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bacterial & fungal composting  RSS feed

 
kristina summer
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I thought that if I compost straw and farmyard manure with a sprinkling of leafmould throughout it, that I'd get the wonderful benefits of both bacterial and fungal compost.

However, I've read different views on this forum about whether one of them would inactivate the other. I'm stumped now. Does anyone else think this is a good idea or bad idea?
 
S Bengi
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Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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Dry leafmold is high in carbon and low in nitrogen.
So as long as you have enough nitrogen/manure then it will not make a difference.
I am not too sure that it will help with the fungi population by alot. Compost encourages bacteria not fungi.
Overall I would say give it a try. I dont think it will hurt.

 
kristina summer
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I imagined that the fungi from the leafmold would enjoy the damp straw and happily proliferate in that pile!

I can get hold of used straw easier than I can leafmold and so I was just hoping I may be able to cultivate some of the wonderful fungi supplied by leafmold. It's not a common topic and so difficult to find information - bacterial composting is the general practice of gardeners.
 
John Elliott
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kristina summer wrote:I thought that if I compost straw and farmyard manure with a sprinkling of leafmould throughout it, that I'd get the wonderful benefits of both bacterial and fungal compost.

However, I've read different views on this forum about whether one of them would inactivate the other. I'm stumped now. Does anyone else think this is a good idea or bad idea?


It's not that one inactivates the other, but rather that they are complementary and work different niches.

Bacteria multiply rapidly when the conditions are favorable for them; fungi work slowly and can take years to decompose a tree.
Bacteria can't move around and use the nutrients nearby; fungi develop long strands of hyphae that can transport nutrients over long distances.
Most bacteria don't produce anti-fungal chemicals, they compete by overwhelming fungi with sheer numbers; lots of fungi produce anti-biotic compounds that help them compete by shutting down a metabolic pathway in bacteria.
Bacteria really like rotting meat, with all that nitrogen from the protein; fungi metabolize mainly cellulose and lignin, which are made from carbohydrates and survive in much lower nitrogen levels.

If you are growing a crop of biennials, say beets or cabbage, the soil is colonized mainly by bacteria. If you go to an old growth oak forest, the soil is colonized mainly by fungi.

What you are doing with your straw and manure and leafmold is just fine. As long as you keep supplying new food to the soil food web, it will grow and adapt to support the food plants that you are encouraging.
 
kristina summer
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Thank you for putting that so clearly. I think I understand it now.

But what about hugelkultur beds? Just earth & wood stuff. People seem to be singing it's praises for the wonderful vegetable crops they get from it.

I was always puzzled about hugelkultur because non-hugelkultur people who grow vegetables on the ordinary earth (with flat ground) work hard to make compost to enrich the soil.
 
S Bengi
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Hugelkultur beds are normally not that great the 1st year.
hugelkultur does include wood, dirt and in addition compost and manure and mulch so you are getting the best of both world.

Why are they so good.
They store water in the spongy wood, so you can wait longer between rain/watering.
As the wood rot it releases its minerals for the veggies to get.
The soil has more fluff, so the roots and good bacteria/microbes get extra oxygen/CO2 exchange.
You also get all the regular manure/compost benefits.

 
John Elliott
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kristina summer wrote:Thank you for putting that so clearly. I think I understand it now.

But what about hugelkultur beds? Just earth & wood stuff. People seem to be singing it's praises for the wonderful vegetable crops they get from it.

I was always puzzled about hugelkultur because non-hugelkultur people who grow vegetables on the ordinary earth (with flat ground) work hard to make compost to enrich the soil.


Just think of hugelkultur as 30 years of mulching. All at once. In the very beginning. Except instead of being on top, it's all underneath.

That's also a lot of work to build up and enrich the soil. But after the initial building of the hugelkultur, you aren't doing any of the work. Instead of having to collect greens and browns and compost them and turn the compost and spread the compost and dig in the compost, you let the worms and the beetles and the sowbugs and the fungus gnats and the millipedes do all the work for you.
 
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