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  • From: Mary Yett <>
  • To:, mailing list at ibiblio - Northamerican Allied Fruit Experimenters <>
  • Subject: Re: [nafex] fertilzing
  • Date: Sun, 17 May 2015 22:10:50 -0400

Add organic spot mulch generously around each tree at least to the drip
line every year and gradually over several years your sandy soil will
become a rich sandy loam which is both fertile and water retaining. The
organic mulch feeds the soil food web, a complex ecosystem of bacteria,
fungi, worms, protozoa, arthropods, etc. This ecosystem makes the mineral
nutrients in your soil bioavailable, creates air passages deep in the soil
( which also let water penetrate deeply), deposits humus ( very water
retaining), builds topsoil, sequesters carbon, and does many other useful

Planting a diverse ground cover mix of herbaceous plants under your trees
instead of grass can also help the health of the life in the soil, One
trick is to plant perennial biomass producers such as comfrey, lovage,
valerian, red clover, bird's foot trefoil,etc and cut them down once or
twice a year, leaving their biomass on top of the soil as mulch. This is
called " chop and drop" in permaculture circles.

I have successfully gotten away with sprinkling a thin layer of heavy clay
soil (1/2 inch) on top of a thick mulch of organic material overlying very
sandy soil and then adding more mulch ( lasagna method of soil building).
The clay and the sand were not touching and no concrete was produced. The
gradual action of worms and the leaching effect of rain, etc will slowly
add minerals to the deeper layers of soil.

Trees last a long time, so a slow but steady method that produces reliable
results is worth the effort and wait in my book. Spray the trees with
compost tea twice a year if needed during the "waiting period". It works

Mary Yett

On Sun, May 17, 2015 at 9:06 PM, Jay Cutts <> wrote:

> Hey, Jerry.
> I suggested that on the list last year - mixing sand into the clay soil at
> my other location - and was told that the result would be cement :)
> Regards,
> Jay
> Jay Cutts
> Director, Cutts Graduate Reviews
> Lead Author, Barron's MCAT Prep Book
> Lead Author, Barron's LSAT Prep Book (2013)
> (505) 281-0684
> 10 am to 10 pm Mountain Time, 7 days
> On 5/17/2015 8:45 AM, Jerry Lehman via nafex wrote:
>> Greetings fellow NAFEX'ers,
>> Lee is absolutely correct in everything he wrote. I might add a footnote,
>> if your sand has little organic matter even the dissolved fertilizer
>> nutrients will leach beyond the root area and continued fertilization will
>> be more necessary than sandy high organic soil. The long-term effect of the
>> manure is slower release of the nutrients for more continual feeding but
>> still is relatively short-lived and continual annual reapplication is
>> desirable.
>> I wish I could take about 6 inches of my clay and give it in exchange for
>> 6 inches of years sand that we could mix the 2 together for both of us. :-)
>> Jerry
>> On 5/16/2015 9:01 AM, Lee Reich wrote:
>>> The ideal is to plan more long-term for fertilization. As you saw,
>>> manure’s benefit was not realized the first season. Bulky organic
>>> fertilizers, such as some manures and compost (which is so low in
>>> nutrients
>>> that it cannot legally be termed “fertilizer”), have long-term nutrient
>>> benefits. I would suggest using those and applying them as mulches.
>>> As far as spring vs fall, fall fertilization is fine if it’s applied
>>> late enough, in mid fall or later, depending on the local climate. Plant
>>> growth won’t be stimulated, no matter what, once a plant has experienced
>>> sufficient cold and short days. If a fall-applied fertilizer is organic,
>>> with nutrients locked up in organic compounds, those nutrients anyway
>>> won’t
>>> become available until microbes take action the following spring.
>>> Poor growth is not only attributable to insufficient nutrition. Your
>>> sandy soil dries out quickly. Nutrients cannot do anything if the soil is
>>> too dry.
>>> Lee Reich, PhD
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