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Can I dig fresh food scraps near young tree roots without root rot?  RSS feed

 
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I've planted some apple trees is some clay soil. I'd love to bury food scraps every few days near them to add nutrients and help break the clay when summer comes. In fact I could add a lot of dead leaves as well as horse manure.

Will this cause root rot? It would be such a simple way of gardening there must be a reason nobody does it.
 
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Recent Scientific studies show that burying food scraps can create an anaerobic condition in the immediate area of the burial.
Since all the "bad" microbes love and flourish in such conditions, the practice of raw food scrap burials as a way to amend soil seems to be detrimental to the objective of creating good soil microbiomes.

Raw food scraps will put off CO2, Methane and other gasses as they decompose, these gasses can cause a kill off of the beneficial bacteria, fungi and nematodes that are highly desirable in soils.

The best methods of dealing with food scraps are Vermicomposting and hot composting since these methods limit the gassing off of known greenhouse effect gasses, they also prevent putrification of the materials which keep pathogens and parasitic organisms to a lower population.

Redhawk
 
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Adding coffee ground might be a way to improve the clay soil.

I have been doing this with my caliche.  I see improvement to the soil though I can't say I see any improvement for plants, plus or minus.
 
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Have you had your soil tested? That would be a top priority for me.

I sometimes spread mostly finished compost on the soil surface and then cover over with wood chips (if I have them) and/or last year's fallen leaves (I stockpile them when I can) and coffee grounds. That way, air can get in and around everything, and the compost is finished by the worms in my garden bed, who effectively till the beds as they move up and down the soil column.

In your specific situation, I would see if there is perhaps an obvious mineral deficiency that could be addressed. For instance, some types of clay soils have permeability issues caused by calcium deficiency.

In a case I dealt with personally (after much reading of Redhawk's threads on soil science), I dropped about a foot of organic matter, comprised of rotted straw from a previous year's strawbale raised bed, ramial wood chips from a local urban arborist, and scrounged spent coffee grounds, atop my clay soil, along with broken-up pieces of gypsum (you can use the stuff in the bag, I just happened to have some broken drywall laying around), which I then forked in. I also applied homebrewed oxygenated compost extracts to enhance soil life populations, and slurries of oyster mushroom.

The change in my soil was astounding. The best part was the fact that none of the perennials were adversely affected. One of these was a neighbouring cherry tree older than I am whose roots spread out into our yard.

So I would see what a soil test says, do whatever of the above seems appropriate, and either feed the fresh food scraps to something that will break it down into a form available to plants, anything from worms to rabbits to pigs will do, or compost it, so the little guys do all the work. Then, brew oxygenated compost extracts if that sounds like something you'd do, or just topdress the soil surface, maybe under mulch, and let the worms and water work it in, as occurs in nature.

But let us know how it goes, and good luck!

-CK
 
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