Encouraging and even introducing a fungus to your Garden sounds somewhat counter productive, even oxymoronish. Considering that in the lexicon of the average gardener fungus and fungi are words that evoke visions of dead and dying plants and decaying produce.
However in the ying and the yang of nature, there is a flip side to fungus. Beneficial Fungus - Mycorrhizal fungi, if you want to get technical Vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhiza. In nature fungi have developed a symbiosis with living plants, a mutually beneficial relationship that can be harnessed by the gardener for the end goal of Consistent higher quality yields of fruits and vegetables at diminished intervals.
Benefits of Mycorrhiza
Enhanced Nutrients Absorption.
Increased drought resistance.
Increased pathogen resistance.
Enhanced plant health and vigor.
Mychorizae penetrate the root systems of most plants in nature. They are helpful in providing improved uptake of water and nutrients. They help protect the roots from harmful pathogens and disease, and help to reduce the effects of Salt Build Up on plants.
Mychorizal Fungi cause the plants small hairlike feeder roots to branch out and thereby increase the nutrient absorption capacity of the root tips. Mycorrhizal fungi also cause the cell walls near the root cortex to thicken, making it difficult for pathogens to penetrate.
Introducing Mychorizae to Your Garden
Sprinkle Mycorrhizal inoculant directly on the roots of transplants or in with seedlings when they are planted.
Mycorrhizae, once present in a plant will produce 'hyphae', which are far reaching filaments that branch out into the soil hundreds of times farther than the roots they have colonized. The Mycorrhiza hyphae fillaments basically act as an extension of the plants root system, water and nutrients previously inaccessible to the plant is now available. The Mycorrhizaes presence also enhances the plants own root development. The plants reciprocate for this benefit by supplying glucose and nutrients to the beneficial fungus.
Optimal Conditions for Mycorrhizal fungi
One critical issue that presents itself when using beneficial fungus in the garden is that the activities of the gardener, yes you, is frequently detrimental to the fungi.
Tilling, hoeing, weeding, harvesting and so forth frequently rips apart the network of subterranean fibers created by the Mycorrhizal fungus.
Mycorrhizal fungus thrives in soils that are high in organic matter. They do poorly in soils that are loaded with chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. Well rotted Compost and organic mulch will encourage the establishment and growth of the Mycorrhiza fungi colonies.
Working organic matter into the soil by digging it in will harm and even destroy the fungal net. Try laying the compost on the soil surface, like a mulch, and allowing it naturally decay into the soil.
Plant Nutrient Deficiencies Most garden plant issues arise from insect and disease problems, nutrient deficiencies should only be treated when the disease and insect possibilities have first been explored. So long as the soil is relatively fertile and a proper soil pH is maintained Nutrient deficiencies are generally not a major problem.
Fertilizer Labels The numbers on any bag of fertilizer refers to the volume/percentage of primary nutrients found inside.
Egg Shells as Fertilizer Eggshells contain a large amount of calcium, as well as a small amount of nitrogen. Both of which are beneficial to the growth and development of healthy plants.
Hydroponic Mycorrhizae Mycorrhizae are very advantageous to plants, both in nature and in hydroponics, they cause the plants small hairlike feeder roots to branch out and thereby increase the nutrient absorption capacity of the root tips.
Wood Ash Fertilizer Wood ash is a good source of lime and potassium for your garden as well as many other trace elements that benefit plants. It is best used in moderation, scattered lightly and well mixed into your compost. Wood ash produces salts and lye and if not used sparingly can damage or kill your plants.
Epsom Salts as Fertilizer Epsom salts is comprised of magnesium ,sulfur and oxygen and in gardening it is used to correct a magnesium or sulfur deficiency in soil. Magnesium is necessary for seed germination, as well as the production of chlorophyll.
Urine as Fertilizer Fresh Urine is clean and bacteria free, it can be drank in survival situations, and astronauts drink it in a recycled purified form. A mixture of wood ash and human urine was found to perform as well as expensive commercial fertilizers, while being ecologically safe.
Coffee Grind Fertilizer Coffee grounds were once thought to be good only for acid-loving plants, such as tomatoes, blueberries and some fruit trees. However, a study conducted by Wood's End Research Laboratory in Maine found that when mixed with other yard waste .. compost ... the ph was neutralized. So basically raw straight coffee grinds are not a great idea, the acidity varies, in some cases it is too high even for acid loving plants . When added to compost, it wont significantly increase the acidity.
Earth Worms are an integral part of a complex network of organisms that turn leaves and other organic refuse into fertile nutrient rich soil. In garden soil, worm activity also enhances the soils porosity, which promotes oxygenation of roots and encourages beneficial aerobic bacteria.
Looser soil created by earth worm activity allows plant roots to penetrate further down into the soil to reach more nutrients and resources, which leads to stronger, vibrant, healthier and more productive plants.
References and Links
1. Scientific studies indicate endo mycorrhizal fungal populations are slow to recolonize, unless there is close access to natural areas that can act as a source of mycorrhizal spores to repopulate the affected area. Reintroducing mycorrhizal fungi in areas where they have been lost can dramatically improve plant performance with less water and fertilizer and at a reduced cost. Mychorizal Applications Inc.
The Effects of Mycorrhizal Fungi Inoculum on Vegetables
Collection of Scientific Abstracts related to the colonization of plant roots by Vesicular Arbuscular Mycorrhiza fungi in a hydroponics environment.