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Arboretum Tome

The Arboretum Tomé is a collection of rare trees endemic to the desert Southwest. Started by the founder of Trees That Please Nursery and Soil Secrets in the 80's, the collection includes a huge collection of Oak trees, the genus Quercus, along with Redwoods, Giant Timber Bamboo, and Maples, including a Western native sugar maple called the Big Tooth Maple, Acer grandidentatum.  The Arboretum is a great place to spend some time under the shade of mature native trees, to study and observe, to be inspired, or to see the great variety of native landscaping trees the southwest has to offer.
The Arboretum also contains the production nursery for Trees That Please Nursery and is the proving ground for Soil Secrets products. All plants on the Arboretum grounds and Trees That Please Nursery are fed exclusively using the products and protocols developed by Soil Secrets.

The arboretum soil has served as the proving ground for the products of Soil Secrets, changing the original toxic clay soil and rehabilitating it into a healthy well drained soil that can now grow a wide variety of plants. The products of Soil Secrets LLC meet the benchmark of the USDA’s NOP (National Organic Program) and have been approved by USDA NOP Certifying Agents for use on Certified Farms.  Learn more about the products of Soil Secrets by following their blog at:
The Arboretum serves as a living laboratory and is available for school field trips, students, home gardeners, researchers, and individuals. The Arboretum is open for tours by appointment only by contacting Trees That Please Nursery.


Anonymous said…
How did the Soil Secrets stuff fix this soil? I have very alkaline clay in my yard in North Valley Albuquerque and was told by a nursery owner that I needed to buy an acidified compost made from cotton burrs to correct the pH to a neutral level. Can you explain this to me? Another problem with the clay is that it won't drain, with water sitting on the surface for a long time before it finally dries up. Again the same nursery guy told me to use the same compost, just lots of it to break up the clay and improve the drainage. He said you can't use too much compost. Any suggestions you have are greatly appreciated. By the way, love your blog, its very interesting, particularly the part about the humic acid stuff.
Soil Secrets products depend on three things, all of which have strong science for technical support.
1. Humic Acids that work.
2. inoculating plants with mycorrhizal fungus.
3. for nitrogen use a protein based material that plants can use as part of their nitrogen budget.

Humic Acids that work are called Supramolecular Humic biologics, which means they are very powerful chemicals of nature and they are part of the nice dark color of a healthy top soil. Humic Acids have been proven to be essential for a healthy and productive soil and they are involved with many chemical reactions that help make the soil a healthier soil. However don't expect compost, mushroom compost, or steer manure to contribute this substance as they are insignificant sources. The soils of the arboretum were high in sodium, white alkali and were dispersed clays, an ugly situation. We applied each year a heavy dose of Humic Acids using products we formulated and over the course of 25 years have seen the soils become very healthy. Our Humic Acid product for homeowners is called Earth Magic and for contractors and farmers is called TerraPro. The mycorrhizal part was crude at best 25 years ago, but today we have an extremely pure spore product that is much easier to use than when I started this process. The key is to get the mycorrhizal spores onto the seed, sprig root or sod roots when planting and the grass will then become mycorrhizal. The mycorrhizal fungus helps plants tolerate the chemistry of the soil, improves uptake of water and nutrients for the plants benefit and protects the roots of the host plant from pathogens. Our Mycorrhizal product for turf is called EndoMaxima and if also planting conifers and oaks in your landscape its called MycoMaxima.
For protein, we now used a vegetable based product that does not contain Corn Gluten and which does not contain any GMO crop. Stay away from proteins and composts that contain vegetable matter that was derived from GMO plants, as we don't know how this could impact the epigenetics of the microbiology of the soil as no longitudinal study has yet to prove it won't hurt. The protein product is called Protein Crumblies, a fantastic source of organic nitrogen.

Michael Martin Meléndrez - Managing Member of Soil Secrets and Owner of Trees That Please Nursery
Great question!
Soils in our area are alkaline (high pH) in the range of 7.5 – 8.5 or greater. Soil pH cannot effectively be lowered (acidified) with amendments because the soil’s buffering capacity will continually return it to an alkaline pH. This would be like adding sugar to the ocean to decrease salinity. Don’t waste time trying change soil pH unless you use containers, for example, to grow blueberries which require an acidic soil. Even with containers pH may tend rise if you use an alkaline water supply.
Compost is organic matter that is almost gone, reduced to the point that it’s rich in mineral nutrients because of concentration that occurred during the composting process. Compost has little or no recognizable plant material left in it (photo). In essence, it is organic fertilizer. Compost needs to be treated as a fertilizer and applied lightly to the soil surface or tilled in. DO NOT MULCH WITH COMPOST! If compost is applied inches thick it can potentially burn your plants, they will die, and your soil may become “toxic” for some time until excess nutrients can be used or leached away. Always read and follow the manufactures label for application rates and nutrient values particularly Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium (N,P,K). Nitrogen can easily become toxic and burn plants if applied to heavily.
Compost helps the soil hold water and nutrients. It also binds or aggregates soil particles, which increases air and water movement through the soil. However, the effect of compost on the soil is short-term because decomposition continues and it is consumed by plants and soil biology (microorganisms). Compost is normally applied annually to resupply needed plant nutrients and organic matter because it is used up. For more about compost and mulch see our blog:
Clay soils can be poorly drained or well-drained where clay particles are unattached (dispersed) to each other or attached (clumped), respectively. Dispersed clays plug soil pores and impede soil drainage. Clumped clay particles are soil aggregates where the clay particles are stuck together. Clumped clay particles result in better soil aeration and drainage.

The addition of Humus to clay soils can help the clumping of clay particles. Humus has a negatively charged surface that makes it good at holding positively charged cations like calcium and magnesium. The relative ratio of calcium and magnesium to sodium in the soil also aids in clay soil clumping. When the ratio of calcium and magnesium are increased relative to sodium, then soils tend to clump. Humus holds calcium and magnesium more strongly than sodium. This increases soil particle clumping and leads to better aeration and drainage. Humus will also help soils, particularly sandy ones, retain moisture and nutrients.

The effect of Humus on the soil is long-term, greater than 1000 years. Therefore, humus does not need to be replaced annually but this is one case where more is better. In addition, Humus will not be toxic to your soil if applied too heavily as will compost.

To learn more about Humus visit the soil secrets website at or follow the Soil Secrets Blog at:

Stephen Sain
Staff Plant Physiolgist

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