Mycorrhizal Fungi

Did you know that fungi are good for your garden? I had mentioned about adding our own beneficial fungi to the soil. You can do this either right after mulching or just before; I normally do it before but if it happens later, no big deal. More and more, beneficial organisms like mycorrhizal fungi are becoming available to the home gardener. Discovered in the late 1800’s and pretty well documented by the 1930’s, these symbiotic fungi were lost in the rush to “modernize” the garden (i.e., dump chemicals all over it). Fungus was a bad guy that we could kill off with the latest wonder product, not something to be promoted, and the research went dead for years. But with the renewal of organic practice to the garden scene, mycorhizii have again started to gather attention.

What Mycorrhizal Fungi Are

Mycorhizii are different species of fungi that help a plant with different tasks; some help with water uptake, some with making fertilizer available, some with gas exchange, etc. They require organic content in the soil, but in exchange help your perennials to grow and flourish. Some strains are better for flowers, some for shrubs, some for evergreens, so make sure you get the right strains.

The other benefit to introducing beneficial fungi to the soil is that it leaves no room for the bad guys like phytophtera or botrytis (this is known as “biological counterculture” in scientific circles). A fancy way to say, “no room at the inn,” but any way you say it, mycorhizal supplementation is the way to really modernize your garden and take care of the environment as well. You must feed and care for mycorhizii, but they like the same things your plants do, so if you water and fertilize regularly, your soil flora will stay as healthy as your garden flora.