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Qualities of soil built from decades of incense cedar debris  RSS feed

 
Posts: 8
Location: Southern Oregon
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Hi all, I was taking down an old shed on my property yesterday and discovered something interesting. The shed was on sloped ground, about 20 feet downhill from a large incense cedar (Calocedrus decurrens). The building was at least 50-60 years old, and on the uphill side of it, the soil had built up about two feet, rotting out the lower portions of the old metal roofing panels that were used as siding. Upon removing the building, I could see that in cross section this entire two feet looked like pure top soil. Like this is what I hope my garden soil looks like in five years (just starting out on this property). It has excellent structure, smell and appearance, and was full of earthworms and sow bugs, and I realized this is the result of decades of litter from the cedar tree washing up against the wall and getting stuck.

I prepared a sample for the microscope and found a truly massive bacterial population more along the lines of compost than native soil, but I was surprised that I was unable to make out any fungal hypha on the entire slide. I know true cedars are antifungal, and though incense cedar isn't a true cedar, it's more closely related to redwoods and junipers which I think are somewhat antifungal as well.

I'm hoping to hear some opinions on removing this stuff and using it in the garden or other plantings. Now that the shed that was holding it in place is gone, I either need to remove it or it's going to get washed away in no time (and I'm using the area it occupies as a pathway going forward). It looks like excellent stuff except for the lack of fungal life, and I'd hate to waste it as there's probably at least a few yards of it to be had, but I'm concerned that the organic matter its derived from could possibly inhibit plant growth. Does anyone have more knowledge about potential antifungal properties, or any other inhibiting effects, of incense cedar in particular.
 
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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To get a fungal element into that wonderful detritus you would need to put it through a composting cycle that included at least 1/4 volume of manures and fresh greens from deciduous trees or grasses.

The cedars, junipers and redwoods are trees that seem to benefit more from the bacterial side of the soil microbiota, most of the fungi I've seen around these types of trees is wood eating fungi not soil types.

If you have a lot of these species of trees around you, making compost teas would be a good method for improving your soil microbiome for better fungal activity.

Addendum:
When you refer to incense cedar are you meaning aromatic cedar also known as Juniperus virginiana? Or are you talking about Calocedrus?
"Calocedrus is a genus of coniferous trees in the cypress family Cupressaceae first described as a genus in 1873. It is native to eastern Asia and western North America. The generic name means "beautiful cedar"."

We (Native Americans) use the Juniperus virginiana, AKA red cedar as incense to thank the creator for hearing the prayers we send up in the incense smoke.

Redhawk
 
Dan Johanson
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Location: Southern Oregon
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Thanks for the info Redhawk!

It's time to empty out the manure pack from the goat and duck houses, so I'll mix some of the soil in with that when I heap it up. And it's Calocedrus that I'm talking about.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Dan, If you should ever be able to gather some seed, I'd really love a few to try and grow on Buzzard's Roost.
 
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