Orchard People

Learn how to turn fermented plant juice, eggshells and other locally sourced materials into effective fruit tree fertilizers with Nigel Palmer, author of The Regenerative Grower's Guide to Garden Amendments: Using locally sourced materials to make mineral and biological extracts and ferments.

If you listen to the show live, you can enter our contest to win a copy of Nigel's book valued at $22.99.

Learn more about Nigel, his online course offerings and his work here.

The host of The Urban Forestry Radio Show and Podcast is Susan Poizner of the fruit tree care education website www.orchardpeople.com.  Tune into The Urban Forestry Radio Show LIVE by going to RealityRadio101.com on the last Tuesday of every month at 1.00 pm Eastern Time.

Learn to grow organic fruit trees successfully. Sign up for OrchardPeople.com's premium online courses at https://learn.orchardpeople.com/

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Creators & Guests

Host
Susan Poizner
Author, fruit tree educator, and Creator of the award-winning fruit tree care education website OrchardPeople.com.

What is Orchard People?

Learn how to grow and care for fruit trees with fruit tree care educator Susan Poizner of OrchardPeople.com. Discover how to create permaculture plantings, food forests, and forest gardens in both urban and rural settings. Meet experts on all aspects of comprehensive fruit tree care, including pruning, pest and disease prevention, fruit tree grafting and budding, and soil management.

Show host Susan Poizner, creator of the fruit tree education website OrchardPeople.com, is an award-winning author of three fruit tree care books and an ISA Certified Arborist. This podcast is the winner of the 2021 GardenComm Silver Award of Achievement for Broadcast Media: Radio Program Overall. Learn more and access archived episodes at https://podcast.orchardpeople.com/.

Learn more about Susan's books and courses at https://learn.orchardpeople.com/books.

The following program does not necessarily represent the views and opinions of reality Radio 1 0 1. Its advertisers and sponsors, or its listening. Audience listener discretion is advised.
Welcome to the Urban Forestry Radio Show here on Reality Radio 1 0 1. In this radio show and podcast, we learn about fruit trees, permaculture, arboriculture, and so much more. So if you love trees and especially fruit trees, or if you're interested in living a more sustainable life, then this is the place for you.
I'm your host, Susan Poizner of the Fruit Tree Care training website, orchard people.com. Thanks for tuning in and enjoy the show.
Welcome to the Urban Forestry Radio Show with your host Susan Poizner. To contact Susan Live right now, send her an email in studio101@gmail.com,
and now right to your host of the Urban Forestry Radio Show, Susan
Poizner. Hi everyone. When we plant fruit trees, we often take more nutrients from the soil than we give back, especially if we're using synthetic fertilizers and harmful can chemicals to protect the trees, but there is a growing movement that challenges that notion.
Imagine a bit of a different approach. What if we could actually improve the soil while growing fruit trees? This is the idea behind that term, regenerative agriculture and experts believe it is possible. So in today's episode of the Urban Forestry Radio Show and podcast, I'm going to talk to Nigel Palmer.
Nigel is the author of a book called The Regenerative Grower's Guide to Garden Amendments, and in his fantastic book, Nigel Explains how to use inexpensive and locally sourced materials to make natural fertilizers and protective sprays for your fruit trees and other plants. And I'm gonna talk to Nigel in just a moment, but first, I would love to hear from you, send in your questions or your comments, or just email us to say hello and we will enter you into today's contest.
And this month's prize is a copy of Nigel's book, the Regenerative Grower's Guide to Garden Amendments, using locally sourced materials to make mineral and biological extracts and ferments. And it's valued at 24 95. So are you ready? You can enter today's contest just by sending an email right now to in studio101@gmail.com.
That's in studio 1 0 1 gmail.com. And of course, remember to include your first name and where you're writing from. I look forward to hearing from you. So Nigel, welcome to the show today. Thank you so much. It's awesome to have you here and I love your book. It's a wonderful book. But my first question is for you, what is Regenerative agriculture?
After all, that's the name of your book, the Regenerative Regenerative Growers Guide to Garden Amendments.
Sure. Well, that's a big question We could spend the next couple days talking about that, I would imagine. Um, so regenerative is a, is a word that means to try and make things better. And that's basically what's going on is we're trying to improve the soil and make it better.
Um, and there's many ways to do that. Unfortunately, regenerative has been co-opted very similar to other agricultural words like organic for instance. And so it means many different things to many different people and is becoming more of a buzzword than, um, what it actually might mean to the soil and to us.
So in terms of what it means for you, um, what are some of the, uh, what are some of the considerations involved when you think of regenerative agriculture?
Well, so when I start to grow something, plant something, I'm starting off with the soil in a certain condition. And like most people who grow, um, my soil is not optimal.
It. It may be short of certain minerals, it may have excesses, it might be short of organic matter. Um, it may be low on biological activity, maybe all of the above. And so my goal when I start to plant something is to make sure that in the process of planting and harvesting, that that soil is going to be in better shape next year than it is this year.
And I do that by adding a, a variety of minerals that I obtain for free. And by adding biology, which I u make and use, uh, uh, from my backyard. Um, and so, and also add organic matter to make sure that there's a, a mulch or a compound compost or, uh, um, the residue from the plant itself, um, always goes into the soil.
I never take any plants out of the soil area. Uh, mother nature works very hard to grow plants and root structure and the stuff above the ground. And so I wanna make sure all of that goes back into the soil, um, and doesn't leave. So the idea of weeding and taking those weeds and removing them in some other place is sacrilege for me.
And so all of these ideas are regenerating the soil. They're making the soil more carbon rich, more biologically active, and more mineral diverse in proportions that plants might want.
Okay, so we're talking today about making, uh, d i y do it yourself, regenerative fruit tree amendments. To improve the health of our trees.
So how are these amendments, uh, which are often foliar sprays? How on earth are they gonna help make things better?
Well, so if we talk about foliar sprays for instance, um, and mineral content and, and, and things like that, um, the, the obvious notion is that if I have peaches, which I love, I love growing peaches, they taste really good.
Nothing better than a peach, than the juice dripping off your elbow in the heat of August anyway, um, so I'll take those peaches that, uh, aren't quite perfect, um, and I'll make a fermented plant juice from those peaches. And, uh, so now, um, I have a liquid that's shelf stable and um, is available for me to feed that peach tree throughout the growing season.
Um, I've actually done analysis on the mineral amendments that I make. So I've shown that all 18 minerals that. People think that plants want are in these fermented plant juices, and they're in proportions that plants want because they're made from, in this particular instance, a peach fruit. And so when I'm foliar spraying these minerals onto my peach tree, I know that it's getting the compliment of minerals that that peach tree wants because it's coming from a peach in nature.
That's what happens. The peach would fall on the ground and that seed, that pit would be nurtured by the peach. So this is by definition, using nature's model as a way of nurturing that tree using itself to do so.
That's an incredible idea and it makes total sense at first. I'm thinking isn't that sort of like cannibalism, you're feeding the, the peach with its own sort of baby, but I guess like you say, the peach would fall, it would decompose.
Um, we have a comment here. Our, uh, question here from Lisa. Lisa says, looking forward to the program, but getting my entry in pronto sounds like an interesting book. Okay, Lisa, we've entered you into the contest. That's wonderful. Yeah. Okay. So the sprays will, uh, provide the tree, uh, with nourishment with the minerals that it needs.
You also talked about the role that, um, the biology and the soil plays. So how would spraying the trees also help the soil or will it help the soil?
Oh, that's a lovely question. Thanks so much for asking that one. Um, The wonderful thing about foliar spraying is we are feeding the plant through the leaves, and by doing so, we're taking advantage of the flow flow of the plant, the sap flow of the plant that flows from the leaves.
To the sinks. And sinks are those areas that are important to the plant. There's the new shoots that grow out extending the leaves from to increased photosynthesis. There's the root tips, which are searching in the ground to get nutrients, and then there's the fruit itself and the seed, the reproductive portion of the plant.
But what's often overlooked and not maybe understood by many people is that the flow and flow also feeds the soil biology. The plant actually exudes nutrients through the roots, uh, that feeds specific biology. The plant is actually selecting the biology that it wants to nurture through this root exudate.
And so by foliar spraying and feeding the leaves, we're actually feeding not only the important parts of the plant, but we're also feeding the soil biology.
So that's incredible. Just with this one act, which is, and I've done foliar spraying, not difficult. You are feeding the tree, you are nourishing the soil, and hopefully leaving the whole system in a better state than it was before.
So that is awesome. Now, what about, let's think about seasonally. Does it matter what you feed the tree? When, like, does, uh, is there different foods that a tree needs at different times of year?
Well, for sure, um, just like, uh, um, human beings throughout the development of a human being, the nutrition that a human wants at birth through the first couple years is different than the teenage years during different, during reproduction and different during senescence, if you will.
And so the same is true for plants in the ground, um, and seasonally for, uh, fruit trees, specifically as they go through their, uh, reproduction type of processes. And, um, it doesn't take much to realize and learn about the need for phosphorus during fruiting and the need for calcium during fruit filling, sorry, phosphorus during flowering and calcium, during fruit filling.
And so, um, a couple of the products that people can make at home for just about free are vinegar, extractions of egg shells or oyster shells. Um, and these will produce high levels of calcium. Again, you can look at the analysis that I've conducted and you can see, uh, really, really high levels, like thousands of part per million calcium, um, in these products.
And if you make ver uh, vinegar, extractions of bones, uh, cow bones, you can. Realize high amounts of phosphorus. And so during the fruit, the flowering phase of, uh, uh, reproduction for a fruit tree, spraying vinegar, extractions of cow bones to get that high phosphorus level perhaps along with the fermented plant use of the peach if you're having to do in peach trees, gives it a broad spectrum of minerals that it needs, plus that extra amount of phosphorus to facilitate flowering of those trees.
And then once flowering has commenced and you've got fruit filling, now you can use the, uh, vinegar extractions of, uh, eggshells or oyster shells, for instance, um, in order to get that higher level of calcium, uh, in order to fill fruit. And this is true for, uh, tomatoes or, or any other plant as well.
Amazing. Okay, so let's, let's break down what you said. We're talking about the season. Throughout the season, our fruit trees will have different needs for different minerals, so that's great and that's clear. Now you talk about, um, vinegar extractions, which sounds super scary. Oh my gosh, how do I buy or get or make a vinegar extraction?
So tell us a little bit about how that works.
Well, um, so again, the premise here is not only regeneration, but it's also sustainability. And the idea that most of us throw our eggshells away at best, put them on the compost pile is a, a is an idea of sustainability. Well, we can also take those eggshells and we can simply cook them and put them in apple cider vinegar or organic apple cider vinegar, which you can make yourself if you have an apple tree by.
Nearby. And then the weak acids in the vinegar will extract minerals from that egg shell or oyster shell or shrimp shell, or a cow bone, or a pig bone, uh, whatever it might be. And so this leaching process will give you, uh, uh, um, an extract that's shell stable. And by the way, we're gonna be diluting these extracts by, uh, uh, 500 or a thousand to one.
So that one quart of vinegar extraction you're gonna make is good for about 125 gallons of, of amendment. So, um, they're very, quite simple and in fact, I argue that you can manufacture, uh, these vinegar extractions or these fermented plant juice in less time than it takes you to get in your car, drive to wherever that is, that you think you're gonna buy that stuff and then figure out what it is and bring it home.
You can be done and make it. And so you've not paid for the gas to go to the store. The packaging cost, the manufacturing cost, the human cost of all of those products, um, to make, uh, uh, something simple in your backyard, uh, by closing waste gaps.
Fantastic. Okay. Quick question from Jane. Thank you, Jane. Jane writes, hello, Susan and Nigel are Nigel's workshops in person or online?
Thank you. And, uh, Jane is from St. Catherine's, Ontario, so she has obviously checked out your website, which of course you can share right now. And tell us a little bit about your workshops. I.
Sure. Um, I'm not sure what my website is, but it's Nigel Palmer, something like that. Um, but my workshops, I, I do offer an online workshop and I've done that for several years now.
And I decided to go with an online presence because I deal with and have the opportunity, fortunate opportunity to discuss these concepts with people all over the world. So online works for that. Um, especially during the pandemic. Uh, it was really the only way to go. So that's what launched me down that road.
Um, I do teach, uh, um, locally and in person, um, around here. I live in Connecticut, by the way, and, uh, I also teach at a school called the Institute of Sustainable Nutrition, and I teach the gardening portion of that program. And that program is all, uh, in person as well.
Awesome. Okay, so back we go to our vinegar extraction.
I have made it myself. Okay. So I took a jar, I took some vinegar. I was not ambitious enough to make my own vinegar. So I took some, uh, apple cider vinegar and I put in some eggshells from boiled eggs. I figured those eggshells will be cooked enough cuz they were boiled with the egg. I put them together and I was so surprised at how sort of fizzy it became, or, um, the process.
What, what was the process? What is the process that happens to the eggshells? Why does it become so effervescent?
What's the weak acids in the vinegar that are attacking the eggshell and drawing out minerals? It's essentially breaking down the eggshell.
Um, so then we let it, we covered it lightly with I think paper towel or something, I can't remember.
Just a cloth and we let it sit. How long does it have to sit in order to extract, uh, the, the maximum amount of nutrients? So the,
uh, the weak acids have, uh, only so much capacity and after a couple of weeks, that, um, will pretty well end. And, um, the nice thing about it is, by the way, the most important thing is you do this, is you put a piece of tape on the jar and you label it.
You label it eggshells and you put the date May 30th, 2023. And the reason for that is, at least in my world, I wanna leave that for two weeks. So I take that jar and I put it on a shelf somewhere and two weeks comes by, which is just about long enough for me to totally forget about it. And I might pick it up off the shelf two months later or two years later.
So it's really great to have a date. And so again, this is a very, very reasonable and, uh, a generous process because whenever you finally get back to that jar, you merely strain it and you're done. You've got a, a shelf stable product. Again, take the tape off the label, off the jar and put it on the new jar and write down when you decanted it.
And now you have complete information about that, uh, product that you can put on your shelf and start accumulating these amazing resources.
And what happens if you do forget about it and leave it there without straining it for three months? Um, well it
depends. Um, For me, usually I use organic apple cider vinegar that's alive, and so a mother might form on the top and that mother might contribute to the decomposition process.
Um, and so what really what you're gonna do is get more stuff. Um, when I talk about, uh, uh, the mineral analysis of these products, I'm usually talking about, uh, specifically the elements, uh, uh, the mineral elements that are in it. Well, I want to make sure, um, that those minerals are in there because of, it's interesting and I can talk to people about it, but there's much more going on in that jar.
There's many compounds. There's, there's many different things going on there that are au awful be, that are also beneficial. Um, and so, uh, but we just talk about these minerals, uh, that's in the jar.
Okay, we have an email from Adam. This is Adam from Corn Stock Park, Michigan. I love to grow French marigolds in order to improve the soil, leaving the plant matter for soil improvement.
As Nigel mentioned about plant matter and even weeds, there is some data about French marigold's reducing harmful nematode activity near their root zone. Hmm, interesting. Does that, uh, have you heard about that?
Well, so when we talk about the root exudates of plants in the soil, this opens up the conversation about how plants get on in life.
So if you're a plant, you're kind of put in the soil and you can't relocate, you can't get up and move to LA or Oklahoma or anyplace else because you don't like the environment. You're forced to live there. And this is the whole concept of root exudates. The plant is adjusting the soil in the ground to suit its needs by releasing energy into the soil.
Now during photosynthesis, uh, about 20 or 30% on normal cases of that photosynthesis energy will actually be released into the soil, and it's very selective. So the plant is regulating and adjusting pH. It's regulating and adjusting, eh, it's regulating and feeding certain biology, bacteria and fungus. In fact, the plant actually mines bacteria within its root system and releases them.
If you, uh, look at the research of James White, for instance, uh, fascinating stuff. So the plant is defining its area of existence by releasing things into the soil. So when a scientist looks and says, oh, look, this seems to be happening here, or This seems to be happening here. Those are really wonderful observations and interesting observations.
But in aggregate, it's the plant defining its own environment. Now, when we make the environment nice for a plant by having lots of organic matter, having a thriving biology and having the minerals that it needs, then the plant doesn't have to expend so much of that energy at photosynthesis to make the soil what it wants to be.
And it can now gain compounds that the soil biology's actually creating through the xylem flow to nurture the plant, giving it more, um, uh, ability to make complex compounds, the secondary metabolites that we're looking for, the photo nutrients, the, uh, antioxidants and things like that. So, so we have
an, oh, sorry.
Go ahead. Oh,
yeah, that makes sense.
So we have, uh, an email here. Uh, let's see who it's from, from Patty. Um, hi, urban Forestry. What actually, what is actually amendment analysis? Love the show from Syracuse, New York. So you've mentioned a couple of times that you have these amendment analysis. So gi give us an idea about what's, what you're doing and, and what you mean by that.
Um, well
after learning about all of these ideas, um, being the engineer that I am, I like data. Um, it's, we can talk about things all day long, but I like information to actually determine, uh, what's going on. So, um, I look for labs to actually determine what minerals were in the different amendments that I was making.
Sure I get it, that the best thing to feed a tomato is a tomato because that's what happens in nature, but well, what's really in there? And so I found a lab eventually it was Logan Labs actually. And talked to the people there and, and told them what I was interested in, and they, uh, worked on a, an analysis for me.
And so I have a standing analysis with them that I can use for analyzing the different mineral amendments. And so then I thought when I first started getting the results, I was really amazed. I looked at, for instance, an apple and saw all these trace minerals in it, and I thought to myself, no wonder I need to eat an apple a day to keep the doctor away because that's where I'm getting the minerals from.
And then you start looking at different, uh, fruits and different weeds and different plants and trees and all these things. And you recognize they all have all of these 18 minerals in a cobalt, meibum, manganese, silicon, selenium, nickel. I mean, it's all there, right? But they're all in subtly different proportions.
And so this made me think, wow, I have a toolbox of amendments that I can use for specific purposes here. This is kind of cool. And then I'm talking to people from all over the world. When I'd tell somebody, oh yeah, just go get some sting nettle and make a fermented plant juice on it. And somebody would say, Nigel, there's no sting nettle in Pakistan.
And I'd say, oh, well what do you have? And then the answer is, I don't know. And so it became clear to me that a database of these analyses was really, really helpful and, and important to not only show people what might be available, but also to give people an opportunity to contribute to this database.
Cuz the database that I have online is available for anybody to look at. And I also have a way for people to actually analyze their own, uh, amendments if they want. And if they want, they can do it through me, through the same price as Logan bla 35 bucks. And then I will publish those data on my website as well for anybody to, to view.
So, um, yeah, we could talk about that for a while, but in a nutshell, that's what's going on.
That's fantastic. And do you want to, uh, oh, well, you can't. What we'll do is link to this podcast. I will put a link to your page with the list of amendments so that listeners to the show can go and have a look themselves and see firsthand what you have already documented and perhaps contribute themselves.
Um, we have some more great questions coming in, so I'll ask, ask the next one. This is also from Lisa. Lisa says, vinegar extraction of beef bones. Can I use the bones I have already used to make beef broth, which means they've already been boiled for several hours. Is there still something useful there to be extracted?
And Lisa is from Iqua, Ontario.
The answer is a resounding yes. Yes. In fact, in our house that's exactly what happens. We get the bones, uh, knuckles and things like that, make the lovely collagen rich bone broth out of them. Might cook them, might get two batches of bone broth out of the bones, and then I get them.
And then I'll take the bones and I'll cook them on the, uh, gas grill outside. You can also just throw them in a container and throw 'em on a bonfire at the end of night. You can also cook them in your house, but the ODI is may turn many people off. So I recommend doing it outside. But once you've cooked these bones or shells or whatever it is, what you've done is you've removed moisture from the article and you've removed the organic matter from the bone or shell or whatever it is.
And by doing that now the vinegar can get in there where the moisture was and really start making those reactions happen. So the answer is yes, and I should state that all of these recipes are, are that my book is a recipe book and all of these recipes that we're talking about are listed in there. And I also have, uh, uh, an appendix with many of the analysis, uh, in the back of the book as well.
Fantastic. So here's, uh, here's a comment from Janine, and this is straight to my heart because Janine's writing, she's from Ann Arbor, Michigan. Thank you for this presentation. We are growing a food forest in a city park and want to offer a good model for growing food. We are excited to learn more about caring for our fruit trees.
So thank you so much Janine, for sharing that. That of course is my background as a community orchardist and Janine may wanna look at my book, growing Urban Orchards, which is all about what she's doing and my online course, which is called Certificate in Fruit Tree Care, where I talk about being a community orchard.
And I will teach you how we have managed over the last decade and more, uh, to care for our fruit trees. But thank you, Janine. That's awesome. So. We we're gonna go to a commercial break in just a minute, but before we do, I just wanna clarify, once we have made these extracts with the vinegar, and then we filter out the bones, um, and all you have is the vinegar liquid with all this wonderful minerals in it, and you put it on the shelf when it's time to spray, are you simply putting a few drops in your, in water and then you're spraying your plants?
What happens next?
Well, so first I'll decide what I wanna do and when and where, and what I want to use and what I have. That's really an important thing in any kind of gardening or farming situation. You use what you have, and having a plant model to help explain that is really important. But, so, um, essentially, um, I like to full your spray with rainwater.
Uh, rainwater is, uh, f essentially free of carbonates and sulfates and, and carbon. Carbon di um, Other, uh, particles. And so it's ripe for foliar spraying. And so I'll fill up a, I use a five gallon bucket for mixing, um, and I put about four gallons of water, rainwater in that bucket. Um, I'll add two tablespoons of fermented plant juice or vinegar extractions, and two tablespoons is very close to a ratio of 500 to one.
So that's how I get my 500 to one ratio. And then I'll mix that bucket and we could talk about mixing and the whole ideas of, uh, uh, Structured water and things like that. But suffice to say, I'll mix it. And then I have four gallons of liquid that I can use for, uh, foliar spraying. And you can use that in the course of several days.
Or if you have enough orchard space or garden space, you can use that all in one shot. Um, the other thing I'll do is, for instance, I have many kinds of fruit trees and I might use a liter uh container, a foliar sprayer, and I might add half a tablespoon of liquid to that to get a similar ratio. And then I'll go out and, uh, foliar spray my blueberries, then I'll redo it with peach juice to make, to fully or spray my peaches at, uh, pears, blah, blah, blah.
You get the picture. Gotcha.
I wanna sneak in one more we're, we got lots more to talk about after the break, but one more interesting email. This one's from Jack from Seattle. Hi Susan and Nigel, loving the show. If I remember correctly, a previous guest talking about foliar sprays mentioned an apple cider vinegar base spray that could spur a plant that had not blossomed to actually blossom.
Again, assuming I remembered that correctly, what additive is it that would cause, cause this, that's from Jack from Seattle. Jack is referring to a wonderful previous episode with John Kemp, uh, who was on this show, and I will try and check during the commercial break what episode that was. But do you, is there something that you would say you could add, uh, to your spray that will encourage a, a slow tree to actually blossom and produce fruit?
We just mentioned that briefly, but flowering is really looking for phosphorus. Uh, and so for instance, I've had cucumbers that are sitting there and they begin to flower, but they don't, they begin to, they get that little female thing going on there, but nothing happens. And so I foliar spray with a vinegar extraction of cow bones, which has a very high amount of phosphorus in it.
And boom, those things will flower like the next day. In fact, in that particular instance, I got, uh, clusters of five to seven flowers, um, on my cucumber plant, um, after I foliar sprayed, uh, with the vinegar extraction of cow bones. Well,
that's helpful. So hopefully that, that is helpful. Um, so let's, uh, I wanna talk more about the fermented fruit, uh, amendment that you've been talking about.
Let's talk about that after the break. But in the meantime, Nigel, are you okay if we spend a few minutes listening to a few words from our very valued sponsors? Are you okay holding the line? Can't wait. Okay, great. Thank you. You are listening to the Urban Forestry Radio Show and podcast, and it's brought to you by the Fruit Tree Care training website, orchard people.com.
This is Reality Radio 1 0 1, and I'm Susan Poizner, author of the Fruit Tree Care Books Growing Urban Orchards and Grow Fruit Trees Fast and we will be back right after the break.
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Hi, I'm Susan Poizner from Orchard people.com. And I'm Steph
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Welcome back to the Urban Forestry Radio Show with your host Susan Poizner. Right here on Reality Radio 1 0 1 to get on board right now, send Susan an email. Our email address is in studio101@gmail.com,
and now right back to you, your host of the Urban Forestry Radio Show, Susan Poizner.
You are listening to the Urban Forestry Radio Show and podcast, brought to you by the Fruit Tree Care training website, orchard people.com. This is Reality Radio 1 0 1, and I'm your host, Susan Poisoner. As humans, we have a limited time on this absolutely beautiful planet, and as we live, we use up lots of the world's precious resources.
Is it possible to live lives full of abundance and to leave the world in a better shape than we found it? Well, those who practice regenerative agriculture believe that this is possible. And so on today's show, we're talking about regenerative agriculture and fruit trees, or specifically we are talking with my guest Nigel Palmer, and he's the author of the wonderful little book that we all need to read and have a copy of.
It's called The Regenerative Grower's Guides to Garden Amendments. So in the show today, Nigel has been talking about ways that we can use locally sourced materials to make garden ven amendments that will help us grow healthy and productive fruit trees. So in the first part of the show, we talked a little bit about making amendments with vinegar and bones or shells.
Um, I wanna talk a little further about how to make amendments with fallen fruit. But first I wanna hear from you. If you're listening to this show live today, you can enter today's contest. All you have to do is send us an email right now during the live show with a question or a comment, or you can just email us to say hello.
Send that email to intu101@gmail.com, and be sure to include your first name and where you are writing for. And of course, the prize this month is a copy of Nigel's book, the Regenerative Grower's Guide to Garden Amendments. It's valued at 24 95. So send us an email right now in studio 1 0 1 gmail.com and we look forward to hearing from you.
So Nigel, before the break, we were talking about, you know, mixing, using rainwater, mixing a small amount of the amendments that we create into the rainwater and spraying the trees. Do we only spray the leaves or will this nutritional solution actually, um, absorb into the bark and the branches?
Sure. Um, just like human beings, uh, trees, plants have skin and we absorb tremendous amounts of things through our skin, as do plants.
So the efficacy of spraying the branch or the trunk of a tree might not be as great as the leaves, um, but it does indeed be, become absorbed. Maybe, uh, I'll pick a number, 20% or something like that. 30%. And so, um, this is a wonderful way to feed your trees, uh, in the wintertime. Or in the fall after the leaves have fallen off your trees.
Um, so yeah. Mm-hmm.
So some of it will get in there. Um, yeah, that makes sense. Now, you were talking earlier about feeding fruit trees with fruit from the actual tree. Now I'm assuming you're not gonna pick off the, the best quality fruit that you would like to eat and then take it and ferment it. Is this, can you use, um, fallen fruit or, or fruit that's even got maggots in it to make this spray?
How would you do that?
Yeah, AB absolutely any, any damaged fruit will, will do the trick. Um, rotting fruit, not so much. Uh, you want to have it, uh, at least not rotted, but insect damage or the stuff that falls to the ground not quite fully developed, uh, those sorts of things.
What if it's unright? Let's say, um, you know, early in the season, sometimes there's June drop, uh, you know, early, small little fruitlets.
Is that appropriate to make a spray out of?
Um, so the easy answer is, I don't know. And one of the pretenses of this book of mine is, is it's a toolbox of ideas. I like to provide people with ideas, and I encourage all of you to become experimental gardeners like myself and to try things yourself. So you have a toolbox of toolbox of ideas with recipes, how to make things.
It talks about the use of a refractometer, so you can actually measure the efficacy of what you're adding to your plants or trees or whatever it is. And, um, also there's analysis so you can actually analyze what's going on. So this is a toolbox of ideas for you to be empowered to use the resources around you for no money or free to nurture and experiment with, uh, uh, making your trees healthier and healthier.
So I Okay. Anybody to give that a shot.
Sure. Sounds great. Um, okay, so let's say, uh, we've got some fallen fruit and maybe it's almost ripe and it fell off the tree. What do we do next in order to get it in the situation where we can actually, uh, turn it into a spray, uh, to spray our trees with?
Yeah, so this is really, really difficult and complex, so everybody pay attention.
Everybody have
their, you guys have your notebooks ready, open your notebooks. Okay. Yep. Go on,
set it up, and you weigh it and you add the same amount of weight of, uh, organic brown sugar. And then you put a weight on the top just to make sure that there's some pressure. And osmosis will leach out the, the moisture in the, um, in the fruit.
Um, and you'll produce a liquid very quickly. Um, and then you strain off that liquid in about seven days and you've got what you need. You're done.
Wow. So let me just go through that again because I didn't write it down in my notebook. Do I cut, I cut up the fruit into little pieces. Does it
matter? Um, surface area is a good thing, so if you're dealing with blueberries, probably don't have to cut 'em up much.
But if you're dealing with a, an apple or a, a peach, for instance, or a pear, you might want to quad it or eight fit, um, just to give, uh, surface area.
Gotcha. Okay. So we're chopping it up, we're weighing it. We're putting the equal amount of brown sugar, and you're telling me this mixture will somehow exude enough liquid for us to get a jar of liquid out of this.
Um, so fruits, uh, are, that are juicy. The e easy answer is absolutely, things get a little bit more difficult when you're, um, trying to make fermented plant juices of herbs, uh, like stinging nettle, for instance, uh, which is relatively dry. And for herbs, you want to capture the plant material, um, before sunrise when the birds are singing, uh, to catch the dew on those plants.
Um, and in that case, you don't need that same ratio of sugar. You can get away with a, a, a lesser amount of sugar, maybe three quarters of the weight in brown sugar, organic brown sugar. Um, but then, yes, mm-hmm.
Once we get the liquid, we throw away all the sugar and all the mushy, the, the mushy fruit, right?
We throw that away. We take it whatever liquid, and that's what we're gonna mix in. Am I correct?
So we never throw anything Susan, Evan forbid.
No, we don't throw it away. We put it on the compost pile, or we put it at the base of the tree, right? That's still loaded with all kinds of stuff, so you don't wanna squeeze it. You just want gravity to let the juice fall out. But all that residue I'd throw into my four gallon bucket, fill it up with rainwater, spin it around, and then feed it back to the tree again.
This is the same pretense of never taking any of the carbon out of the garden. We always wanna put all the, the material that that tree produces back into the tree.
Nigel, this is so exciting. Wonderful. Okay, we got another email here. This one is from Daniel. So Daniel is writing from for Tave Spirits. So Daniel writes, hi Susan.
I absolutely love your show. We listened to it at the distillery all the time. I was visiting my friends Orchard up in the New York Hudson Valley area this weekend. Unfortunately, I learned that he and other growers lost most of this year's stone fruit crop due to a frost that hit a couple of weeks ago.
Is there any way to avoid this? Thanks again for hosting such a wonderful show. All the best, Daniel. Oh, what a lovely email. Thank you Daniel. Um, I'm gonna hand it over to Nigel in just a minute, but actually Daniel, um, Two months ago, I had a fabulous, um, guest on my show from Florida talking specifically about how to protect fruit trees from frost.
And there are ways to do it. Some of them are very expensive, like Hira helicopter and get them to fly on top of your orchard to keep the cold air from, uh, settling down into the orchard. But there are other ways covering trees if you've only got a few trees, um, there's, there are different ways that we can do this.
So go back to that episode, which is maybe episode 90 of the Urban Forestry Radio Show. But I wanna put this over to you, Nigel. Um, you know, by caring for our trees properly, do they get more resilient and when it comes to, uh, cold weather or what would you suggest?
So the answer is yes. Uh, um, and, and a lot of trees, they can stand temperatures in the, in the high twenties Fahrenheit.
Um, Um, when you get down into the mid low twenties, things get a little bit dicey, but, um, a healthy tree has a, a higher percent sucrose in the sap, and that sucrose equates to antifreeze, if you will. And so by increasing the sugar content of your plant or your tree, you're increasing the, uh, uh, the ability for that tree to withstand cold weather.
So by providing nutrient biology, carbon, organic matter, all the things that we talk about, uh, you move the tree to a place where it can withstand lower, lower temperatures.
Okay, we got a question from Oscar in New York. Interesting. Okay. Oscar writes, hello, Susan and Nigel. Great show. Today I'm listening to your podcast at work, so I missed a few minutes of the intro.
I wanted to ask, when you are spraying regenerative amendments, is there a set schedule to follow or is it based on the observation of con concrete circumstances? Also, I've been hearing of folks in the Finger Lakes region of New York using black walnut sprays. Do you have any insight on black walnuts?
Thanks from Oscar in New York. So let's start with part one, and we kind of tackled this a little bit. When it comes to spraying these amendments, is there a set schedule to follow or is it based on
observation? Um, the answer is you could do either, you can use a refractometer to measure the uh, uh, the efficacy of your foliar sprays.
Um, and I won't go into that, but you can do it. And so there's the scientific approach of actually having data to support what you're doing. The other thing is to, um, full your spray. On a schedule. Now, when we talk about this idea, we have to recognize that again, the plant's stuck in the ground. It's doing its best to take photosynthesis energy and change the soil solution to meet its needs.
And then all of a sudden some dude comes along and starts providing nutrient to the leaf of the plant and the plant goes, wow, that's pretty cool. Not bad. And so, It may adjust its behavior in what it demands from the soil based on what you're doing. Okay? So the next thing happens is it happened on Saturday.
By the way, plants don't follow a seven day work week. I don't know if anybody recognizes that. I don't know if people every day ends and why in, in some people's life. Anyway, so the point is that on Saturday we get this dose of fermented plant juice of blueberries or something like that. And then the plant says, wow, that's cool.
And what happens is the sugar content actually increases a little bit and then it'll go back down, but it might not go back down to where it was. And so the following Saturday comes around and you go give it another. Feeding of, of fermented plant juice, for instance. And that sugar content will go up again and it may not come down.
So the point is that the plant is adjusting its nutritional needs based on your behavior. And so you could theoretically feed your plant every day or every minute if you were so inclined, but as soon as you stop doing that, then you're, you're causing the plant to have to readjust its schedule. So for most people, I recommend a seven day, uh, interval.
Um, because that will, that's something that most people can cope with, right? Saturday morning, I don't have to go to work. I'm gonna go full year, spray my plants.
Awesome. And, and you know what? We can think of it as we're training our plants. We're, we're teaching them, right? We're saying, Hey guys, you get, you get the goodies every Saturday.
So they're all looking forward to Saturdays, don't you think?
Um, I would argue that the plant is training us. Oh, maybe.
Maybe that's right. Okay, good point. The smarter of the, the characters involved. Okay. Second part was black walnut sprays. Does that mean anything to you? Oh,
sure. Um, I enjoy black walnuts.
They're great to eat. And, uh, I take the hull of a black walnut and I make a tincture out of it, and it's wicked, wicked antifungal, and it's very effective at, uh, um, taking care of antifungal kinds of things. Well, if we go back to the previous discussion about. Trees or plants and exuding things into the soil.
We recognize that black walnuts in general will keep other things from growing around it for some reason, and it has something to do with these root exudates. So one of the things that I like to talk to people about is recognizing the characteristic of the plant you're using for the purposes of what you're going to do.
And perhaps I could offer an example of this. Um, photosynthesis efficiency is very, very important when you're growing things like lettuces and things like that, or your fruit trees when they're not fruiting, right? When they just have leaves on them. By increasing the photosynthesis efficiency, we get more effic, more energy that can be distributed to all those sinks.
And so when I was walking around the woods one day, um, I noticed that the sassafras. Plants trees were in the very low part of the canopy, the the 40 50 foot canopy of maples and oaks. And down at the bottom of 10 15 feet were these beautiful, healthy, sassafras plants with nice, shiny rich leaves on them.
And so I thought to myself, well, this plant must be really good at photosynthesis, sufficiency. So I grabbed a bunch of leaves, made a fermented plant use of it, and then I sent it to a lab for analysis. Now, John Kemp might tell us that in order to increase photosynthesis efficiency, we need magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and nitrogen.
Well, an iron. And when you go and look at the analysis of the sassafras, which is also on my website, if you care to look at it, you'll see that it's high in all of those elements. And so by recognizing the characteristic of plants around us, we can then use that characteristic to make fermented plant uses to facilitate those characteristics in the plants that we're trying to grow.
So that makes total sense, makes sense to me. Um, here there's an email from Olivia, Olivia writes, hi Susan and Nigel. I always look forward to your show and today is no exception. Thanks for another exciting episode. Olivia is from Brooklyn, New York. Thank you Olivia. Yes, it is fun talking to Nigel. I'm lucky to be here.
Um, so Nigel, you're talking about other plants that we could, you even mentioned weeds. We can find our local weeds that we hate and we can turn them into a spray that our fruit trees would like. Um, whatever plant we are using, what do we do? Do we stick it in apple cider vinegar? Do you know? How would we turn other plants, especially weeds into a spray and yeah.
Why is that a good thing?
Well, so let's start off with weeds. Uh, weeds are absolutely amazing, wonderful things. And, um, people need to start appreciating weeds for what they really are. In nature, nature grows weeds in order to adjust the soil, and different weeds will grow in different unbalanced soils.
And so what we recognize again, is, is the idea that if nature's growing that weed and that soil, then that's what the soil needs. Um, I like to use quack grass as an example. Again, the analysis of that is in my book and on my website. Quack Grass is the bane of some people's gardening experience. They can't stand it.
Well, I love quack grass, and the reason for it is it's got these lovely root shoots that go all over the place, and it's nurturing large po portions of the soil. And so when I garden and I see quack grass in my garden, the first thing comes to mind is, wow, I wonder what's in quack. Quack grass. My soil must need it because the quack grass is mining those minerals, dying and feeding the soil.
And so guess what? I went and grabbed some crack quack grass. I made fermented plant use of quack grass, and I analyzed it and you can see the analysis and it's loaded with trace minerals, really important trace minerals. And so now I was just, uh, growing potatoes. I'm, I'm planting potatoes today, in yesterday, and I have quack grass growing in the place where I'm growing the potatoes.
So I pull that quack grass up, but it never leaves the garden. It's the mulch on the side of my potatoes, and I know that it's what my garden wants. I know it's what the soils wants. It's providing, it's mining those trace minerals that need to be pulled up from the ground and deposited on the top of the soil.
And so recognizing the weeds that grow in your garden can tell you an awful lot about the soil in your garden. And it also is an indicator of what your soil needs as you mineralize your soil, as you change the composition of carbon. Biology and minerals in your soil, the weeds that grow there will change.
And so this is further, uh, uh, information that we can use to, uh, um, to nurture the, and regenerate our growing space. Nature's regenerating our growing space with the weeds that grow there, so we can facilitate that process by making sure those weeds and the carbon that's in those weeds does not leave the garden, but becomes a mulch within the garden.
And then that makes, mm-hmm. I forgot the other part of your question. That was part one.
Oh goodness. I don't know. That was a while back. I was just wowed by your last answer. I'm, I'm putting it out to the listeners. Hey, listeners, do we want Nigel to come back again? Send us an email because I'm not sure. I don't, I haven't learned enough in this episode.
What do you guys think? By the way, I'm joking. Um, so Nigel doesn't know his own website, so I've just decided to Google it for, for you, Nigel, your website address is by the way, Nigel uh-palmer.com. Not a hard one to remember, so that's good. Um, it is time for us to do today's contest and a lot of people entered the contest to win a copy of your book.
Oh, I got an email already. Oh boy. Uh, quick email from Olivia. Do you know of any cases where farmers and folks have integrated these ferment, fermented concoctions into their drip irrigation? Is there such a thing as too much? Also, do you see greater efficiency of efficacy when using plants and weeds that are hyperlocal?
Does regionality matter? So let's have a quick answer, a two minute answer on that, and then we're gonna find out who won the contest.
Yes. Uh, called ion is the buzzword I think that you could look online to realize, uh, how to incorporate these ideas into your drip irrigation system. Um, the issue with drip irrigation, specifically when you're using biological products, which we really haven't talked about toge today, is they can really clog up your system.
So that's ion. And what was the second one?
Uh, the second one was, let's go back. Um, too much, too much, uh, drip air. Yeah. Too. Is there too
much? Yes, there is such a thing as too much as with anything in life. Uh, um, as all of us realize when we're teenagers, there is such a thing as too much of anything. And the same is true here.
Um, the good news is that the, the too much is gonna end up in the soil or wherever it's gonna go, and it's not toxic. It will be diluted eventually by the soil, uh, uh, solution. And there's nothing toxic about it, but you can feed your plant too much. My
concern is vinegar, as well as also I guess, uh, you know, can, can kill plants.
I suppose if you have, if people decided to apply these amendments without diluting them, it probably wouldn't be very good for the plant. Exactly. So thank you Olivia, for your question. Okay. Time to find out who won today's contest, but first I just quickly wanna say hello to the listeners that wrote me this month.
So hello to Ralph and Kendra. Donna. Sean, Mike and Carl. Hey guys. Nice to hear from you. Thank you so much for being regular listeners and to all my show listeners. Would you like a shout out during an upcoming show? Here's what I would love it if you guys could do go to Apple Podcasts or go to your local podcaster and post a review for the Urban Forestry Radio Show.
I have lots of listeners, but very few reviews from you guys so people won't find the show. If it doesn't get reviews, if you post a new review, I promise I will share it on an upcoming show. So thank you so much for anybody who would consider doing that. So now it's time for the contest, and Gary in the studio is gonna help us, right?
Gary, I am
gonna help you. And here's what we're gonna do, Nigel. I put all those names in a little container. I'm gonna shake that container, you'll hear that, and you tell me when to stop. And then what I'll do is I will pull out a name. Are you ready? Yeah, I'm ready. I can, okay. All right. Here we go.
Hey. Ah, right there, there. That's a good place. Okay, hold on.
And the winner today is Adam b from Comstock Park, Michigan. And I think our studio audience is, is they're almost out of control here. They're standing up right now and we're just gonna, hello everyone. There they are. There they are. They're all, all right folks. Thank you. You can sit down now. Thank you very much.
Beautiful. Beautiful. All right. Back
to Gary. I noticed the studio audience, they were, they were a little slow today. Didn't you notice that? They were, uh, because
you know that darn technology,
there must be a delay in the transmission of the program or something. But they were so excited and they just couldn't wait, but they had to take a few seconds.
That's right. To get excited. Yeah. Well, thank you. This is great. So, Adam, I think it was Adam, right? I was all excited about the studio audience. Um, the winner will be notified and we will get your address and you will get your book shipped directly to you. Um, so thank you for all of you guys who participated and sent in such fantastic questions today, and thank you, Nigel, for being an amazing guest.
I'll wait to hear back from the listeners to see if they want you to come back again sometime, you know, like, who knows? Maybe they will, maybe they won't. What do you think Nigel?
Oh, it'd be my pleasure, and thank you so much for the opportunity to share these important ideas.
Oh, that's so fantastic to have had you on the show today.
So, for folks who maybe didn't get to hear the whole show, if you wanna listen to the recorded episode, um, you can go to orchard people.com/podcasts and you can listen to the show again. But if you hang in there and wait a couple of days, you can also go to YouTube. I have the podcast now up on YouTube.
So you'll see video of Mia and Nigel chatting, but I'm also going to include a whole bunch of pictures and, and, uh, visuals so that you can kind of see what we're talking about as well as listen. So that is on the Orchard, orchard People YouTube channel. Um, what else? If you go to orchard people.com, you can also find that I teach courses on fruit tree care, and I hope you will come and check it out.
I have articles on Fruit tree care and. That's it for this month. We're going to have another exciting topic to discuss next month. I'm figuring that out right now and thanks again. Thanks to Nigel and thanks to all the listeners. I look forward to seeing you guys all next month. Bye for now.