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Re: CULT: Mulch, roots, crazy irises, & walnut trees

  • Subject: Re: CULT: Mulch, roots, crazy irises, & walnut trees
  • From: Linda Mann <lmann@icx.net>
  • Date: Tue, 07 Aug 2001 09:38:40 -0400

<Now why would ground up liquidambar roots make the iris go crazy?

Debi, I assume your irises were growing 'ok' before you ground up the
sweetgum stump.  I figure several things probably helped your irises go
nuts - decomposing tree roots leave a huge network of voids - nice cool
channels full of decomposing organic matter that not only let rainfall
rapidly infiltrate, but also make nice compost pockets for worms & iris
roots.  Tree roots tend to be mostly at the surface, where they were
mostly shredded (?), but trees also have deep roots, just as many
cultivars of irises have lots of feeder roots near the surface, but some
deeeeep roots.

The best growth I've ever seen on any irises here was in some
uncompacted, backfilled, high in organic matter, gravelly loam, that was
about 3 or 4 ft deep.  Bill Shear has often commented on how most
bearded irises evolved in disturbed environments & are therefore well
adapted to exploit disturbances.  I think they REALLY go nuts over deep,
loose soil.  & while your ground up sweetgum (Liquidambar {not ...er}
styraciflua) stump maybe didn't provide those conditions, the rotting
deeper tree roots would have.  Maybe, perhaps, sort of....

Also, sweetgum bark & fine roots probably added a nice dose of nutrients
to the compost.  Add a little nitrogen, and yummy.

Linda Mann east Tennessee USA zone 7/8
finally cool enough to putter around outdoors a bit this AM

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