It is autumn and your trees deserve special attention now.

Our offer is simple:


Our friend, and experienced arborist, Kevin Stitt, has worked with us for several years now. Some of the oak trees on our property would have been fire wood by now if it wasn't for Kevin. Others we thought would surely not make it through the drought, are now thriving.

When I asked Kevin recently what he felt was important to consider at this time of year, he thoughtfully replied: "We were blessed with a decent amount of rain last winter, even though alot of it came at once and did more harm than good, in some cases. There was lots of fruit and nut production too. Follow through is essential and NOW is the time." So I asked Kevin if he would elaborate in a short article. I have included it below. We both hope you will take Kevin's advice. If only once you could see the smile on his face when he looks at the oaks he treated for us, only 2 times, you would understand...thank you Kevin!

Is the health of your tree related to its soil?

by Kevin Stitt

Have you ever thought about it?

Obviously, the individual plant genetics...basically the plants abilities to adapt various weather conditions, determines the plant’s survival zones.

We love to, given the opportunity, and being creatures of comfort, simply move indoors to a AC/heated vehicle or building  to keep cool or warm. Trees, on the other hand, must remain in place, in unbearable heat or freezing temperatures. All they have to hang onto is every inch of soil directly around their live "root zone."

While we cannot control the weather, we can assist the soil life in the plant root zone. Field trials and my personal experience bear witness to increased growth, restorative plant health and reduced re-plants! For the tree, in your landscape, the soil surrounding its base is everything!

Get to the root of the matter. Microscopic soil life lives around the roots, some attached to the root -- all working under a plant’s food release command, to change soil pH immediately around the root in favor of a plant’s seasonal uptake needs.  Soil microbes have the digestive enzymes that plants don’t have. Soil microbes store fertilizer inside their tiny bodies. A plant releases food through its roots into the soil to arouse a predator/prey reaction that releases the stored fertilizer on time and in the amounts plant needs.

Crazy as it sounds, the microscopic life in the top six to eight inches of healthy soil, outnumber what we are able to see above ground. Water passing through those 6-8 inches of live soil is purified. Our freshwater supply depends on microscopic soil life in plant root zones.

Soil bacteria is like glue, and when combined with sand, silt, clay and organic matter, creates soil aggregates. Water retention increases and pore spaces create more room for root growth.

Many things in nature that appear to be simple are quite complex. The more we learn about the ecosystem around us, the more aware we become of the detrimental effects excess fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and fungicides have on this amazing system, and on human and animal health.

So when is a good time to treat the deep root zone of your trees?  Now! Be proactive! Increase your soil microbe population!  Disturbances, caused by weather or human activity, has caused them to diminish. The process of fruit production itself through the season has used up much of the tree's energy. This energy must be replenished for next year's production.  While your trees are resting above ground, there should be alot of activity below ground during the winter getting ready for Spring and a new season of nutritious food production. Why wait till your tree can not get what needs from the soil and tree has disease or insect issues. Let's talk tree health soon.

A Special Thank You to a Special Friend

I have been thinking lately about how many special people I have met since starting this incredible vermicomposting journey in 2009. Dawn is just one of these warm and loving people. Her work with horses is may already know about her. But when she planted a few trees (as shade for her beloved horses) and wrote this blog post, all I could do was well up with happy tears. Read her post here, and be sure to look around this will soon learn how special she really is. Thank you Dawn!

Are all worm castings created equal?

Yes, and no. Worms transform whatever they consume to a very different material. However, the food they start with plays an important role in the value and quality of the final product. At Black Diamond VermiCompost, dairy manure is "hot" composted prior to feeding to the worms. This stage kills pathogens and weed seeds and is closely monitored and adjusted to maintain optimum temperatures. The worms are fed this pre-treated food and thrive on the bacteria, fungi and other decomposers that are generated through the composting process. A few weeks later, vermicompost is harvested. The final product, Black Diamond VermiCompost,  is a very mature and stable material, promoting soil health and vibrant, strong, productive plants and trees. It will not burn and is safe for the most sensitive plants. Lab results are impressive. The worms are doing their job! We do our part to keep them well fed, warm and moist in an environment as close to nature as possible. 


 Photo by Cristy Christie

Photo by Cristy Christie


Above ground, many trees, shrubs and plants are dormant now, but below ground, in the root zone and surrounding areas, there's a party going on! With the welcomed rains on the Central Coast and the warmer-than-usual winter weather (or maybe not so unusual!), the soil food web, including micro-organisms, micro and macro arthropods, and earthworms...if you're lucky enough to have some...are alive and active. If there IS, in fact, a soil food web there to begin with. It could be a good time to add VermiCompost to the garden beds, around trees and shrubs and top with mulch, (we use a lot of straw - it's a good source of carbon) to keep them warm and happy, in case we get a frosty snap. Microbes love moisture, and by adding organic matter and microbes now, they have the opportunity to multiply and thrive, getting ready for your spring plantings. 

If you weren't real pleased with last year's crop, perhaps a soil test is in order. Give me a call, and with a few questions, I'll direct you to the right place for a simple, inexpensive soil test. It will provide you with information regarding the amount of organic matter in your soil, what minerals are present and in what quantities, along with the capacity of your soil to hold them. When you receive your test results, we'll make suggestions to put your soil in balance and you'll be on your way to a rewarding experience of nutrient dense food that make your taste buds dance!

Remember, if healthy is not in your soil, it's not in your food. If healthy isn't in your food, it's not in your body. 

-Cristy, Black Diamond VermiCompost

The Drought & Our Native Trees

Hopefully the drought is coming to an end in Central California. For our native oak tree population, as well as other deciduous trees, we offer the following information:

The above ground level effects of drought on plants can be easily seen. They include wilting, leaf scorch, some defoliation, stunted growth, branch die-back, and possible death of the plant. The below ground level soil life affected by drought is less obvious and can be unknown. 

As soils become dry, the fine feeder roots in the upper soil surface will begin to die if soils remain dry, thus putting the root system out of balance with the amount of foliage found above ground. When rain does return, the plant may not be able to take full advantage of this much-needed water because of its reduced root mass and reduced soil biology.

Soil biology is vital to rapid healthy root growth. Soil microbial communities (soil foodweb) improves water holding capacity by binding soil particles together forming aggregates. They also aid roots by keeping nutrients near root zones and compete with disease-causing microbes. They filter and degrade pollutants as water flows through soil, break down complex carbons. Mycorrhizae fungi assist in plant roots development. 

Beneficial soil microbes are found most concentrated in properly made compost.  Quality control in the balancing of energy (carbon, C) and nutrients (primarily nitrogen, N) is the beginning point. Then having adequate moisture and sufficient oxygen to support an aerobic environment is critical.

-Cristy, Black Diamond VermiCompost