garden5
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3062
Joined: Fri Aug 07, 2009 9:40 pm
Location: ohio

Put Some Fungi In Your Garden!

OK, I know some of you here have been reading Teaming With Microbes and participating in the book discussion (and those who haven't should), so you already know the all of the great benefits of fungi and their relationships with plants.

What do think; are there things you agree or dis-agree with?

It all seems right. However, it seems to present sawdust worked into the soil as a fungal mulch. It seems to me that sawdust worked into the soil and kept moist is a more bacterial mulch.

Also, while great for shrubs and perennials, annuals and vegetables supposedly prefer an equal fungi:bacteria ratio or a more bacterial ratio. This article kind of fails to clarify that. I wonder if all of this fungal mulching wouldn't be detrimental to a garden, assuming that it is balanced to begin with.
There's something new growing in the Helpful Gardener Forum! Become a part of it here!

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 27732
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 11:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

I definitely have a bunch of stuff to say about this, but I don't have time to put my thoughts together as we're in CRUNCH TIME. :eek:

I'll come back to this when I'm ready for a break. :wink:

User avatar
soil
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1855
Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2009 1:40 am
Location: N. California

we use a similar method with wood chips to how people make leaf mold. in the end its a nice water holding mulch rich in fungal life.

i would not use sawdust unless its WELL aged and even still prefer to make biochar with sawdust.

another good way to increase the fungal content of your soil is ramial chipped wood. it takes half a season to prepare but the soil is much better off from there on out, specially if you no-till it.
For all things come from earth, and all things end by becoming earth.

User avatar
jal_ut
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 7480
Joined: Mon Jan 19, 2009 3:20 am
Location: Northern Utah Zone 5

My take on sawdust: for the most part it is detrimental to a garden.
My take on fungi: Fungi is in your soil. It takes care of itself! After the bacteria gets done with organic matter, the fungi will work on it a bit more releasing some plant nutrients.

I think sometimes writers invent stuff to have something to write about this month. 8-D
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

User avatar
farmerlon
Green Thumb
Posts: 671
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 4:42 pm
Location: middle Tennessee

In my opinion, that article has some good information overall.
I agree with others (above) that you do need to be careful when applying wood (chips or sawdust) to the garden. However, when I read that article, it seems to me that they are primarily recommending using the wood products as a surface mulch, instead of "turning it in" to the soil. In those instances, such as mulching pathways, the wood is incorporated into the soil over time, after it has (mostly) decomposed.

Gardenerjeff
Newly Registered
Posts: 5
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2010 1:05 am
Location: Anchorage, Alaska

Sawdust mulch

Hi gang...jeff lowenfels from "teaming with microbes" here.sawdust tends to help bacteria though some fungi grow on it. Wood chips are better for fungi...

Merry Xmas!

Jeff
Teaming With Microbes: The Organic Gardener's Guide To The Soil Food Web

garden5
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3062
Joined: Fri Aug 07, 2009 9:40 pm
Location: ohio

I know what you mean, Jal. Sometimes writers to have to come up with something to write about, but I think that this article did have some good information to lend, especially for those who don't have an understanding on soil biology.

Farmerlon, I agree that fungal mulches are probably more effectively used as a surface mulch. All of the soil biology works in into the soil over time, anyway.

Thanks for stopping in, Jeff! Merry Christmas to you, too.
There's something new growing in the Helpful Gardener Forum! Become a part of it here!

tedln
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2178
Joined: Thu Jun 25, 2009 10:06 pm
Location: North Texas

I bought a dump truck load of saw dust used as horse bedding. I tried to amend my raised bed soil with it and it quickly depleted available nitrogen from my beds.

The pile of sawdust has now aged, weathered, and rotted for a year. When I add it to my beds now, it immediately propagates a flush of tiny mushrooms. I love to see mushrooms in my garden because I know the mycelium are working overtime below the soil surface. I believe the combination of fungal growth and beneficial microbial action in the soil prepare the soil for the next garden growth cycle. I attempt to improve my microbial action by adding substances like dried molasses. I don't attempt to support my beliefs or actions with scientific studies, but I try to evaluate the results in my garden.

Ted
I simply enjoy gardening!

garden5
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3062
Joined: Fri Aug 07, 2009 9:40 pm
Location: ohio

Ted, thanks for the info. Did you till it into the soil deeply each time? It sound like, from your second experience, that sawdust makes for a good compost addition so that it is rotted by the time you add it to the garden.
There's something new growing in the Helpful Gardener Forum! Become a part of it here!

tedln
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2178
Joined: Thu Jun 25, 2009 10:06 pm
Location: North Texas

garden5 wrote:Ted, thanks for the info. Did you till it into the soil deeply each time? It sound like, from your second experience, that sawdust makes for a good compost addition so that it is rotted by the time you add it to the garden.
By the end of a gardening season, the soil in my raised beds typically has declined by 2" due to organics decomposition. I mix the saw dust, fresh topsoil, and other amendments in a wheel barrow and then refill my beds with the soil mixture. I used to turn my beds over to incorporate the new soil into the old soil. I have found it to work best if I simply add the new soil to the top of the old soil without turning it in. The minerals and nutrients seem to migrate down into the old soil if applied in the fall for planting in the spring. By not turning the beds over, the earth worm activity and the fungal action in the old soil is not disturbed, but quickly moves up into the new soil.

Ted
I simply enjoy gardening!

garden5
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3062
Joined: Fri Aug 07, 2009 9:40 pm
Location: ohio

I know how you feel, Ted. I'm really believing that no-till is a much better way to go if you garden in beds. My garden is big to the point that I have to walk around in it, which means I compact the soil. Thus, I must cultivate it in order to loosen it up a bit......a vicious circle :roll:.

Did you notice in the article the garden illustration? In it, there were two small longs that were half-buried in the garden and it showed a lot of fungal mycelium radiating off of the buried portion. :idea: I never would have thought about that, but it may be something to try near plants that prefer a more acidic soil like strawberries and blueberries.

Anyone ever try this?
There's something new growing in the Helpful Gardener Forum! Become a part of it here!

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 27732
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 11:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

When I built one of my veg beds (not exactly raised), I surrounded it with trunk and big branches of a callery pear my neighbor cut down and buried thinner branches and leaves in the bottom. I had a lot of fungal activity the next season, including slime mold. Potatoes did great in there. 8) This summer, the logs along the sides started growing what looks like Turkey Tail or mock Turkey Tail mushrooms (I don't know for sure so I'm just letting them do their thing and have no intention of picking them).

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 27732
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 11:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

I'm currently re-reading Hayao Miyazaki's 7 volume graphic novel/manga Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. Highly recommended, especially if you've only seen the animated movie (GREAT but was limited to bits from the 1st and 7th vols.) 8)

Articles at FungiPerfecti are recommended reading too, as is Paul Stamets TED talk. :wink:

garden5
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3062
Joined: Fri Aug 07, 2009 9:40 pm
Location: ohio

Thanks for the confirmation on the log idea, Apps. I might try this for beds where I will plant some perennial berry bushes. From your reports, it sounds like actually putting some twigs in the planting hole would be beneficial as well.

Thanks for the reading recommendations, too.
There's something new growing in the Helpful Gardener Forum! Become a part of it here!

User avatar
soil
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1855
Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2009 1:40 am
Location: N. California

sounds like a hugerlculture bed a little applestar.
For all things come from earth, and all things end by becoming earth.

tedln
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2178
Joined: Thu Jun 25, 2009 10:06 pm
Location: North Texas

I'm finding the use of wood and wood products like sawdust in garden soil to be very interesting. The truckload of sawdust I purchased had supposedly composted for a year and was supposedly ready to amend my garden soil. It wasn't. It still had the appearance of fresh wood. It even smelled like freshly sawed wood with an occasional clump of horse manure in it.

The pile was in excess of four feel tall and it seemed impervious to penetration by moisture. I would sometimes check it after a heavy rain and find the moisture had not penetrated more than one inch into the pile. I had about decided to simply spread the pile over my pasture and let it rot away.

After about ten months of simply sitting in a pile, I noticed the pile had decreased in size by about 30%. I dug into the center of the pile and found that every grain of sawdust had changed from a raw wood color to a grayish brown color and it was all covered with a fuzzy fungi. Micelium had totally penetrated the pile and held the sawdust together in large clumps. No mushrooms were evident on the exterior of the pile, but the fungi were working hard inside the pile.

I am now using the sawdust again as a soil amendment and it seems to be working. My only complaint now is when the sawdust decomposes, it totally disappears. My beds which were amended with it the previous fall decreased in volume by the same volume of sawdust added. If I am going to use organics as amendments, I would prefer they last longer in the soil than the sawdust does. composted chips or even twigs or small branches may work for a longer period of time.

I've thought about using oak leaves but they don't seem to last long when added to the soil. My pasture is covered in a four inch layer of oak leaves which I can easily collect but I have noticed in the past they usually have rotted away by early spring.

Just my observations!

Ted
I simply enjoy gardening!

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 27732
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 11:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

soil wrote:sounds like a hugerlculture bed a little applestar.
Yep. :D I think I did that right after a flurry of discussion on that topic here. :wink:
(Didn't I say I'm easily influ-- ...er, INSPIRED? :>)

garden5
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3062
Joined: Fri Aug 07, 2009 9:40 pm
Location: ohio

Well Ted, I guess that means that they are an excellent microbial food if they disappear that quickly. After, they disappear because of microbes the same way that stuffed peppers disappear because of people......it's food, good food!

I wonder if coarsely shredded bark wouldn't be a good soil amendment since for some reason, I ted to see fungi growing on it more often than hard-wood.
There's something new growing in the Helpful Gardener Forum! Become a part of it here!

tedln
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2178
Joined: Thu Jun 25, 2009 10:06 pm
Location: North Texas

garden5 wrote:Well Ted, I guess that means that they are an excellent microbial food if they disappear that quickly. After, they disappear because of microbes the same way that stuffed peppers disappear because of people......it's food, good food!

I wonder if coarsely shredded bark wouldn't be a good soil amendment since for some reason, I ted to see fungi growing on it more often than hard-wood.
Many people use bark fines as the basis for their sterile soil mixes. Some tree varieties have bark that resists decomposition for years. Other varieties seem to decompose overnight. In general, bark doesn't seem to decompose as quickly as heartwood.

If I understand the process correctly, organics decompose into humis. The humis volume is significantly smaller than the original organic volume. The humis in turn either is or contains Humeric acid which causes the soil, containing minerals in a locked form; to release those minerals in a soluble form for the plants to use. If that is how it works, I am very happy for the sawdust to disappear.

Ted
I simply enjoy gardening!

garden5
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3062
Joined: Fri Aug 07, 2009 9:40 pm
Location: ohio

I just checked it out and you seem too be on the right track, Ted. Fulvic and brown and gray humic acids do have a volatilizing effect on compounds in the soil.

What's interesting is that even though sawdust has a very high C:N ratio, it still breaks down rather quickly. I'm wondering if this wouldn't make for a great "brown" addition to a spring/summer compost pile since "browns" are sometimes hard to come by this time of year.

Also, maybe it would be good to amend the garden soil with sawdust in the fall, so it has more time to use the nitrogen and break down before the plants are growing.
There's something new growing in the Helpful Gardener Forum! Become a part of it here!

DoubleDogFarm
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 6113
Joined: Mon Mar 29, 2010 3:43 am

I know how you feel, Ted. I'm really believing that no-till is a much better way to go if you garden in beds. My garden is big to the point that I have to walk around in it, which means I compact the soil. Thus, I must cultivate it in order to loosen it up a bit......a vicious circle .
G5,

I don't recall how large your garden is. If compaction, no till and soil biology is a big importance to you, why are we still tilling and walking on the beds? walk the talk

A little off topic and I'm being a EDITED - PLEASE REPORT THIS POST.

Eric

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 27732
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 11:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Eric, join us [url=https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewforum.php?f=43]here[/url]. You'll see G5's been spending overtime ruminating on the subject (and seems to be ready to take the first step :wink:).

DoubleDogFarm
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 6113
Joined: Mon Mar 29, 2010 3:43 am

Apple,

I'm glad you edited your post. I was thinking you didn't get my point. :wink:

Eric

garden5
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3062
Joined: Fri Aug 07, 2009 9:40 pm
Location: ohio

DDF, I've only recently began to look thoroughly into the benefits of gardening in beds instead of in a large patch. I know the concept has been right in front of me for some time, but I always dismissed it because I figured that more dirt means more crops. Well, it looks like I very well may be wrong.

However, we will have to discuss this elsewhere since this thread is starting to get off-topic.
There's something new growing in the Helpful Gardener Forum! Become a part of it here!

Return to “Vegetable Gardening Forum”