Tiller question

Discussion in 'Back to Basics' started by KAS, Jul 28, 2014.

  1. HK_User

    HK_User A Productive Monkey is a Happy Monkey

    Forget the mesquite! You live where mesquite has many enemies, mostly of the chewing variety.
    In doubt? Cut up a 3 inch limb, stack it on the ground and in about 30 days you will see all the signs of insects, that being little mounds of saw dust at the entrance to their living quarters.
  2. Ganado

    Ganado Monkey+++

    @HK_User I am a little lost, not sure why you are saying forget the mesquite? because in a hugelkulter bed/mound insects are ok but mostly the wood is for long term nitrogen and water preservation under a load of dirt. Not using mesquite for building. Did I miss something in your comments?
  3. HK_User

    HK_User A Productive Monkey is a Happy Monkey

    The mesquite, when green/alive kills most insects, except for those above ground after it is dead, the mesquite also produces some toxins at a certain time of the year.

    Better would be yellow or white pine.

    Mesquite is one of the few trees that produces nitrogen in the soil but only while living.

    Mesquite is better used as the litter that collects from the dropping of leaves and pods.

    Mesquite and the Nitrogen Cycle http://uts.cc.utexas.edu/~gilbert/mesquite/nitrogencycle.html
    There are other reasons besides the lack of long term studies to suggest the "beneficial" hypothesis. The most important consideration is that of nitrogen, an abundant element in the atmosphere, but unavailable to most organisms unless first converted to nitrate (NO3) or ammonia (NH4). These compounds are both rare in soils of semi-arid regions. Nitrogen is both a major limiting factor to plant productivity, and a critical building block of beef protein. Thanks to studies initiated by IBP (International Biological Program) in arid regions, quantitative data are now available on the role of mesquite in the nitrogen cycle of semi-arid and arid regions of the southwestern United States. Initial studies of nutrient distribution have revealed significant accumulation of nitrogen and carbon under mesquite (Barth and Klemmedson (1978;1982)[Figure 1].
    Those of us who have long suspected a significant nitrogen fixing ability of mesquite based on the lushness and dark green color of grasses and other plants growing in mesquite clumps (Plate 3), have had suspicions confirmed. For example, the studies of Jarrell and colleagues (Rundel et al., 1982; Virginia et al., 1982; Virginia and Jarrell, 1983; Jarrell et al., 1983 in press); Nilsen et al., 1983 in press, and personal communication), in the Sonoran Desert have demonstrated that mesquite is nodulated (but at depth), that it does fix nitrogen, that nitrogen accumulates in the soil of the mesquite clump, especially as nitrate and at concentrations approaching well fertilized cropland (Table 1 below), and that the pool of soil nitrogen in the system (500 years of succession on a dry lake bed) can be accounted for as an accumulation of yearly increments due to mesquite fixation alone.

    Table 1. Total nitrogen, organic nitrogen, and nitrate nitrogen (NO3-N) in soil of a mesquite stand: Sonoran Desert of California vs. other systems. (from Nilsen et al., 1983, Table 4)
    Community NO3-N
    (g/m2) Total N
    (g/m2) %NO3-N
    under 253 1020 25
    between 53 160 34
    Conifer forest 0.2 450 0.04
    Grassland 0.01 352 0.01
    Mojave Desert 3 99 3
    Unfortunately we are almost totally ignorant of the quantitative or even qualitative details of the nitrogen cycle in the Tamaulipan biota of South Texas. However, we must consider woody legumes like mesquite as major contributors to the nitrogen pool upon which grass and ranching depends. Such a conclusion would certainly not be forthcoming from a cursory examination of freshly root-plowed mesquite. Typically, no nodules are to be seen. But on reflection that should be expected. Nodulation is inhibited by the high nitrate levels around older trees (is this one reason seedling mesquites are rare near parent trees?) and probably by the dry surface conditions. Indeed, in the Sonoran Desert, Jarrell's group found few or no nodules until the water table was reached. Mesquite is deeply rooted (up to 53m or 172ft[!]; Phillips, 1963) and is therefore green and productive of new nitrogen even during drought (Nilsen et al., 1983). Mesquite nitrogen, also fixed when grasses are abundant, becomes available later as mesquite litter is decomposed. I should also emphasize the role of such deeply rooted plants in bringing other nutrients to the surface.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 10, 2016
    Ganado likes this.
  4. zombierspndr

    zombierspndr Monkey

    Hugelkultur doesn't care what kind of wood is used, with a few exceptions. The entire point of using wood is that it slowly decomposes. You can even use wood chips...they'll just decompose faster. Mesquite in a desert is a pioneer species though, so it may be better to leave them in place. Mesquite is also not the only nitrogen fixer...almost all leguminous species are. I don't think it's what is referred to as a dynamic accumulator though.

  5. HK_User

    HK_User A Productive Monkey is a Happy Monkey

    To recap and better explain the life cycle of Mesquite as a compost material.

    1. Only living Mesquites should be harvested for a compost material.
    Reason, Agent Orange was used in your area until sometime in the early 80s by ranchers and many of those stands are still in place as dead trees.

    2. Harvest only the limbs, shred the limbs and leave in place on the surface, add grass clippings or other nitrogen if available. In 6 months or so when all the surface insects have reduced most of the wood to holes or sawdust then use as a mulch or compost.

    3. Never use the trunks unless they are shredded to a pulp. The trunks have an ability to resist rot and bug infestation when left above the surface and even below the surface they still resist absorbing water and bugs. I suppose it is a natural preservative and toxin which combines.

    Later today I will provide pictures of the two pieces of a stump that I cut down after it was dead and in place for 3 or more years. The two pieces were then moved to a ravine, left in the muck and shade to rot. Now, setting in the Front End Loader Bucket, you will see that they are in fine shape for their age. I just retrieved the Mesquite pieces and will section them for knife scales. The Burl will also be harvested soon for more Mesquite trinkets.
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2016
    Ganado, oldawg and kellory like this.
  6. HK_User

    HK_User A Productive Monkey is a Happy Monkey

    Last edited: Apr 10, 2016
survivalmonkey SSL seal        survivalmonkey.com warrant canary