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How many people intentionally include microbe inoculation when they plant?

 
master gardener
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Good Afternoon!

I wanted to see when planting something how many people intentionally try and inoculate the ground with microbes. I have read a few books that talk about either creating a microbe tea, swamp water, or literally transplanting dirt from a grown tree and placing it in a planting hole. How many people actually do this? What are your results? Any other thoughts?

I might start rolling this out in my considerations as I plant fruit trees and shrubs this upcoming spring.
 
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I do two things, but I haven’t done systematic trials to be able to say what my results are. These are for annual vegetables, not fruit trees.

1) I do nothing like sterilizing the seeds I save. I want all the endophytes laid down by the plant to remain on the seed coat.

2) I sometimes toss seeds in fresh worm castings before planting them (I think based on Dr. Christine Jones’ suggestion).

(I have also used commercial inoculant for beans and apples, but I mostly don’t.)
 
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Christopher Weeks wrote:
1) I do nothing like sterilizing the seeds I save. I want all the endophytes laid down by the plant to remain on the seed coat.



Yes! Sterilizing seeds has got to be one of the worst things you could ever do if the aim is encourage life. It starts with the seed.

I love conversations about microbes and can't imagine I'd be the grower I currently am without them. I wish I would've been in the process of considering bacteria and microbes when I started growing 10 years ago. Last year was a VERY dry year and I suffered lots of losses but the remaining trees, I believe, are alive because I put an emphasis on microbes. I did an experiment where I soaked a few seeds in microbes and those were some of the only plants that survived our heat and drought, I just ate my lone pink banana squash a few weeks ago, and I'm convinced I wouldn't have had it, had I not soaked it before planting.

There are microbe packs you can buy online and I've tried a couple but your best bet would be making your own. I have a compost bucket that I control that I never empty out that has been in use for 6 or 7 years. The only thing I put in this barrel is the good stuff I want to feed my plants with. (Oak bark, eggshell, leaves, yarrow, food scraps, bones, guts, clean grass, charcoal.) Worms have come in and made it a casting mix. The bottom few inches of the barrel is more like a clay than 'compost' that you can shape into a ball because it's malleable and doesn't look like most compost that might as well just be mulch. I've never looked at my compost under a microscope but my hunch tells me it's full of the good stuff. I also have a wood pile that I top off with more rotting wood every year and in the early Spring I'll push it a few feet on one side with the tractor and scoop the bottom couple of inches into the bucket. I can't describe how DARK the earth looks under this pile, and if we all had that type of soil around our trees we'd all be better off. The bottom of that wood pile is 100% wood compost, broken down, and it's the base of all of my soil mixes. I can't imagine how full of life it is compared to something you might see in a bag at a box store that is void of microbes or fungi.

I spent my evening yesterday collecting from my wood pile and my compost to inoculate the hole I dug for a plum sucker my uncle gave me. Our soil is absolute trash in some parts of our yard, but I noticed where I dumped wood chips two years ago that there was a mat of mycelium, I plugged my plum straight into this web... but not before I dropped a golf ball sized chunk of my best compost (bacterial, fungal, microbial bomb) right in the bottom of the hole and back filled with the black soil from underneath my wood pile. I can't imagine not using this practice when planting trees because it would just mean certain death for anything I planted. At least that's been my experience here and now I'm on the path to growing BIG fruit trees, not dead ones.

I think it was John "ghostman" Kempf (advancing eco ag) that said your best return of investment for microbes would be putting it in the furrow when planting. Just means as soon as your seed germs it's gonna have that microbial hitter to pull from. And I think Dan Kittredge has a video clip on YT titled something like "making your own soil inoculants". And if you have time listen to what both of them have to say they'll have you understanding microbes much quicker than I ever could. And Dr. James White. And Jeff Lowenfels.

 
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I don't know if this counts, but what you are describing is exactly what I am trying to do anytime I am sowing mushroom spawn into wood chips.  The mushroom compost is wonderfully fertile, not because the mushrooms themselves produce NPK, etc., but rather that the resulting sea of microbes harvest the nutrients already in the soil and bring it to my plants.  So while I don't specifically add any microbes, I do my best to attract them.

Eric
 
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Yes. I occasionally use powdered myco-doodah when seeding really tiny seed and using peat moss and new soil, when i want an especially even germination

but I prefer to steal soil under indian pipes, which is the same thing i think, and freeeeee

And have used the special one for blueberries/cranberries, ericoid mycorrhyzae

But now I have successfully transplanted wild blueberries I tuck my new seeds in with them. I have a zone 0 experiment with tenacious tiny blueberry seeds collected from along trails of cigarette butts which I was cleaning up for others

But typically I plant in a compost heap at least a few of special order important seeds
 
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Sorta impossible not to do as the seeds contain microbes.


 
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I have read about inoculation though I have never done this.

Creating a microbe tea, swamp water, or literally transplanting dirt from a grown tree.

I have done the latter as we call that leaf mould.  It looks like rich dark soil.
 
Ra Kenworth
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I have found it I crucial for blueberries and cranberries, the ericoid mycorrhyzae and also for transplanting wild orchids from trample zones
 
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I have started putting most seeds in compost extract before planting them out. The compost extract is simple, with Johnson-Su style compost (and any other good compost I have available), stirred into water. I do not have enough data to make any broad conclusions. The conditions vary enough to make any concrete conclusions difficult, with a lot of wild herbivores around. The seedlings of peas that I inoculated do seem to being growing vigorously, and my soil looks better in aggregation and porosity after compost extract inoculations.
 
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