Step 9 – Feed Plants in fall to stimulate Root Growth.
The root of a plant is the part that has no leaves or buds and usually spreads underground, anchoring the plant and absorbing water and nutrients from the soil. The root is essential to all of the plants life functions. Its strength is the strength of the plant.
I have found one of the greatest ways to increase root mass is to feed my plants with organic fertilizers in late fall. After the last clean up of leaves in the fall I always recommend to my customers that they fertilize there plants with an organic fertilizer and cover them with organic mulches. Top growth goes dormant during the winter months but roots continue to grow. Building up root systems is the key to sustainability, to developing a good food web and for a plants ability to extract larger amounts of CO2 from the air. During the growing season a plant concentrates on top growth. When a plant goes dormant it continues to grow roots. Rapid growth in the spring can exceed root growth so it is important to always have a deep root system to support your plant.
The food web thrives on deep root systems. It is what perpetuates sustainability in our soils. It is always the soil that makes the difference.
The rhizosphere is where it all takes place. It is an area of interaction between the roots of the plants, the exudates” they produce and the microbial life in the soil that they attract. The exudates fuel bacterial and fungal reproduction. Bacteria and fungi are food for nematodes protozoa and other larger microbial life. They eat bacteria and fungi primarily for carbon. They poop excess out as wastes in the root zone. The wastes are filled with rich nutrients that are easily absorbed by the roots of the plant. This is a circulating system that is set up by nature that works for us day and night. It is a miraculous system that creates sustainability. I have always considered the roots to be the brains, the plant to be the one in control and the sun, wind and rain to be part of the living and breathing mix. Everything in nature is connected. Every part of nature plays an important role. When we follow a sustainable organic approach, nature will also clean up the pollutants that we pour into our air. It is a process of plant life that is called photosynthesis utilizing CO2 and converting into Oxygen. When you start to understand all of the things nature does, it is mind boggling. The sad part is that we keep messing nature up by our actions when we could so easily do things that could help her.
Poor root growth creates many problems. Hurricane Sandy on the east coast toppled many trees that crashed into houses. The damage was devastating. The root structure on many of these big trees was shallow. Those with deep root systems stood up to the storm. When roots penetrate deeply, it is difficult to blow over a tree. I always marvel at trees on the side of a mountain constantly taking the punishment of strong winds. They stand up in defiance to all of the elements. To survive they have to build up a very deep strong root system.
Nature’s ways are amazing. I remember planting a large shade tree for a customer to provide shade off of their deck. The tree had to be large to create shade and when it was staked but slightly swayed in the breeze it freaked the homeowner out. We were called back several times to make sure we staked it so it would not move. Trees growing on the side of a mountain constantly sway back and forth and this sends down signals to the roots to increase and deepen its root structure. The roots become so deep and so strong that the branches and trunk would snap off before the tree would be uprooted. The tree we planted died and it died because it did not develop a deep root system. It did not develop a deep root system because the top of the plant could not sway and signal to develop a deep root system. Plants do have ways to signal other parts of the plant to do what they need to do to survive. Some would consider this as a plant talking to its other parts. Nature always has an answer and a way to solve its problem; it is man that messes it up. On the west coast where houses on the side of a cliff are falling into the ocean it may be difficult to get plants to take hold in these difficult areas but when they do they bind things together by developing a deep root system. A root system that penetrates deeply into the side of the cliff binds together with the soil and holds on for dear life. These plants are the key to saving life and preventing our soils eroding into the ocean.
We need to work with nature and she will work for us. We need to develop deep root systems to sustain the life of the plant and to extract carbon dioxide out of the air. It is revealing to me that it is good organic gardening practices that are the key to global warming reversal. We need to constantly do things that will support the natural way to grow plants. In turn the plants will do what they are so good at doing breathing in carbon and breathing out oxygen.