are able to reach the dirt underneath they might get the minerals they need. I'm sure the presence of compost in either scenario would make for happy plants
 
pollinator
Posts: 2352
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even Soil:SandyLoam pH6 Flat
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Pretty much all nuts and fruit like to grow in straight compost that is ages.
The extra nutrients will not hurt them in the least bit.
Some people might say that the herbs aren't as flavorful because the plant wasn't stressed enough
If the compost isn't aged and it has too much nitrogen, you might have to prune more, but yours is aged.
And even if the compost isn't aged, as long as there is balance with extra N and extra P and extra K it is fine..

The real reason why compost is not good for nuts and fruits is:
that plant roots will not leave the rich "delicious" compost and go into the original soil.
Because the roots never leave the compost the roots become root bound
With shallow roots the plants topple over with the least bit of wind/snow/etc
Without deep roots once the 6inches of compost dries out the plant has no water and "falters"

So now there is 3 ways that I would use compost.
1) Total replacement  20ft by 20ft recommened tree spacing and topsoil that is 24inch deep.
2) Plant in regular base soil and top dress 2 inch of compost similar to 2inch of mulch/straw
3) Use the compost to make aerated compost tea with lots of effective microbes (EM).
 
pollinator
Posts: 442
Location: Redwood Country, Zone 9-10, 60" rain/yr,
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Geoff Lawton seems to suggest a mix of 50-70% coarse/sharp river sand to 30-50% quality compost for tree starts in pots. I've found this started tomatoes well too. If your drainage is adequate I'd go with the compost 2-4" deep from 1ft from trunk out to double the dripline distance if you can. That would take a lot of compost, and you could grow vegetables and vines in between the trees until the canopy closes.  If you have drainage concerns on your site (root flare less than 2ft above high water), that would be the exception. I'd find a higher site, or build hugel beds with native soil from adjacent paths and maybe river sand, and use compost on top at 2-4" deep.  
 
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