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Juniper litter in the garden?  RSS feed

 
Posts: 3
Location: Ash Fork Arizona
forest garden greening the desert trees
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I live in north-central AZ, at 5,000 feet.  I am new here.  I told a friend from Mexico that we just put a load of horse manure on a garden bed we're starting and he said, "Don't use manure.  It gets too hot and it dries out too quickly.  You'll have to water it a lot."  He said, "you have a lot of junipers on your property, right?"  

We do.  They are one-seed and Utah junipers.  He said that the soil should be good.  Just use litter from the trees instead of manure.  He said the litter is especially good for growing peppers.  I'd always thought junipers were very allelopathic, but the research I've googled up  indicates that they aren't. Isn't that interesting?  Should I try my friend's advice?
 
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Hi laura

I'm on the other side of Holbrook from you.

Allelowhatever, thanks for the new word.

The only leaf litter I can get is from one seed juniper and I have been avoiding it for that reason.  I have no information for you but this spring I will try some test pots.

I have recently tried our soil(!!) In my composting worm bin and they seem happy enough in it. I will see how the worms like juniper litter.

My place is way off grid and I equate it with being on mars. If you come across any useful ideas for this region, pass it on.
 
Laura Banks
Posts: 3
Location: Ash Fork Arizona
forest garden greening the desert trees
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Thanks Kevin.  I will keep you posted as well.  I found a couple studies about how one-seed juniper and Utah juniper don't seem to affect native grasses chemically,it's the depth of the litter and physical characteristics that inhibit growth.

Here are the articles I've found:
http://jur.byu.edu/?p=3520

https://journals.uair.arizona.edu/index.php/jrm/article/download/7869/7481

https://www.wildflower.org/expert/show.php?id=7101
 
kevin stewart
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Hi Laura

I collected juniper leaf litter last month and planted black beans.
They look okay but time will tell.
This is pure leaf litter, no soil added and it didn't compost. Water goes right through it.
Maybe I'll try some mixed with potting soil this spring and if that looks good it will go into the ground with my next batch of trees this November.
IMG_20180212_090336.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_20180212_090336.jpg]
 
steward
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Location: USDA Zone 8a
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Hi, Kevin

Would you tell us what kind of juniper you have?

That was a great experiment and a great idea to test the  juniper leaf matter.  I might try that too.
 
Laura Banks
Posts: 3
Location: Ash Fork Arizona
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Great idea, Kevin!  I wonder if that's the value of juniper litter in this arid climate - that it allows the water to seep through and then maybe keeps moisture from evaporating out of the soil layer beneath? Shot in the dark.

Anne, Kevin mentioned that he has only One Seed Juniper. Are you in this area too?
 
kevin stewart
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Hi Laura

When i plant my trees i cover the good soil with  a piece of plastic to keep the moisture in and then cover the plastic with more local soil.

I plant all my trees in a recessed hole. If i we're using leaf matter i would make it a mound so that as the matter deteriorated it would sink down.

Years ago i planted like 4000  papaya seeds in 400 pots using mostly leaf matter (neem tree if you must know)
Within two weeks i had a bunch of half filled pots.

Yes, i had to eat a lot of papaya to get those seeds.
 
kevin stewart
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Hi Lauren
Update on juniper leaf litter and growing beans.
After starting black bean seeds in pure juniper litter I transferred the whole bunch into regular soil. They are doing fine. (In California)

In late October I brought a plastic storage box with compost worms to our Arizona area. I left the box out in the open till January, figuring that in the freezing nights the worms would die or cocoon hibernate or come back from eggs. In January there were still live ones and I moved the box to a sheltered area and added juniper litter to the mix.

Last week I dumped the lot into a large garbage can full of worm food and I found a plenty of active worms centered around the juniper litter.
I keep my worm composting simple: a garbage can with holes in the bottom and keep filling it with things worms like to eat. I keep it covered and somewhat wet. Out here we have to make our own soil. I finally found a use for the Gallup New Mexico yellow pages.
 
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