Fungus and Plant Partnership
Hello fellow gardeners! I am excited to announce the beginning of an informal experiment we've started at Redwood Organic Farm regarding the symbiotic relationship between mycorrhizae fungus and 95% of the plants you want to grow in your garden.
I was captivated by a chapter of Mycelium Running by Paul Stamates that describes the process of mycorrhizal association with plants. The fungus colonizes the host plant's roots and thrives on the plant's waste products, sugars, hormones, and dead tissues that flake off. In exchange, the fungus brings distant nutrients and moisture to the host plant, improving root and plant growth, reducing drought stress, and can even aid in disease resistance.
I love playing with mycelium, so I decided to test it out. I developed three experiments with the following conditions:
1) seeds in pasteurized soil with mycorrhizal spores
2) seeds in pasteurized soil without mycorrhizal spores
3) seeds in non-pasteurized soil without mycorrhizae.
To pasteurize the soil, I started by bleaching and drying any buckets, trays and other tools to prevent contamination. Then I baked the soil slowly and at a low temp until the dirt was 180 degrees for 30 minutes. For the mycorrhizal condition, I simply laid the seeds down and sprinkled a few granules of mycorrhizae on top before covering it with more soil.
For each of the three conditions, I planted fifty cells of five different herb varieties that are known to form mycorrhizal relationships: Lemon Balm, Ashwagandha, Arnica, White Sage and Spilanthes. I labeled the trays and put them in our greenhouse to be watered regularly with the rest of our babies.
It's only been a few days so no news yet, but I'm expecting we'll see growth any day now. I'll be sure to update our progress with photos. Good luck little seedlings!!