John Elliott wrote:Pecans are deep taproot trees, so your fiddling around with the topsoil around the dripline is hardly going to be noticed.
John Elliott wrote:That said, there is a lot you can do with the understory. Some pecan growers seed the grove with crimson clover and the nitrogen that the clover fixes is a net benefit for the tree. You could also plant grapes and let them climb up the trees, pecans seem to tolerate that well. Blackberries are another possibility, but if you are not careful, you could end up with a big tangle of brambles that would make it hard to harvest the nuts. I know it is popular in the South to plant azaleas because "oh, they look so pretty" for the two weeks they are in flower, but other than that, they really are a useless plant. They are one of the few plants that don't host any mycorrhizal fungi, so they are not really helping the other plants any.
John Elliott wrote:I would say build your berms with wood chips, lawn clippings, brush cuttings or whatever you have available and then cover that with a few inches of topsoil. It will end up looking like a hugelbed. Maybe plant it with some flowers -- canna lilies, zinnia, marigolds, dahlia, etc., to give it some curb appeal.
Jennifer Wadsworth wrote:Hi Tina:
How much rain do you get and do you get significant runoff flowing downhill in the area of the tree (making its way to that ditch)? Significant runoff might necessitate a little calming uphill of the tree - one rock dams, hedges, keylines - whatever works for your land. If there's a lot of runoff that would build up behind the berm, I would make it of soil, possibly even armor it with stones on the downhill side. Too much water too fast might blow out a woodchip berm (although I do like woodchip berms on very slightly sloped land).
Jennifer Wadsworth wrote:Are you planning a "boomerang berm" (crescent berm) just on the downhill slope of the tree?
Jennifer Wadsworth wrote:If your tree is mature, I would probably place the berm just inside the dripline as most of the feeder roots are at the dripline or beyond. Sediment will build up behind the berm over time, but again, probably not a big deal because its not right on the active part of the dripline.
John Elliott wrote:Blueberries?
I have some highbush blueberries on my back property line, in front of my neighbors' pecan grove. They get some sun, but not a whole lot, and they still put out a nice yield. They benefit from heavy mulching, like you will have with the berm.
Zach Muller wrote:Hey Tina, my entire garden is right along the drip line of a mature pecan, and oak, and it has been very productive so far. My closest swale is right on the drip line, and I dug down about a foot. There was some root disturbance as I dug my Swales, but nothing too crazy, maybe 3/4 of an inch thick. I used some well rotted wood and buried it with the excavated soil and then covered it with wood chips and green manure.
Within the drip line I have maintained a mixed planting of grasses, dandelion, wild flowers, yellow dock, comfrey, herbs, that will all be mowable before it is pecan harvest time. I have three Swales up slope from the pecan starting at the drip line and on the berms I have my dwarf fruit trees, legume trees, chop and drop trees, mulberries, blue berries, perennial herbs, strawberries, onions, lettuce, asparagus, tomatoes and a bunch of other things trying to establish( passion fruit and
Ground cherry among others)
About the full sun with blueberries, and other understory plants, to my observation it seems like sometimes people who are feeding a lot of fertilizer will suggest putting understory plants in full sun because for them it produces more fruits, but if you have an organic plant without excessive fertilizer it will be happier with partial sun. Just a thought, I am not sure.
Susan Pruitt wrote:Hey Tina - I have a .66 "sub-rural" lot too - love your pictures! I have 3 giant old pecan trees which lured me into buying this place which I've named "Peacewood" I wonder if I might divert this topic a bit (not sure how to organize my questions on this site in spite of trolling around here for two years - lol!
I've been working my tail off (literally and figuratively) for 2-1/2 years to amend my garden soil by mowing my pecan leaves and piling them on my vegetable garden, as well as in the compost pile. Recently a new, local permaculture friend mentioned to me that pecans are allelopaths. Well I'm panicking and have been searching the internet to learn more. I've found several several university horticulture articles that mention that pecan produces less juglone than walnut and lists landscaping plants that are sensitive, but I can't find anything about food plants. Not all of my vegetables thrived in the last two years but I'm sure for many reasons (new garden with poor soil, too much rain, not enough rain, not enough experience on my part)
It doesn't sound like you folks with pecan trees worry about this. Does "cooking" the leaves in the compost pile deactivate juglone? Mr. Elliott, I saw your message and knowing you're a student of plant biology I thought I'd ask
Susan in Greensboro
Oh, that sounds beautiful! How tall did you build the berm?
And, that makes sense about the blueberries. And, I'm not looking for the production levels that a commercial enterprise would require...enough for us is sufficient.
Queenie Hankinson wrote:Hydrangeas--can grow in either alkaline (above 7 pH) or acid (below 7 pH) soils--the blooms reflect the soil pH--blue means an acid soil and pink an alkaline soil. blue and pink means relatively neutral.
Queenie Hankinson wrote:ABOUT BLUEBERRIES. Blue berries are site specific. If you are having trouble with your blueberries one of the main reasons will be because your soil is too alkaline. Blueberries must have a very acidic soil to thrive (4 to 5 pH)
If you try to grow blue berries in alkaline soil they will either produce slowly or die off--unless a cultivar has been created to change this--blue berries tend to grow best near conifers. WHY? Because pine needles and other conifer needles are acidic.
Queenie Hankinson wrote:Simply put, if you ignore the pH requirements of your plants they will not thrive and may even die--you will be starving them to death. Blue berries can unlock the nutrients in soil at around 4 to 5 pH BUT they STARVE at higher pHs because they do not have the combination to unlock the nutrients at higher levels.
KNOW YOUR pH...... for sustainability, it is a MUST as is knowing your soil composition and nutritive value (what minerals are in it and at what levels)
Queenie Hankinson wrote:Ahhh so if acidity is not the problem or not all of the problem (pine needles should indeed help a lot) then we have to consider the other needs of blueberry shrubs.
Queenie Hankinson wrote:Moisture--blueberry bushes grow well in places where there is continual moisture but not waterlogged conditions which is why they are often on the shores of lakes and ponds in coniferous forests--are you ensuring continual moisture for the bllue berry soil ( sandy loam that is a bit damp at all times but will still clump into a knob of soil)
Queenie Hankinson wrote:Shade--blueberries are naturally an understory shrub or tree--they do best in partial shade instead of full sun--but this is misleading--in the North they like full sun BUT the further south you go, the less likely they can stand the amount of sun and heavy humidity. If your neighbor can grow the bushes but you can't--are you perhaps trying to grow yours with no protection from the sun?
Queenie Hankinson wrote:A great way to grow them is as an understory tree to a deciduous or conifer with light shade? Blueberries also tend to like growing near raspberry bushes. It may be worth while to move your blueberry bush to a limbed up conifer or deciduous tree with nice dappled sunlight and see that it gets morning sun and not too much afternoon or western sun. If you must give it western sun, make sure the roots stay moist at all times (but not wet) This will decrease the stress on the plant, you may try a berm of conifers with the blueberry nestled at the center (try 3 of them, they like company) and see what happens, also, if you are downhill of your neighbor's property, be sure he is not spraying and that is affecting your bush --if the acidity is transient, then make sure to check the pH and ensure that the soil drains well enough.
Queenie Hankinson wrote:A. Good acidic soil
B. adequate and continual moisture
C. dappled shade and shielding from too much western or afternoon sun in the South
Maybe this will help--
D. companion planting with raspberries or another plant to enhance the soil for the benefit of the blueberries. Also, pine is great for blueberries but some may not like juniper bush needles ...