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"Transplanting" Forest Soil to my Garden

 
Paul Fletcher
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Hey all! Long time lurker- mostly because my questions get answered with the search function! Thank you for all your knowledge and advice.

So hopefully I haven't missed a thread already discussing this: My question has to do with mycorrhizal fungi. After learning about the amazing benefits it provides to plants, I'm keen to introduce it into my first year garden this spring. I know there are many commercial products available, and were I to use one, I think I'd purchase it from fungi.com. But, that being said, it seems as though this fungi is already present in natural, healthy soils. And I'd first and foremost like to provide additional healthy habitat for the mycorrhizal fungi native to this habitat. I also know there is an incredibly complex web of life present in healthy soil, far beyond just the fungi. So that being said.. Would collecting a few shovelfuls of healthy soil from a forest, and introducing it to my garden, in effect act as a "transplant" for these helpful critters, bacteria, and fungi? Assuming that I'd provided them a habitat that they found to their liking of course! Has anyone tried this?

Thanks for the wisdom.
 
Adam Klaus
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gardener
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Location: 6200' westen slope of colorado, zone 6
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Hi Paul-
Yes, I have tried this with great success. The most strikingly successful experiment I did was applying spruce needle forest compost to my strawberry and raspberry plants last summer. The plants absolutely thrived! There was a huge difference in the health and happiness of the plants after this application. I believe that the reason was specific mycorhizal inoculations that occured from the spruce needle forest compost. I simply mulched and inch or two deep, and left in place around the berry plants. I cannot overstate the extent of the success of this experiment.

In past years, I have applied cottonwood tree leaf compost, mixed with wild turkey manure from the wild turkeys that roost in the cottonwood tree. The results were much more standard. I applied this to garden and greenhouse, and I cannot say that there was a marked improvement over simply using standard compost-based fertilizer. Dont get me wrong, the results were good, just not off-the-charts excpetionally spectacular, like with the spruce mulch and the berries.

Overall I think that utilizing small amounts of forest soil is a great technique for intruducing mycorhizal content to our soils. As in all things, please experiment and report back.

good luck!
 
John Elliott
pollinator
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Transplanting soil works, but collecting mushrooms works better. A shovelful of soil contains nematodes, collembolans, arthropods, maybe some earthworms, so you are getting lots of life along with the hyphae and fungal spores that may be present in the soil. But a handful of mushrooms contains millions, maybe even billions of spores that can generate the life at the base of the food chain.

One advantage of the shovelful of dirt is that you are getting the mycorrhizal fungi that don't form fruiting bodies (mushrooms) like the genus Glomus. But many of the fruiting fungi also form mycorrhizal associations, most notably Boletes with oak trees. I like to collect up boletes from under all the oak trees in the parking lot of the local mall and use them to inoculate my soils. And like Adam says, you will see a marked difference when you do this.
 
John Polk
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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I would like to add that in your wandering of the forest to get your soil, if you come across a rotting log laying on the forest floor, make sure to collect some of the soil from under that log. It should be supercharged with life.

While this fungi rich soil may be a Rx for your perennials, it may not be what your annuals will do best in.
From what I have seen, many annuals prefer a bacterial soil vs a fungal soil.

 
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