Skip to main content

The Arboretum Tomé History

The Arboretum Tomé property was purchased in 1985 by Michael & Kari Melendrez as vacant land.  Unknown to the Melendrez couple the soil was a high pH Saline Sodic Alkaline clay with the pH running as high as 9.3 and never below 8.5.   In the winter the salts would come to the surface and turn the ground white.  In horticulture terms this situation is called "White Death" as very few of the most hardy weeds can tolerate those conditions.   Michael showed a soil analysis report of the site to a Professor of Soil Science at New Mexico State University who told him it was impossible to fix that kind of soil and to put a for sale sign on it.   Instead Michael using his knowledge of chemistry, molecular biology, microbiology and a good deal of dumb luck began to experiment with methods of soil  restoration.  The clay on the site is about 12 feet deep and was hard as a rock, taking many days of digging with a concrete buster and pick axe to dig a single tree planting site.   Many dozens of trees were planted in 1986 of which all died after one agonizing summer.  Today however the site is a rich collection of trees of the world with the largest collection of Oaks of any landscape in New Mexico or the Southwest.  Also growing on the site are 70 foot tall Redwoods, 50 foot tall Native New Mexican Oaks, Giant Timber Bamboo, Sugar Maples and a Naturalized forest Michael calls the Woodland Edge.  If you ask Michael what the key ingredient was to fixing the toxic chemistry of the site, he will tell you it was electricity.  That's right, electricity that is coming from the Carbon Matrix of our TerraPro product, an invention of Michael that is bio-identical to what Nature is doing in the healthiest soils on the planet.    In 2011 Clarence Chavez, Acting Soil Scientists for New Mexico working for the USDA NRCS requested from Michael that a new soil carbon test be used to measure the concentration of carbon on the arboretum grounds.  This type of carbon test can prove if a successful soil carbon sequestration process is taking place.  If the carbon accumulation is significant and is not there because you added it in the form of compost, biochar, etc., but rather is there  because the soil ecology process of  Nature put it there, than we can make the claim that Soil Carbon Sequestration has taken place.  A result of the Reactive Carbon testing performed by Clarence revealed the highest carbon levels measured in New Mexico, including many Organic Certified Farms that have been organic for many years.   It also revealed that when soils are healthy and full of carbon they stay cooler in the heat of the summer as the Arboretum Tomé soils were 16 F degrees cooler that other sites in the same county.  Cooler soils stay moist in the summer than hot soils!



                                       
                                        Looking East in 1986, showing the salt


The same view of the East side of the Arboretum in 1996


Tree production nursery in the arboretum

                  Fall color on a native red oak called Chisos Red Oak - Quercus gravesii


Fall color of the native Bigtooth Sugar Maple, Western Red Bud and Texas Redwood (Taxodium)


Arboretum's Woodland Edge, used to buffer the hot western sun and function as a windbreak.  Species included in this mix are Arizona White Oak, Chinquapin Oak, California Valley Oak, Iranian Chestnut leaf Oak, Gambel Oak, Chisos Red Oak, Swamp White Oak, Lacy Oak, Fendlers Oak, Western and Eastern Red Bud,  Texas Ash.


Arboretum lawn 

Popular posts from this blog

Fertilizers formulated for alkaline soils of the Southwest

Recently I was in an Albuquerque retail nursery where a fertilizer was being sold that stated it was formulated for alkaline soils of the Southwest.  It contained high levels of iron and sulfur, plus the N, P and K major nutrients.  Do any of the readers care to comment on this type of product?    Pros, Cons, etc.  I have my take on it, but I'll entertain what you want to say about it.  Michael Martin Meléndrez

Soil Health: Level 2 - Description of Terms (Carbon Compounds)

The  Labile Carbon  is also known as the 'Rapid Cycling Carbon' and its composed of all the Soil Organic Matter that is dead and actively decomposing.  It's benefit to the soil is that it provides a source for minerals that are being recycled as potential plant nutrients, so in a sense it's Nature's fertilizer.  Active Carbon   also known as Reactive Carbon is more complex than the Labile Carbon in that its composed of all the dead and actively decomposing organic matter plus all the living soil microbial community that will eventually die and begin decomposing.   For example, the hyphae of mycorrhizae only live about 5 to 7 days before they die and start to decompose, while the fungus organism itself may live far longer.  Recalcitrant Carbons   are the Humic substances made up of complex organic chemistry, some of which is inert and some of which is very reactive and are powerful biologics, such as the Humic Acids.  Recalcitrant Humic substances are known in la

Understanding the Importance of Cation Exchange Capacity

I was recently asked to provide a simplified explanation on the importance of Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC) values. My Response:  CEC is the ability of a soil to hold onto plant nutrients.   The finer the particle size the higher CEC value, generally speaking. For example sand particles are course and visible to the naked eye, where as clay particles are fine and are not visible to the naked eye. So clay will have a higher CEC value than sand. It is obvious to most of us that sand cannot hold onto water or nutrients as well as a soil with a finer texture. Therefore, soils rich in Clay and Loam size particles are universally recognized as being better for farming - CEC explains this.  The numerical value for CEC represents how much nutrition can be held by a given amount of soil. For example one pound of a clay loam soil with a CEC value of 20 will hold 4 times as many nutrients as a sandy soil with a CEC value of 5. 20/4 = 5 .  It's all about math, for example Nitrogen in