A common misconception about the function of a tree’s root system is that the root system produces the food for the tree. Food production for a plant is done in the photosynthetic process which happens in the foliage. The root system of the tree is responsible for the absorption and transportation of essential minerals and water to the rest of the tree, including to the leaves to assist in photosynthesis. Roots are storage containers of energy reserves, this is why stumps of removed trees may have sucker growth. The root system is also responsible for securing the tree’s space in the soil, healthy roots with ample supply of minerals and water will extend far out and deep in the soil. The healthier the soil, means a healthy root system which provides a more secure holding for the tree. In high Colorado winds this is a must.
Compost tea is food for soil, which in return benefits the nutrient and microbe uptake in the tree’s root system. The roots pipeline the essential nutrients to other areas of the tree to be used in food production. Mineral elements are the basic building blocks for new growth and cellular function. Dry weather and dry soil can result in soil compaction which decreases the availability of water, minerals and oxygen. Soil compaction can also inhibit root growth. Without oxygen the naturally occurring beneficial fungi and bacteria in the soil decrease. This is where the benefits of compost tea come in. Compost tea is made in an aerated brewer with constant oxygen and water to enhance the reproduction of the beneficial bacteria and fungi that is applied to the soil. A tree’s root system can extend out past the diameter of the tree’s crown, anchoring the tree while in search of minerals and water. However, soil compaction can inhibit root system growth, therefore creating shortened fine roots, leaving our trees vulnerable to uprooting in the high Colorado winds. This is why it is important to not only treat the immediate area around the base of the tree, but to also apply the compost tea around a large surface area.
Compost tea is made to replenish the soil and act as a natural fertilizer to restore balance to the soil environment. It does not over nourish or push a large amount of one nutrient. Nitrogen for instance in compost tea is organically bound and therefore released slowly in the soil, mimicking the soil’s natural process. A slow growth rate will help the tree maintain healthier and stronger foliage, as well as sturdy roots.
There are many benefits of compost tea including increasing the tree’s ability to fight off pest and diseases. The beneficial organisms in compost tea will prevent disease causing organisms from finding the tree by protecting any infection sites. The trees treated with compost tea will retain more water as nutrient rich soil has improved water retention. This benefit is especially important in Boulder, where we can go weeks without rain water. Compost tea is a wonderful solution to enriching your soil, improving your trees overall vitality and to keeping Boulder “green.”