• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies living kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education experiences global resources the cider press projects digital market permies.com all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • raven ranson
  • Jocelyn Campbell
  • Julia Winter
stewards:
  • paul wheaton
  • Burra Maluca
  • Devaka Cooray
garden masters:
  • Anne Miller
  • Pearl Sutton
  • Joylynn Hardesty
  • Shawn Klassen-Koop
gardeners:
  • Joseph Lofthouse
  • Bill Crim
  • Mike Jay

Bacteria, Fungi and Nematodes Oh My!  RSS feed

 
gardener
Posts: 4961
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
582
books chicken dog duck fish forest garden fungi homestead hugelkultur hunting pig
  • Likes 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Getting the right mix of all the soil microorganisms can be somewhat tricky, especially if we don't really know which ones we want and more importantly which ones we don't want in our soil.
While it is pretty easy to make improvements to our soil, getting things right for any particular crop plant for most people is similar to gambling at a casino.
Since there are so many different methods published about improving the soil, making compost, fermenting stuff and even anaerobic methods, it is easy to use these tools the wrong way and that can mean disaster for your soil.
So l am going to go through what organisms, proper numbers of each organism for plant types and what is good for the soil and what is bad for the soil and Why it matters.

The best place to start anything is at the beginning, so we will go through the creatures of the soil food web and each one's place in the food chain (who eats whom and how this feeds our plants).

About 4.6 billion years ago, life began on this planet, it was after the creation of amino acids, polypeptide chains and RNA and DNA that Bacteria took shape and life began.
We know this from the fossil record and those first fossil forms are still being created today, by those same bacterial species.
From this fossil record we can safely say that the thing that feeds all other life, directly or indirectly is bacteria.
The next life form to show up was fungi, but this second life form didn't show up until about 1 billion years had past from the creation of bacteria.
Fungi fed on the bacteria and grew as long, strands in the soil that the bacteria had created from the rocks, by the way, water was already around when the bacteria popped on the scene.
Over the next few billion years, other microscopic creatures came into being and each new life form fed on the others.
Then plants came on the scene and found all this microscopic life around its roots and figured out a way to use the microorganisms to gather food for the plant to use.
Plants also figured out which organisms gave them the best foods and the plants devised ways to nurture those organisms.

After the bacteria and fungi came the protozoa then the amoeba, flagellates, nematodes and the microarthropods (springtails are a member of this group).
So in the critter eat critter world it works to; Bacteria are eaten by fungi, protozoa, amoebae, flagellates, nematodes and microarthropods.
Fungi are eaten by protozoa, amoebae, flagellates, nematodes and microarthropods.
Protozoa are eaten by amoebae, flagellates, nematodes and microarthropods, and so on down the road.
Then there is the curve ball that nature likes to use now and then, starting with the bacteria, there are parasitic species, which do the plants no good at all, and these we label as "the bad guys".
There are, as an example, root eating nematodes that will harm our plants unless the fungi are there to entangle and then devour those nematodes.
Along with the parasitic, there are the predators, fortunately we want the predators in our soil because they will keep the parasitic species to acceptable levels.

This behavior can be found at every level of micro organism life, and the only way we have to determine who is a good guy and who is the bad guy is the microscope.
The problem with this isn't that we can't tell which player is which, the problem is the amount of learning how to identify them through the microscope, it takes two to three undergraduate classes to get fairly proficient at it.
Even then you are well advised to purchase and use the several huge volumes of Microbiology identifier text books, none of which are under 75 dollars.

For those on a severe budget the library becomes a great tool, especially if they have a copying machine, the micrographs you are most interested in are the bad guys, then use the process of if it isn't a bad guy, it must be a good guy.
There are also acceptable microscopes that are within reach of most people, if you are interested in growing the best food crops possible (for your own use or to have enough to sell as well as supply yourself), you will want to own an adequate microscope.
Adequate in this meaning is a scope that has 2500X magnification capability. The step up model is one with EPI-Fluorescence for the light source, these are costly though, you can add this light source separately later on.
The average person will spend around 350.00 for the scope, slides, cover slips, stains and specialty tools for slide making.
The scope I usually recommend as a good starting point is around 250.00, it is designed Veterinary/Clinical use and has a good illumination module with iris.

Bacteria come in three main body shapes;
Round or spherical, flat and cylindrical (cigar).
Gram stain makes these easier to see and it also helps some with determination of type of bacteria.
For us to be able to actually tell good guys from bad guys we must have the EPI light source so we can differentiate them.
In the garden we generally want to know what numbers of bacteria and fungi our chosen plants desire to have in their soil because every plant type has different needs.
I'll go over the list in the next installment.

Fungi;
There are soil fungi and lignin fungi, that we are interested in, the lignin fungi are the wood eaters, the soil fungi are our prime interest, this is the portion that contains all of the soil food web species.
We are interested in the  networkability of the non-mycorrhizae since they are the ones that will knit with the mycorrhizae and transfer, plant to plant communications undersoil.
The mycorrhizae are the ones that hold our primary interest though and there are several types of mycorrhizae, some of which are listed below.
Ectomycorrhizal, and Endomycorrhizal, the two main catagories of mycorrhizae.
Ecto means exterior, that means these fungi wrap around the outside of the roots and link to other fungi hyphae in the soil.
Endo means inside, these fungi enter the cell walls of the roots and live there, connecting to the ecto fungi so they can move nutrients into the cells for transport up the stems.
There are Arbuscular, Monotrapoid, Orchidaceous, Ericoid and Arbutoid, which are all types of Endomycorrhizae.
If you grow Blueberries, you want to have a lot of Ericoid endomycorrhizae in the soil around their root systems.
Again, I'll go over the list of plant desires in the next installment.

Redhawk

Link to List of Bryant RedHawk's Epic Soil Series Threads
 
Bryant RedHawk
gardener
Posts: 4961
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
582
books chicken dog duck fish forest garden fungi homestead hugelkultur hunting pig
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Once we decide what plant type(s) we want in a specific area (garden bed or field) we can then check the soil to make sure the microbiome there is set for great growth of our selected plants.
If we want vegetables then we need to know the ratio of bacteria to fungi that those plants really want to help them thrive and stay healthy.

Veggies like there to be a bit more bacteria than fungi in their soil, this tells us a few other good to know things like, approximate pH desired, and highest used nutrients, in a perfect environment veggies want 600 micrograms of bacteria and 450 micrograms of fungi in every square inch of soil. Or a ratio of 7:5
If we want to grow things like corn and other "row crops" then we need to up the fungi count and reduce the bacteria count.
The numbers for these crops are 500 micrograms of bacteria and 800 micrograms of fungi.
When I am checking soil organism numbers for food growing gardens I usually look for a 1:1 ratio (50/50) this is because when this ratio is present, the plants you grow will, thorough their exudates, regulate the bacteria and fungi numbers so they are where that plant wants them to be.
This regulatory function of exudates is one of our biggest helpers as gardeners.

As we move up the "woody plant" ladder the bacteria numbers go down and the fungal numbers go up.
blueberries and other berry bushes want a 5:1 ratio of fungi to bacteria if we did a count of a square inch of soil we would want to find 600 micrograms of bacteria and 3000 micrograms of fungi.
Our fruit trees like plums, pears, apples, oranges, peaches, etc., want to find about 400 micrograms of bacteria ad 10,000 micrograms of fungi or a ratio of 25:1 fungi to bacteria.
When we get to the wood providing trees, normally termed as old growth forest trees, the ratio leaps to 333:1 fungi to bacteria or in that square inch of soil the numbers would be 300 micrograms bacteria and 100,000 micrograms fungi.

As you can see, fungi are the most important once we get into the more woody stemmed plants.

Conversely if we wanted to grow weeds the bacteria would far overshadow the fungal count 100 to 10.

But now that we know how much bacteria and fungi we want to find, the other part of the equation question becomes; which bacteria and what fungi are we wanting to find in our soil?

Redhawk
 
Bryant RedHawk
gardener
Posts: 4961
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
582
books chicken dog duck fish forest garden fungi homestead hugelkultur hunting pig
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
When it comes to the question "how do I grow bacteria and fungi to add to my soil?" it is possible to find at least 10 different methods, many of which are designed to grow all the wrong organisms.
To set people on the right track it is important to bring up Aerobic vrs. Anaerobic, the first means with air present and the latter means without any air.
The organisms we want in our soil are all aerobic organisms, they die, or go dormant without oxygen being present.

If you are growing Anaerobic organisms be aware that these are the pathogens and parasitic organisms preferred environment.
Fermented compost is not healthy compost and if you read the full instruction set for these methods, they all add air just before you use them and as you use them.
That's because those organisms we don't want can't survive in an environment filled with air.
If all you use are anaerobic methods, you will see some plant growth but you will be on an up-hill struggle, until the aerobic organisms get going well, which they might not do if they are overwhelmed by pathogenic organisms.
Pathogens secrete poisons to protect themselves, that means that before the good bacteria and fungi can really get going strong, they first have to overcome the defenses of the pathogens.
If this sounds like it might be counter productive for your plant roots and leaves and stems, you are correct.

If you were to go back through most all I've written on this site about the different methods, you should find mentions of add air for a few days before you use those anaerobic method composts.
All the good fungi and bacteria, nematodes and all the other desired organisms for good soil are air breathers.
While my own tests of methods like bokashi and other anaerobic methods have shown good nutrient values, the biology tends to suck until you add air to switch off the pathogenic bacteria and fungi and allow the good bacteria and fungi to take over.
None of the Anaerobic methods take into account the organisms, they only talk about the nutrients, which is the only good thing about those anaerobic methods.
Use those methods to get the nutrient values up, but don't forget to add air at the end, before you use them in your soil, that way you won't accidently give your plants diseases or make them sick.

Redhawk
 
pioneer
master steward
Posts: 5619
Location: Pacific Northwest
1698
cat duck fiber arts forest garden homestead hugelkultur kids cooking wood heat
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
When adding fungi to a garden/food forest, does it matter what type? In another thread, you'd advised me to "Water the first few times with water then make a tea and use that, (to really boost the microbes use tea once a month and maybe one or two waterings with mushroom slurry. " What type of mushrooms do I use? Do they need to be fresh? Are there bad mushrooms? I have a big ol' bucket of dried oyster mushrooms, could I use those? How do I made a mushroom slurry, anyway? Sorry for all the questions!
 
Bryant RedHawk
gardener
Posts: 4961
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
582
books chicken dog duck fish forest garden fungi homestead hugelkultur hunting pig
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
In the soil there are really no "bad" mushroom hyphae it is the fruits (the actual mushroom caps) that might be a problem.
I use a lot of different fungi fruits (I have something like 12 different species of wood eating fungi on my land and a few edibles) for making slurries.

To make a slurry a blender comes in very handy, I have an old one that is now used only for this purpose.
I fill the blender jar with the mushrooms (they do not need to be fresh) then I add water to about half way and cap and use the "Pulse" a few times then hit "Puree".
When it looks like all the mushrooms are chopped as fine as they are going to get, I turn off the machine, pour the "soup" into gallon milk jugs and go walking through the gardens or orchard drizzling the slurry around trees, through the middle of garden beds and anywhere else it looks like I need to add some.
This is something you can do anytime you have left over mushrooms that you didn't cook, dried ones work pretty well too.

One of my lands most plentiful is the turkey tail then the Jew's Ear is second to that, right now I have a few really large ones that I don't know the species of, but they will get whizzed up when I have the time, if animals don't eat them first.

Those dried oyster mushrooms are golden Nicole, especially around fruit trees, they will be super in any garden bed too.

If you have a not so great compost heap going, you can boost it by adding a little slurry to it, that will bring up the fungal side of the microbiome you are feeding in the compost heap.

Kola, you should know that just as there is no "silly" question there also is no such thing as too many questions.

Redhawk
 
Nicole Alderman
pioneer
master steward
Posts: 5619
Location: Pacific Northwest
1698
cat duck fiber arts forest garden homestead hugelkultur kids cooking wood heat
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I was thinking of putting some around my fruit trees, and maybe my blueberry hugel (which despite lots of woodchips, it keeps trying to grow grass and buttercup, not strawberries and blueberries!). Once this little one wakes up, we'll be blending some mushrooms! Thank you!
 
Bryant RedHawk
gardener
Posts: 4961
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
582
books chicken dog duck fish forest garden fungi homestead hugelkultur hunting pig
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Any time Nicole, always glad to be of help.

Pst. check my signature line.
 
Bryant RedHawk
gardener
Posts: 4961
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
582
books chicken dog duck fish forest garden fungi homestead hugelkultur hunting pig
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I should have added that if you know of any trees that seem to be doing far better than others of it's kind, take a shovel (or trowel) of that tree's soil and roots.
Trees that do far better than others of the same species usually are the ones with the best Mycorrhizae in and around their roots.
If you can take a sample of that soil with a few feeder roots, you have a mycorrhizae gold mine that you can either grow more or inoculate other trees with (just takes a tea spoon of that superior fungal soil at the roots of a tree) a bit of that soil to give them the mycorrhizae they might be missing.

Redhawk
 
pollinator
Posts: 1151
Location: RRV of da Nort
86
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Bryant RedHawk wrote:
Pst. check my signature line.



Does this mean you've officially passed your defense??......Are congrats in order!??
 
Bryant RedHawk
gardener
Posts: 4961
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
582
books chicken dog duck fish forest garden fungi homestead hugelkultur hunting pig
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Yep, yep, yep.
 
Posts: 154
Location: Huntsville Alabama (North Alabama)
6
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
congratulations Dr. Redhawk!!!
 
John Weiland
pollinator
Posts: 1151
Location: RRV of da Nort
86
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Bryant RedHawk wrote:Yep, yep, yep.




Congratulations and Best Wishes, Redhawk!

 
Nicole Alderman
pioneer
master steward
Posts: 5619
Location: Pacific Northwest
1698
cat duck fiber arts forest garden homestead hugelkultur kids cooking wood heat
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Congratulations!!! A very well deserved title! And, now the next time I mention you in the dailyish, I'll get to say Dr. RedHawk! :D
 
Posts: 86
7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Bryant RedHawk wrote:Yep, yep, yep.



Woohoo, very exciting!! Congratulations, Dr. RedHawk!!
 
Annie Collins
Posts: 86
7
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Bryant RedHawk wrote:
The organisms we want in our soil are all aerobic organisms, they die, or go dormant without oxygen being present.
Redhawk



So then if one wanted to use kambucha or kefir to add bacteria to the soil, it should be aerated first I assume.
 
Nicole Alderman
pioneer
master steward
Posts: 5619
Location: Pacific Northwest
1698
cat duck fiber arts forest garden homestead hugelkultur kids cooking wood heat
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We made the mushroom slurry! The kids were really excited about it, and wanted to pour it on the garden, too. I gave my son a measuring cup, and he dumped his one two different places, and then wanted more! My 1.5 year old daughter got a little plastic tea cup...and promptly spilled half of it on the driveway, and dumped the rest somewhere else...and instantly wanted more! I gave them both seconds--my son put his on one of his corn sprouts *sploosh!* I have no idea where my daughter deposited her's--probably in the lawn! Due to their rather ineffective--but very enthusiastic--"helping" I went inside to make a second batch so I could actually get some under my fruit trees. And, of course, they all wanted more to pour out, and they of course got some :D.

Who knew mushroom slurries could be so much fun! My son even drank some :-D Mmmm, oyster mushroom slurry!
 
pioneer
gardener
Posts: 421
Location: Sierra Nevadas, CA 6400'
120
dog hugelkultur trees woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Pst. check my signature line.



Congrats! I always hear the defense is the degree and the class time is just the preparation. I'm selfishly excited to have more of your time to dispense your knowledge out to the rest of us.

Trying to keep in line with this thread, do you know whether bacteria or fungi are responsible for breaking down pine needles? Or how to best break them down? I live in an almost completely conifer forest and I've inherited at least 10 yards of Jefferson / Ponderosa needles. I am determined to make use of them as compost and not send them to the refuse company (who thankfully does have separate compost trucks), but I've got at least 9 yards more than I need for mulch.
 
Bryant RedHawk
gardener
Posts: 4961
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
582
books chicken dog duck fish forest garden fungi homestead hugelkultur hunting pig
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
hau Kyle, conifers are very fungi dependent so the best way to "eat up" those leaves (needles) is with a good mushroom slurry poured on a big pile of them to make a nice fungal compost.
 
pioneer
gardener
Posts: 1236
Location: Middle Tennessee
205
books cat chicken food preservation homestead cooking purity trees
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Redhawk! Congrats on your Ph.D.! I know that was a long time coming, you've earned it and I'm so happy for you! I think that's so cool.
 
Bryant RedHawk
gardener
Posts: 4961
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
582
books chicken dog duck fish forest garden fungi homestead hugelkultur hunting pig
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Nicole Alderman wrote:We made the mushroom slurry! The kids were really excited about it, and wanted to pour it on the garden, too. I gave my son a measuring cup, and he dumped his one two different places, and then wanted more! My 1.5 year old daughter got a little plastic tea cup...and promptly spilled half of it on the driveway, and dumped the rest somewhere else...and instantly wanted more! I gave them both seconds--my son put his on one of his corn sprouts *sploosh!* I have no idea where my daughter deposited her's--probably in the lawn! Due to their rather ineffective--but very enthusiastic--"helping" I went inside to make a second batch so I could actually get some under my fruit trees. And, of course, they all wanted more to pour out, and they of course got some :D.

Who knew mushroom slurries could be so much fun! My son even drank some :-D Mmmm, oyster mushroom slurry!



Don't forget that your compost heaps will love a little drink too! It sounds like the kids were having great fun and doing your soil good at the same time. Woot!

The blue berries are very tuned into mycorrhizae, especially the arbuscular mycorrhizae. This particular type can be found in forests, and well growing blueberry bushes would be the ideal donor.
It takes about 1/4 cup of soil from the root system to inoculate two blueberry bushes with enough AbM to make them take off in one season of growing. From there, they will continue to get better every year.
Which reminds me that I  need to go into the forest and hunt some myco soil myself.  (if you find enough to do all your fruit trees and have some left over, you can store it in the fridge with damp paper towels to keep it moist for about 3 -4 weeks).
Sadly, mycorrhizae don't grow without roots to attach to, they don't die however, they simply hibernate. You can tell if you found some by close inspection of the roots in the soil sample (magnifying glass will work fine for this) the roots will have fine white "hairs" all around them.

Redhawk
 
Bryant RedHawk
gardener
Posts: 4961
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
582
books chicken dog duck fish forest garden fungi homestead hugelkultur hunting pig
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Annie Collins wrote:

Bryant RedHawk wrote:
The organisms we want in our soil are all aerobic organisms, they die, or go dormant without oxygen being present.
Redhawk



So then if one wanted to use kambucha or kefir to add bacteria to the soil, it should be aerated first I assume.



Yes, you want to have air contact all the bacteria so the bad guys will start dying off, we are fortunate that those can't survive well in an O2 atmosphere.

Redhawk
 
Nicole Alderman
pioneer
master steward
Posts: 5619
Location: Pacific Northwest
1698
cat duck fiber arts forest garden homestead hugelkultur kids cooking wood heat
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Bryant RedHawk wrote:
Don't forget that your compost heaps will love a little drink too!


It got a quick *glug* too!


The blue berries are very tuned into mycorrhizae, especially the arbuscular mycorrhizae. This particular type can be found in forests, and well growing blueberry bushes would be the ideal donor.
It takes about 1/4 cup of soil from the root system to inoculate two blueberry bushes with enough AbM to make them take off in one season of growing. From there, they will continue to get better every year.



Ah! Maybe I just need to go up to the top of my property where the red huckleberries grow in the cedar-y soil and steal some that soil for down by my blueberries. I did that a few years back when I planted mountain huckleberries (they were really sad looking, but perked up when I brought in the soil from the huckleberries...they still haven't bloomed yet, though...), and I did the same thing with some Cascade Huckleberries that I bought this year. I surrounded those 1 inch high plants with huckleberry soil, and none have died yet, which is rather impressive considering that they were 1 inch or less tall when I got them from the conservation district plant sale!
 
Bryant RedHawk
gardener
Posts: 4961
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
582
books chicken dog duck fish forest garden fungi homestead hugelkultur hunting pig
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Dang, I love all the huckleberry varieties, now I'm jealous.
Indeed, you have exactly what you need to do a superior soil inoculation there.
Try to get the inoculating soil touching the roots of the in need bush, that shortens the time period for the fungi to get to work.

Redhawk
 
pollinator
Posts: 2021
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
70
forest garden trees urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have one super healthy peach tree,one indomitable mulberry tree,and a handful of thriving black berries bushes.
Would soil from around the roots of any of these be good for inoculation of blue berries?
 
Bryant RedHawk
gardener
Posts: 4961
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
582
books chicken dog duck fish forest garden fungi homestead hugelkultur hunting pig
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
hau William, yes, soil from anyone of those three should have some mycorrhizae and that is always good for others to get a little of around their roots.

Studies have indicated that while there is possibly one specific arbuscular species that blue berries prefer, all of them are very beneficial to all of the berry bearing plants.

 
Posts: 146
Location: Boudamasa, Chad
10
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Solid stuff, Redhawk. I was thinking about taking courses in biology, but I think I'll just read your posts instead

Question: What happens to soil biology in an arid climate that dries out for months on end?
 
Bryant RedHawk
gardener
Posts: 4961
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
582
books chicken dog duck fish forest garden fungi homestead hugelkultur hunting pig
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
When we are growing vegetables we need more bacteria than fungi but we do need the fungi.
Vegetables need around a 1.5:1 ratio of bacteria to fungi, so our compost teas should reflect this ratio if possible.
It is, however, much easier to produce a 1:1 ratio which we can use everywhere and let the plants we grow do the adjusting for us.
We can, if we have the space, create composts heaps with varying organisms growing in the heaps, all it takes is understanding the needs of those main organisms we want to grow in any particular heap.
When we add manures from ruminants, horses, hogs, donkeys, sheep and goats, we are adding a fair mix of both bacteria and fungi so that makes it pretty easy to create a good generalist compost.
If we need to slant a heap towards bacteria we can use leftovers or even spoiled food, the trick with left over foods is to not go overboard on quantity.
The easy way to do this is to use three buckets of browns for every one bucket of leftover foods.
Milk is a good addition to a bacterial compost heap, it will also help out a fungal heap as long as you don't use very much at a time.

One of the biggest bad things that many people read about and then incorporate in their compost making is molasses, this is not what we want to add to a "normal" compost heap.
Molasses is great for those wanting to use either fermenting or anaerobic methods to acquire nutrient values, it is bad for wanting to grow organisms.
Organisms that like molasses are the ciliates and parasites, the organisms we do not want in our compost, compost teas or in our soil in great numbers.
If you are using food stuffs, you are adding all the right sugars already, so why go to the trouble of adding a simple sugar that doesn't naturally occur unless you are composting sugar cane?

Fungi are easy to add to soil, and they are the best overall addition we can make to soil because these are the guys that will help all the other organisms function to their best abilities.
The blending up of mushrooms with water and using these slurries to then water the soil around our plants and then over the whole area doesn't take a lot of time and a blender is your equipment.
Bacteria, amoeba, flagellates, nematodes and all the other soil organisms utilize the fungal network, it is the super highway, the telephone network and a food source for many of the microorganisms.
Fungi are also predators, they will entrap and devour those nematodes and other parasitic organisms we don't want getting to our plant roots.

Once we have fully bioactive soil, we no longer need to worry about "fertilizer" or even pests, fully bioactive soil keeps plants healthy, growing at their best speed along with providing all the nutrients the plants ask for.
This is because all the minerals any plant needs are in every soil on earth.
We have been taught by Soil Science that the only minerals available to our plants are the water soluble minerals, this is the Big Ag. point of view to get us to buy their artificial nutrients.
Many of the soil organisms produce enzymes to help them in their quest for food.
These enzymes break down rocks into their basic building blocks, which are minerals, so the bacteria or amoeba, flagellate or what every organism it is, can eat the minerals it uses for food.
The left overs are out there for other organisms, including our plants, to use.
When any organism is eaten by another organism, the left over nutrients are excreted and available for others to use.
What we end up with is a great circle of nutrients, the only ones leaving this merry go round are those we take for ourselves as food.
If we compost all our left overs and our manure, properly then return it to the soil, we have completed the great food web circle of life.
 
Bryant RedHawk
gardener
Posts: 4961
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
582
books chicken dog duck fish forest garden fungi homestead hugelkultur hunting pig
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Nathanael Szobody wrote:Solid stuff, Redhawk. I was thinking about taking courses in biology, but I think I'll just read your posts instead

Question: What happens to soil biology in an arid climate that dries out for months on end?



Soil biology will retreat from the surface to that area where there is sufficient oxygen and moisture for their activities to continue.
Bacteria can hibernate, that is, go dormant, for extended lengths of time. Many of the other organisms lack this ability and so have to either retreat deeper into the soil or invade plants like the cacti to survive.
If the microbiome becomes established well enough it is possible for the environment to change due to the added ability of the soil to retain water over extended draught, even though this water will be held deeper in the soil, the organisms can and do make use of the resource they created.

 
Posts: 21
Location: Noosa Hinterland QLD, Australia
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi There,

I was wondering in the case of a worm farm does the same apply.
That by adding more of a certain material you can make it more bacterial or fungal dominated?

Cheers for now
Anthony
 
Nathanael Szobody
Posts: 146
Location: Boudamasa, Chad
10
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Bryant RedHawk wrote:Many of the other organisms lack this ability and so have to either retreat deeper into the soil or invade plants like the cacti to survive.



So I suppose the same would apply for semi succulents as well, such as baobab, cassava, etc?
 
Bryant RedHawk
gardener
Posts: 4961
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
582
books chicken dog duck fish forest garden fungi homestead hugelkultur hunting pig
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
hau Anthony, Worm  farming is a fairly different animal because it is the worms doing the process of decomposing.
If you have the composting worm, they are actually eating the bacteria that break down the food stuffs, in the process it appears to us that they are eating the food outright.
Worms will also eat fungi, but that isn't really their favorite food organism.
Worm castings are so good for the soil, there really isn't a need to try and add fungi to that mix, there will be spores, especially if you use ground litter as their bedding material or even part of it.
 
Bryant RedHawk
gardener
Posts: 4961
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
582
books chicken dog duck fish forest garden fungi homestead hugelkultur hunting pig
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
hau Nathanael, yes most of the succulents can be found with pockets of organisms around their roots when the naturally occurring draught times hit.
The beneficial soil organisms don't actually get inside the plant proper, they go to the root system, that gives them a pathway that is easy to follow to a water source.
Keep in mind that these organisms don't need nearly as much water as might be thought. It is more important to have around half of the moisture an earthworm likes.
 
John Weiland
pollinator
Posts: 1151
Location: RRV of da Nort
86
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Bryant RedHawk wrote:
The beneficial soil organisms don't actually get inside the plant proper, they go to the root system, that gives them a pathway that is easy to follow to a water source.



Just a quick addendum perhaps....I'm not sure what the situation is for succulents, but it may be different.  You are correct that many beneficial soil organisms don't inhabit a niche within the plant tissue (and perhaps strictly speaking a "rhizosphere microbe" would not) but there are some that do.  An example would be bacteria in the genus Bacillus and fungi in the genus Acremonium that by definition are 'endophytes' and can multiply both inside of living plant tissue as well as saprophytically on organic matter.  It's pretty amazing how some of the specialized life cycles have arisen, some absolutely requiring living plant tissue whereas other being able to go between the soil and the plant at different times.  But the end result is often the same.....from the perspective of the plant, a beneficial organism gives that plant an 'edge' in the face of environmental and competitive stress.  Liking the discussion here on getting good ratios of bacteria and fungi in the soil....an area that would benefit growers everywhere.
 
Bryant RedHawk
gardener
Posts: 4961
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
582
books chicken dog duck fish forest garden fungi homestead hugelkultur hunting pig
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
That is very correct John,

The difference is the place the organisms do their best work.
In the case of bacillus and Acremonium that place is the interior of the plant proper, not the root system.
These organisms help in the actual transport of nutrients up the xylem in the case of the bacillus, the Acremonium appear to prefer the phloem, the other part of the plant vascular system.
The succulents probably make use of these two as well.

In my experiments it seems that for us to do the best for our soil we should start with the fungi additions then follow up with a good mid-line tea that is close to the 50/50 mix bacteria and fungi.
This method allows the fungal network to get a jump start in the soil, making use of the currently present bacteria and other microorganisms.
Once we add the 50/50 mix the bacteria will adjust to their right ratio due to the plant root exudates, the fungi  will also self adjust by either moving into direct contact or moving slightly away from the roots, depending on the role the particular species of fungi performs.

Mycorrhizae are being found to be primary water suppliers to all plants, even those previously thought to be more bacterial inclined, this is a revelation that really exposes the vastness of fungal species in really good soils.

Redhawk
 
Nathanael Szobody
Posts: 146
Location: Boudamasa, Chad
10
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I find that when I mix manure and straw in a garden bed or mulch pit. There are always abundant fungi. Is this just as good as doing teas?
 
Bryant RedHawk
gardener
Posts: 4961
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
582
books chicken dog duck fish forest garden fungi homestead hugelkultur hunting pig
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Probably even better since you are providing fungi foods. Teas are for adding organisms over providing the amendment upon which they feed.

Redhawk
 
Posts: 5
Location: Wanaka, Otago, New Zealand
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Bryant RedHawk wrote:

Even then you are well advised to purchase and use the several huge volumes of Microbiology identifier text books, none of which are under 75 dollars.

Link to List of Bryant RedHawk's Epic Soil Series Threads



Thankyou so much for your fabulous posts. I devour them! There is so much practical clear advice in them for those of us beginning our journeys into this very important facet of food and planetary health.

I’m an ex microbiology technician in the food and pharma industries and have recently bought a good quality microscope for tea and soil analysis. I’m having trouble working out which textbooks would be best suited to this work as far as help with improving id goes. Do you have any suggestions or recommendations for us newbies?
 
Bryant RedHawk
gardener
Posts: 4961
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
582
books chicken dog duck fish forest garden fungi homestead hugelkultur hunting pig
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
number one


Soil Microbiology vol. 2
  (try to also get vol. 1)

Another good one to have


Bacteria in Agrobiology


The links are to photos of the covers.
Those would be a good start

Redhawk

 
AnnaK Simmonds
Posts: 5
Location: Wanaka, Otago, New Zealand
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thankyou! I’m going to need a mortgage to get them to New Zealand! But thanks very much for the reply. Earth blessings to you.
 
Posts: 27
Location: Cape Town
4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Dear Dr Redhawk, thank you for your very enlightening series of posts! I wanted to say I have used kombucha to breed microorganisms for the past six months with great success! I hear what you are saying about anaerobic conditions but so far this has worked well for me. In fact I have a pot of garden kombucha, I make special teas for it, this time of year chiefly stinging nettle and alfalfa, as summer comes it shall be comfrey and yarrow. I think the secret may be in the earthworms, I have grown seedlings with this mixture - too acid for the brassicas but tomatoes love it - and when I transplant them the pots are positively crawling with earthworms. Could it be that they aerate it? Further confirmation for this theory comes from the fact that one has to be quite fanatic about mulching once a plant is watered with kombucha. I have assumed that what is happening is a larger population of earth worms require abundant food. Now that I come to think of it, my biggest successes have been with earthworm farms from which I am gradually fertilizing the garden. Which sings a natural mystic, I truly get what you are saying about microorganisms being the internet of plants. It is as if I have given them back their language.

I also build compost heaps, largely green, in the middle of which I scoop out a hollow, fill it with half ripe wormcastings and water more kombucha. The pumpkins I have planted there require lots of nitrogen to do well, I had ascribed it to the newness of the heaps. Was trying hotbedding as a means of capturing some winter rains for the summer plants. As the weather warms up and nitrogen becomes  more available I have high hopes. Shall keep you posted. In the meantime I shall feed and water the wormfarms and observe them well.
garden-kombucha-worms.jpg
[Thumbnail for garden-kombucha-worms.jpg]
under a seedling pot watered with kombucha
kombuchapumpkin1.jpg
[Thumbnail for kombuchapumpkin1.jpg]
watered with kombucha and fish manure
kombuchapumpkin2.jpg
[Thumbnail for kombuchapumpkin2.jpg]
kombucha and biogas digestate (anaerobically fermented sewerage)
kombuchapumpkin3.jpg
[Thumbnail for kombuchapumpkin3.jpg]
in open ground, planted in bucketful of kombucha'ed wormcastings
indigenousfungi.jpg
[Thumbnail for indigenousfungi.jpg]
this requires a full grown sweetthorn and lots of birdshit so takes about 7 years
 
Hey, check out my mega multi devastator cannon. It's wicked. It makes this tiny ad look weak:
Food Forest Card Game - Game Forum
https://permies.com/t/61704/Food-Forest-Card-Game-Game
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!