Under the Chocolate Umbrella Part "Tree" - 3

On our 6th month heading into the 7th of experiments under the Theobroma cacao canopy. Specifically speaking about the soil. The cacao tree is one that thrives under the canopies of Musa (Bananas) and even Coffea arabica (Coffee) among other towering plants, but what exactly thrives underneath and within the soil level is just as important for the survival of every species in existence.
Below you will see the results of two different additives (mycorrhizae and 100% mushroom compost) being mixed into the organic soil composition of what we believe is the Forastero species of cacao. One of the three plants has only been supplemented with additional organic soil, such that can be purchased at your local gardening center or hydroponic store. I will admit that there are a few more high quality options and amendments at our local hydroponic store (South Bay Hydroponics operated by Gardening Unlimited) like Roots Organics potting soil and the Native Nutrients 100% mushroom compost that we're using in this experiment. We started all plants with FoxFarm's Ocean Forest potting soil, but have switched to the Roots Organics Original potting soil. I like the additives in this soil versus FoxFarm's. The Roots Organics smells so good that it's a nostalgic experience every time it hits my scent receptors. It's always a good idea to shop around and keep all businesses in mind. Some of course will specialize in some items and others may carry different products for specific needs.
Here is the analysis so far:
Our controlled cacao plant is growing well as they all are, but there is some yellowing of a couple of leaves including some browning edges here and there. It also has a couple of leaves that surpass 9 inches in length with one measuring in at about a foot in length. It hangs just below the soil line since the control cacao plant is itself just over a foot in height and you can see one or two roots have reached the bottom of the pot it is in.
Control plant with no additives

Control plant with no additives

Control plant with no additives
 The 2nd plant has been amended with the Native Nutrients Mushroom compost. This plant is also about a foot tall, but does not have any leaves over 7 inches in length. There is lot more noticeable browning and leaf burn in this specimen including a higher canopy as it has shed its bottom most leaves maybe because of all the added compost/fertilizer. The plant itself is growing just fine, with a couple of roots showing at the bottom of the pot and in general it looks taller than the rest because of its higher canopy and erect leaves. There is currently no new growth and this plant is not as lush as our next specimen. Here are some pictures of the Native Nutrients sample:
Mushroom compost

Mushroom compost

Mushroom compost

Our last cacao plant was amended with mycorrhizae powder, which should stimulate more of the beneficial bacteria to breakdown whats in the soil and make nutrients available for the roots to soak up at their own pace. It hasn't really shown any significant growth until this go round. The sample is so very lush and green. Almost no yellowing of the leaves and very little leaf tip burn. It is currently shooting out a couple of new leaves well over a foot tall and the plant itself is at about 14 inches tall. You can see 2 leaves that are just about a foot long with many others leaves looking like they can easily surpass that mark since they are so lush and green, basically spotless versus our control sample, which is the only other sample to produce and hold onto leaves this long. The stem on this sample is noticeably thicker as well. Here is the proof:
Mycorrhizae sample

Mycorrhizae sample

Mycorrhizae sample

There are several seeds coming in to us of a new species of cacao and once we receive those we are planning on starting another experiment again to see how different natural scenarios or additives can influence Theobroma cacaos growth. We would love for every family in the United States to own, grow and harvest their own cacao plants at home. We believe this will serve as a great learning experience for all as well as possibly stimulating interest in and conversation about the who, what, where, when and whys concerning our nutrition.

Theobroma cacao - Chocolate plants now available for sale at the T.R.E.E. e-bay outlet.

Under the Chocolate Umbrella Part II

Experimenting with different soil organics under the Theobroma cacao canopy - It was exactly two months ago that the first part of this experiment was presented. We started 3 cacao (chocolate) seeds in FoxFarm's Ocean Forest potting soil. One was left in the Ocean Forest soil only, the 2nd received a 1/2 teaspoon of Great White - Mycorrhizae, while the 3rd sample was supplemented with Native Nutrients 100% Mushroom Compost.
After only 2 months of growth we have noticed some measurable results.
Our control cacao plant in only potting soil had much more vigor and growth than the sample with added mycorrhizae. Mycorrhizae does not supply any nutritional value so as of this month we will be adding fresh potting soil on a monthly basis along with the continued supplement of 1/2 teaspoon of mycorrhizae and growth will continue to be documented. The control cacao did NOT receive any added soil until this month, so if the mycorrhizae has any effect, then it should illustrate itself in its sample for it is the only variable between the two.
Cacao with mycorrhizae supplement
Control cacao with only Ocean Forest soil
 The mushroom compost seemed to have a positive impact on its cacao sample. It shows the most significant growth in thickness of stem, deepest green leaf coloring and significant noticeable root growth. The only noticeable negative was considerable leaf burn. There was also some noticeable leaf damage on the oldest leaf only of the mycorrhizae fortified sample and NO leaf damage at all for the plain Ocean Forest soil sample. Interesting, but I have no clear reasoning for this yet, but it one effect being observed and documented.
The sample with added mycorrhizae is about one leaf behind the others and most of its leaves are smaller even they all germinated and have grown pretty consistently with each other until we started this experiment. We will keep an eye on this most wonderful economical plant. There is so much more to be learned from it.
Cacao sample with added mushroom compost

Mushroom compost view 2

Mycorrhizae sample view 2
Control cacao sample view 2
Root growth exhibited only by mushroom compost sample