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Mulch (a Key Component To Growing In The Tropics)


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hi i'm new to this gardening lark having been an engineer for 50 yrs.

i read some were that mango leaves are not good to use in compost, what views do you esteemed gardeners have on this

 

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I've never heard that. You don't remember your source? It would be interesting to know why. 
sorry cannot find the web site
just spoke ( via translation from she who must be obeyed) to the local mango man and he said its the fruit skin that contains a toxin but its OK to use the leaves and fallen fruit as mulch.

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54 minutes ago, longgone said:

sorry cannot find the web site
just spoke ( via translation from she who must be obeyed) to the local mango man and he said its the fruit skin that contains a toxin but its OK to use the leaves and fallen fruit as mulch.

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It's possible, walnut leaves will keep mice away but also help prevent the growth of competing plants, googling seems to indicate similar results for mango.

https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=30732

I didn't know that.

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Tough and shiny leaves take longer to break down but even banana leaves (full of anti-microbials) will decompose given a good mixture of materials. The answer for compost is C to N ratio, aeration, moisture content and the right microbes. In the case of mulch for the most "stubborn" stuff, try reducing the particle size and prewilting before application. A full banana leave is an umbrella not a mulch. 

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Tough and shiny leaves take longer to break down but even banana leaves (full of anti-microbials) will decompose given a good mixture of materials. The answer for compost is C to N ratio, aeration, moisture content and the right microbes. In the case of mulch for the most "stubborn" stuff, try reducing the particle size and prewilting before application. A full banana leave is an umbrella not a mulch. 


Thanks to all for the info.
I am about to make a shredder so will let you know how it goes

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On 10/03/2018 at 2:48 PM, longgone said:


 

 


Thanks to all for the info.
I am about to make a shredder so will let you know how it goes

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a

 

 

Go for it , my shredder was made by a local one-man band, and his mate it works well, a bit rough around the edges.

A lot has been posted on here about chipper /shredders ,a good few companies in Thailand make them, have a look at TV history ,a shop near me sells them, with a 7hp petrol engine about 25 000 baht.

.  Sorghum is a good feed for cattle, but young plants contains hydrogen cyanide poisonous if cattle eat a large amount, but when made into silage the toxins will be destroyed, due to the ph dropping in the fermentation prosses, making it safe for cattle to eat. 

So, as for  the toxins in mango leaves,as IA said to get the compost mix  right  and , with the composting  prosses the toxins should be  destroyed, 

 

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On 3/10/2018 at 1:43 PM, IsaanAussie said:

Tough and shiny leaves take longer to break down but even banana leaves (full of anti-microbials) will decompose given a good mixture of materials. The answer for compost is C to N ratio, aeration, moisture content and the right microbes. In the case of mulch for the most "stubborn" stuff, try reducing the particle size and prewilting before application. A full banana leave is an umbrella not a mulch. 

But don't underestimate the value of those "umbrellas", they temporarily fulfill some of the functions of a proper mulch, by suppressing competing weed growth and retaining soil moisture. Within a week the banana leaves start to shrivel and become part of the underlying, decomposing mulch layer. 

 

When I take out a culm, after fruiting or to thin the clump, I dump the cut stem parts under the remaining plants and put the leaves over it all. I find it to be a good mulching process.

 

In my opinion, it is always best to mulch with the parent plant material. It's natures way, that the leaf litter and fallen branches decompose and replenish the actual minerals that the plant took up from the soil for growth. 

image1.jpeg

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  • 6 months later...
19 hours ago, Thian said:

I read that it's better to clean up mangoleaves against pests and diseases. You'll harvest more mango's without leaves all over the place.

I disagree and think the information is incomplete, What's the context of that recommendation?  What specific pests and diseases is the author referring to, and what other factors in the soil and water management and IPM practices might have been better done to address pest and disease suppression.  

 

To me it's like saying don't drink water because it could be contaminated with some bad stuff.  Water is important and so is leaf litter mulch. You can get clean water with a little effort, and If a grower bothers to study the IPM for the plants and products he/she is working with, he may find a way to keep the mulch and all the amazing benefits, while suppressing the diseases or pests he was blindly afraid of allowing habitat.  

 

Leaf litter mulch is free soil organic matter input, and it enhances conditions for beneficial soil organisms, soil moisture retention, weed suppression,  and therefore conserves expenses for fertilization, irrigation, weed control.  Fertile soil has built in biology for suppression of soil borne pathogens, and it supports plant nutrition that builds plant resistance to pests and diseases. And then, with that basic framework of soil fertility and water management (avoiding drought stress that makes trees susceptible to pests and diseases, or avoiding over-watering and root rot), you have a good start.  Then by regular monitoring and identifying what disease or pest is present and is causing or is likely to cause problems, you can more intelligently and effectively target that issue with management practices or specific bio-pesticides if needed.  

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28 minutes ago, drtreelove said:

I disagree and think the information is incomplete, What's the context of that recommendation?  What specific pests and diseases is the author referring to, and what other factors in the soil and water management and IPM practices might have been better done to address pest and disease suppression.  

 

To me it's like saying don't drink water because it could be contaminated with some bad stuff.  Water is important and so is leaf litter mulch. You can get clean water with a little effort, and If a grower bothers to study the IPM for the plants and products he/she is working with, he may find a way to keep the mulch and all the amazing benefits, while suppressing the diseases or pests he was blindly afraid of allowing habitat.  

 

Leaf litter mulch is free soil organic matter input, and it enhances conditions for beneficial soil organisms, soil moisture retention, weed suppression,  and therefore conserves expenses for fertilization, irrigation, weed control.  Fertile soil has built in biology for suppression of soil borne pathogens, and it supports plant nutrition that builds plant resistance to pests and diseases. And then, with that basic framework of soil fertility and water management (avoiding drought stress that makes trees susceptible to pests and diseases, or avoiding over-watering and root rot), you have a good start.  Then by regular monitoring and identifying what disease or pest is present and is causing or is likely to cause problems, you can more intelligently and effectively target that issue with management practices or specific bio-pesticides if needed.  

Collecting the leaves is to prevent the crop from getting attacked by the typical mangodiseases.

 

So you don't have to spray copper or sulfur or see your mango's getting ruined.

 

The pathogens live in the old leaves on the ground and will infect the tree next season.

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1 hour ago, Thian said:

Collecting the leaves is to prevent the crop from getting attacked by the typical mangodiseases.

 

So you don't have to spray copper or sulfur or see your mango's getting ruined.

 

The pathogens live in the old leaves on the ground and will infect the tree next season.

If copper and sulfur fungicides are the only management tools that you have for disease control then sure, you better dispose of your infected leaf litter.  But I'm just saying that a more comprehesive IPM program is worth considering and will pay off .  "Typical mango diseases" are not universal.  If you don't irrigate adequately could be one reason for susceptibility.  My mango orchard didn't have leaf or fruit fungal or bacterial diseases and I never did any fungicide spraying, if I did it would be with biofungicide.   IPM has a big tool box full of good management alternatives and yes sanitation is one of them. But I would spray the leaf litter with EM biofungicide before I would consider removing it.  

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3 hours ago, drtreelove said:

If copper and sulfur fungicides are the only management tools that you have for disease control then sure, you better dispose of your infected leaf litter.  But I'm just saying that a more comprehesive IPM program is worth considering and will pay off .  "Typical mango diseases" are not universal.  If you don't irrigate adequately could be one reason for susceptibility.  My mango orchard didn't have leaf or fruit fungal or bacterial diseases and I never did any fungicide spraying, if I did it would be with biofungicide.   IPM has a big tool box full of good management alternatives and yes sanitation is one of them. But I would spray the leaf litter with EM biofungicide before I would consider removing it.  

My mangotree (consisting out of 25 different grafted varieties) didn't give much fruit, i had all the mangodiseases one can imagine. I sprayed for a while but got tired of that. After cleaning the litter the next year i got more fruit.

 

I culled that mangotree though, it still didn't give enough fruit for the space it was using.

 

It's the same for durian in thailand, the professionals claim that the tree's can't get organic fertilizers because it might kill the tree's by fungus in the soil. They give them loads of chemical ferts. My duriantree keeps all leaves and even gets extra litter...it's still alive and looks good.

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Sorry but your "professionals" have mislead you. If your soil already has the nasties, or any organic fertiliser you add contain bacterial and fungus microbes that might damage the tree then that is what will happen. But the biology in an appropriate organic fertiliser will protect the tree and will out-compete and eliminate the bad stuff that exists in the soil. Chemical fertiliser will not change the plight of the tree. 

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Not that this has anything to do with it but mango leaves can kill grazing livestock and chickens, and also inhibit the growth of other plants (" Dried mango leaf powder completely inhibited sprouting of purple nutsedge tubers.").

 

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On 9/22/2018 at 10:03 AM, IsaanAussie said:

Sorry but your "professionals" have mislead you. If your soil already has the nasties, or any organic fertiliser you add contain bacterial and fungus microbes that might damage the tree then that is what will happen. But the biology in an appropriate organic fertiliser will protect the tree and will out-compete and eliminate the bad stuff that exists in the soil. Chemical fertiliser will not change the plight of the tree. 

This is an important point and one that is gaining much acceptance and popularity now, and a phenomenal amount of R&D for specific strains of  biologial fungicides-bactericides and insecticides .  This concept and a variety of cultured materials has been  used for a long time, with actively aerated compost tea and EM Japanese technology products, for soil and foliar applications being the most well known.  Biological fungicides work in an entirely different way than chemical fungicides.  Out-compete is a good term. They colonize (grow on the leaf surface or root surface) and put up a protective barrier against pathogenic organisms.  Some will invade existing diseased tissue in early stages and suppress the advance of the pathogen.

 

Some products that I have used for successful tree and landscape disease prevention and suppression in the US: 

Actinovate AG (Streptomyces lydicus)

Companion (Bacillus subtilis GB03): Biological fungicide.

Double NickelOG 55 and LC (Bacillus amyloliquefaciens): Microbial fungicide.

 

I have seen something similar to this in Thailand with a strain of Trichoderma as the activel ingredient. 

RootShield GranulesOG (Trichoderma harzianum Strain T-22): Biological soil treatment.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trichoderma_harzianum

 

I have also seen Beauveria bassiana, a biological insecticide. (This is the biological control agent fungus that controls coconut rhinoceros beetle larvae in wood waste an compost.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beauveria_bassiana

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  • 3 months later...

I'm sat watching the leaves fall from the rubber trees and thinking 'mulch'. I'm not going to miss out this year. Another month and I'll be getting the rake out.

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  • 3 weeks later...
3 hours ago, baansgr said:

Any ideas for about 30sqm of garden.  Pebbles/gravel no good as have kids and may pick up and throw. Cheap as possible as is rented house.  

1) discipline your kids

2) grass

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On 1/12/2019 at 3:33 PM, baansgr said:

Any ideas for about 30sqm of garden.  Pebbles/gravel no good as have kids and may pick up and throw. Cheap as possible as is rented house.  

Go grab a bale of rice straw somewhere, maybe pay for it. That'll be enough for your garden.

Edited by cooked
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  • 5 months later...
  • 1 year later...

The word 'mulch' is a strange one. Looking into the etymology shows that it's been around for a long time:

mulch (n.)

"strawy dung, loose earth, leaves, etc., spread on the ground to protect shoots or newly planted shrubs," 1650s, probably a noun use of Middle English molsh (adj.) "soft, moist" (mid-15c.), from Old English melsc, milisc "mellow, sweet," from Proto-Germanic *mil-sk- (source also of Dutch mals "soft, ripe," Old High German molawen "to become soft," German mollig "soft"), from PIE root *mel- (1) "soft."

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4 hours ago, cooked said:

The word 'mulch' is a strange one. Looking into the etymology shows that it's been around for a long time:

mulch (n.)

"strawy dung, loose earth, leaves, etc., spread on the ground to protect shoots or newly planted shrubs," 1650s, probably a noun use of Middle English molsh (adj.) "soft, moist" (mid-15c.), from Old English melsc, milisc "mellow, sweet," from Proto-Germanic *mil-sk- (source also of Dutch mals "soft, ripe," Old High German molawen "to become soft," German mollig "soft"), from PIE root *mel- (1) "soft."

"Soft, moist, mellow, sweet, strawy dung."   I like that! 

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  • 6 months later...

In the coming days we're having 40 bales of rice straw delivered (40/bale plus 300 for delivery), which we then use as mulch on the grow beds and around the trees. 

Before I lay the straw, is there anything I need to do/prepare? 

This'll be the 2nd such mulching they've gotten in 2 - 2.5 years. 

 

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2 hours ago, djayz said:

In the coming days we're having 40 bales of rice straw delivered (40/bale plus 300 for delivery), which we then use as mulch on the grow beds and around the trees. 

Before I lay the straw, is there anything I need to do/prepare? 

This'll be the 2nd such mulching they've gotten in 2 - 2.5 years. 

 

Apply soil amendments and irrigate well before laying the mulch. 

 

Have you done soil analysis/lab testing and received an Rx for mineral amendments based on actual nutrient deficiencies found?

If not, you're working blind, but you could add a general purpose fertility blend, like OrganicTotto bokashi fertilzer. 

This is a COF (complete organic fertilizer) enhanced with beneficial microbial inoculants, based on the Japanese EM technology pioneered by Dr Higa. 

EM-1 - Effective Microorganisms Evil Anaerobic Microbes or Ultimate Good Guys (the-compost-gardener.com)

 

https://www.nanagarden.com/product/114529

 

The ―Fertile Mulching Method for Established Orchards, Vineyards, and other Perennials: Apply the recommended amendment/fertility mix to the area under the plant‘s canopy, out to and a bit beyond the drip line. Wet the whole area down well, to wash the amendments into the soil. On top of this spread ½ inch of quality compost. Wet that down well, then cover the area with 3" of mulch such as straw or ground bark. The feeder roots of the plant will grow up into the newly fertilized zone. When you wish to apply more fertilizer, rake the top part of the mulch back out of the way, being careful not to damage new feeder roots, apply the new amendments, then rake the mulch back into place. If rock or clay phosphate have been recommended, it is a good idea to aerate the soil out to the dripline, using a tapered-point digging bar to poke a number of holes about 4" deep. Then spread the phosphate and other amendments and irrigate well before mulching. If time and labor are available, the fertility mix may be poured directly into the holes. This will help get the usually immobile phosphate deeper into the soil. A plug-cutting aerator such as is used for lawns will also work. Keep the mulch damp during the growing season if possible. This method works great for re-vitalizing aging fruit trees.

Source: The Ideal Soil: Handbook for the New Agriculture by Michael Astera 

 

The Fizz Test: A simple way to determine if a soil has an excess of base cations that could be extracted by the soil testing solution and cause error in estimating CEC is to pour a small amount of ordinary household vinegar on a sample of dry soil. If the soil fizzes and bubbles, there are excess cations and the soil will need another test in addition to the Mehlich 3 test in order to accurately measure exchangeable bases. Most soils below pH 7 will not fizz or bubble, but some soils, especially calcareous sands which are often used on golf courses, can have an overall pH below 7 and still have undissolved limestone particles.

 

https://growabundant.com/how-to-do-a-fizz-test/

Edited by drtreelove
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10 hours ago, drtreelove said:

Have you done soil analysis/lab testing and received an Rx for mineral amendments based on actual nutrient deficiencies found?

No, never. Any suggestions as to where I could get this done in Korat, Isan OR Bangkok?

 

Because of time constraints, I'll have to go with the organic toto bokashi fertilizer option and have a test done at a later date. 

 

Thank you Dr. Treelove. Your contributions to this, and otherthreads, is much appreciated.

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13 hours ago, djayz said:

No, never. Any suggestions as to where I could get this done in Korat, Isan OR Bangkok?

 

Because of time constraints, I'll have to go with the organic toto bokashi fertilizer option and have a test done at a later date. 

 

Thank you Dr. Treelove. Your contributions to this, and otherthreads, is much appreciated.

Thanks for note of appreciation. 

 

Soil testing could be a big subject for discussion, because there are different systems and goals, and there are controversies. 

 

There is soil testing available at the ag universities (soil science department), and through Central Laboratories. I've used CMU and MaeJo U in Chiang Mai, and there is Kasetsart U in Bangkok. But they follow a system that only tests for a select list of nutients that are important for yield and the economics of chemical crop production.  The system that I prefer and whole-heartedly believe in, is the High Nutrient Density model that tests for a more complete range of plant nutrients, and also addresses not only deficiencies, but imbalances, like the all-important Calcium and Magnesium relationship, Cation Exchange Capacity, micronutrients and trace elements and their importance for plant health, product quality and resistance to pests and diseases. 

 

I only know of labs in the US and in Australia that follow this, like Logan and Brookside Labs in the US and Australian Graeme Sait's Nutri-Tech Solutions.  Bonemeal.net in Thailand is now, offering soil testing in line with The Ideal Soil system, (book by Michael Astera). 

 

The COF option is good for starters, like you say for expediency, to get some complete plant nutrition into the soil, while you plan and budget for soil testing and prescription recommendations for amendments. 

 

The OrganicTotto fertilizer is one option and a good example of a Complete Organic Fertilizer. Look at the ingredients and decide if you want to try and make your own, but it is challenging to source all the individual materials and to make a blend with the right proportions. 

 

The Intelligent Gardener by Steve Solomon has a chapter on COF.  Hands On Agronomy by Neal Kinsey and The Biological Farmer by Gary Zimmer advocate for the soil test based system for larger scale farming. 

 

 

Edited by drtreelove
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  • 1 month later...

Finally finished weeding and mulching my second grow bed today with rice straw, which got me thinking about this thread again. 

A few questions: I just spread the straw over the beds. Should I shred it first or does it even make a difference? I know that the smaller the particles, the quicker it breaks down. 

Also, after looking at the video clip shared by DrTreelove back in July 2019, I noticed Mark talked about "sugar cane bales", when I realized that I've never seen this in Thailand. Have you? 

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