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Beneficial soil fungus


The beneficial fungus, mycorrhizae...

Paul Zimmerman 
is an internationally known rosarian with interests in antique and heirloom roses. His Website (click on his name, above) has excellent links with information about roses, many of which do very well in our zones.

He is currently doing some research on the efficacy of using the beneficial soil fungus,
mycorrhizae, to restore the soil and ultimately the plant vigor in old rose beds. The illustration (left) shows the function of the mycorrhizae fungi as additional food gatherers for the roots of the plant. The link (below) from Zimmerman's site contains a very readable and highly informative paper available on the Website of RootGrow, a horticultural/agricultural business in England, regarding the benefits of using mycorhizzal innoculants to improve soil conditions for rose beds. 

Addressing conditions that might have led to problems in rose beds, the paper states: "Large scale soil removal and replacement is a labor intensive and costly operation and the imported soil may be of variable quality. It is also likely that imported soil will contain very few natural living beneficial organisms as it may have been stored in a large pile prior to delivery. If soil is not used by living plants then the beneficial organisms soon leach away..." 
 

Addressing conditions that might have led to problems in rose beds, the paper states: "Large scale soil removal and replacement is a labor intensive and costly operation and the imported soil may be of variable quality. It is also likely that imported soil will contain very few natural living beneficial organisms as it may have been stored in a large pile prior to delivery. If soil is not used by living plants then the beneficial organisms soon leach away..." 
 
Commenting on deep cultivation for weed control, the authors of the paper comment:"If weed control is achieved by forking over the soil in the spring, this will damage an active layer of mycorrhizal fungi down to 20cm (almost 8"). If weeds are regularly hoed off to a depth of greater than 2” or 5cm this will also damage native mycorrhizal fungi..." 

Drawing a direct line from mulch to soil health, the paper concludes: "Every year nature mulches plants through leaves falling off trees. This layer of low nutrient leaf litter is beneficial to many soil organisms, including mycorrhizal fungi, and without it the delicate balance of the soil is easily disturbed..."

The authors of the paper also comment on the problems of heavy, clayey soils: "Lack of available nutrients is particularly important on heavy clay soils, sandy soils, and soils with a low amount of organic matter or humus. The soil should always be enriched in these cases as roses are quite hungry feeders. Even in enriched soils the plant may not be able to extract enough nutrients early on in its life given its poor root system. The use of mycorrhizal fungi solves this problem..."

The entire paper is available. 

 Black Hills gardeners should know that mycorrhizae is available in small packs as a powdered innoculant for the (garden) soil and sold at several of the area greenhouses. It is also available in larger quantities (for use in planting windbreaks, for instance) in powdered form and also in a form for a root dip when planting bare root shrubs and trees from Warne Chemical in Rapid City.

News

Summer Food in Wintry February

 

16 Popular Foods You Didn’t Know You Could Freeze

1. Garlic – You can freeze whole garlic, garlic cloves or chopped fresh garlic. Frozen garlic does lose some of its texture, but the flavor remains intact.

2. Corn – You can freeze fresh-picked corn on the cob for up to one year. Pack it in freezer bags — husk and silk and all. For store-bought corn, husk and blanch it before freezing.

3. Avocados – The bad news is that frozen avocados lose their consistency. The good news is that they do not lose their taste, so you can use them for guacamole or dressing. Wash and halve them before peeling. Freeze as halves, or puree them with lime or lemon juice and then store for up to eight months.

4. Mushrooms — You can freeze raw button, creminis and portabellas mushrooms for later use. Chop and slice mushrooms and then spread them on a cookie sheet. Freeze. Then transfer the pieces to bags or containers.

5. Onion – You can save chopping time – and tears – by freezing onion for cooking later. Store peeled, chopped onion in plastic freezer bags. The best part is you can just toss them into your recipes without thawing them first.

6. Hummus – Scoop your fresh hummus into plastic containers. Then drizzle a thin layer of olive oil on the top to keep it from drying out. Thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours before mixing and serving.


more such winter gardening from Off the Grid News