First off a hello to everyone in the forums...hey!
Just so everyone knows I’m a total newb here so I don’t understand some terms lol. Alright so here’s what’s going on. I have about an acre and a half of flat land that I want to convert from clay soil to fertile soil.
I’ve gone ahead and already dumped about 50 trucks of mulch and spread that all out to about a 12” height on the 11/2 acres. Now its been about 6 months since I started and I’m starting to get different kinds of fungi growing from the mulch.
There only active at night. By 7 in the morning they all die back. During the day you see these remnants of the spores on the mulch from where the fungi have grown. Some are like a yellow powder, some are like a black stain, some are a transparent mushroom looking one.
So my question is, is this normal? Should I have inoculated with good microbes and fungi earlier? Is it to late now and I’m dealing with bad microbes and fungi? Do the bad microbes and fungi not improve soil conditions?
The same thing happened to me with the mulch and the fungi. Having looked into it a little bit it's probably the best possible scenario for you and the world.
I posted a video on here of me spraying some of the yellow slime mold growing on the woodchips in the yard. When I sprayed it a black cloud of spores shot out! It was actually very neat to see. I'd link it here, but it's mainly just meaningless drivel.
I just watched this lecture about fungi yesterday. Really fascinating ideas.
This is worth watching.
The guy is passionate about fungi, and he is on to something. Paul Stamets.
Seeing fungi in those wood chips is a beautiful thing. Even the funkiest and nastiest dog vomit fungi are doing good stuff. Very likely, there already were fungal networks below the soil, just waiting for the free lunch you've provided them. They are breaking down all that amazing carbon and transferring the nutrients down into the soil profile. There really aren't any bad microbes or fungi. Fungal spores are all around us, floating through the air and constantly landing on things. A single mushroom can cast off hundreds of millions of spores. So it's not really a concern to inoculate with the "right" spores. Nature will provide what will work in your particular climate. The same goes for microbes. There are literally millions of different micro-organisms in the soil. All the microbes your soil needs are already present, either active or dormant (just waiting for the right conditions to wake up). Microbes are in the digestive tracts of the worms, bugs, birds and animals that move across your land. They blow in with the wind, they "climb" up from the soil, and they can even wash down onto your soil (from trees and other sources) when it rains. Bacteria is everywhere, including all over the mulch that you've brought in. So, no, you need not inoculate.
Would spreading a bit of compost around contribute to the microbial mix? Of course, but that's really not necessary. If you've got a neighbor with a big pile of manure and an old fashioned manure spreader, that would be a way of getting a zillion microbes spread all over, but again, it's not necessary. Compost teas and such are a fast way of doing what nature will do on her own if you just give her a bit of time. All the fungi and microbes your soil needs are already reproducing and making themselves at home. You are doing exactly the right thing—spread the mulch, let it rain, and then wait! Bravo. The earthworms are down under all that mulch multiplying like crazy and having a grand time integrating the carbon into the clay below.
Next step is to get some roots growing down into the soil. You might consider planting a cover crop, perhaps as soon as the summer heat starts to let up a little bit. You'll need to dig the chips back a bit until you get to the original soil (which should be significantly enhanced already by all the mulch), and sew the seeds at that level. There are cool season grasses and legumes that thrive deep into the winter, particularly in South Florida. Consider doing some experimentation with a variety of plants. Keeping a living root in the ground is important in feeding the microbial community, because plants supply sugars and starches to the microbial herd. The more variety, the better.
Just a semantic correction: you talk about turning clay soil into fertile soil. Clay is tremendously fertile. I would have expected sandy soil in South Florida --- be very glad that you've got clay rather than sand. Clay molecules are negatively charged, so they grab onto positively charged molecules of nitrogen, potassium and other nutrients that your soil needs for fertility. But you've got to have carbon in the soil to break up those tightly packed chains of clay particles. Worms and plant roots will do that for you—they'll integrate the carbon down into the soil profile. Bryant recommends considering a one-time till. I'd respectfully (and I mean RESPECTFULLY, as the man knows his stuff) and gently disagree. If you till wood chips or other mulch under, it will tie up your nitrogen for a year or so while it breaks down. If you'll be patient, the worms will move the carbon down into the soil profile soon enough. You'll be ready to plant in spring. In the meantime, there is enough fertility present that you can begin planting a cover crop or individual plants --- just pull the mulch back to reveal the soil (you don' want to plant in the mulch itself).
Rock on. Sounds like you're going to have tremendous soil.
"The rule of no realm is mine. But all worthy things that are in peril as the world now stands, these are my care. And for my part, I shall not wholly fail in my task if anything that passes through this night can still grow fairer or bear fruit and flower again in days to come. For I too am a steward. Did you not know?" Gandolf
posted 2 years ago
sorry i didn't answer you guys sooner i wasn't sure how to reply lol...anyways
i took some pictures of the fungi but the pictures jan white posted are about right. mine aren't as bright yellow or so abundant but its similar. so thats good news.
i was thinking about doing a one time till like bryant said and mixing the chips but with the nitrogen tie up marco banks is talking about, plus the added effort of tilling i don't really think its worth it. either way i did buy some beneficial fungi and microbes from a company mycoapply to inoculate the land. that should speed it along its way. how much faster does the breaking down process go with the mycorrhiza?
its also an endo strain. is the endo strain beneficial to all the different plants in a food forest type setup?
im sorry maybe you've already answered that question lol.
another question for marco as to the cover crop... after i move aside the mulch and plant will the ground cover overtime take over the mulch and become a living mulch?
and thanks to scott for that video ill watch that later on today.
you very well could have brought in some pathogens with those fifty truck loads of wood chips.
My first thought when people are worried about fungi in the garden is that it's an example of fungi/microbe paranoia that our society has and that it's probably fine UNLESS they brought in a bunch of wood chips from certain sources.
I knew a guy who had all kinds of wood chips dropped off at his place for free but not from reputable mulch suppliers. he all of the sudden had honey mushrooms growing all over his land. They are the only edible mushrooms that is also a plant pathogen.
It is likely that the tree service he got them from was chipping trees that were being cut down because they were diseased. He made a deal with them They They could dump chips at his place. Might not have been a good idea.
Sounds like dog commit and inky caps though, but do keep an eye on things.
No, endomychorizal fungi do not form associations with all plants. Some associate with endo, some with ecto some with both very few do not form associations with either.
it is also not likely to work well as inoculum, but will have a short lived effect.
You will notice that mushroom cultivation don't buy bags of inoculum to grow mushrooms, and that is because that's not at all a viable way of growing fungi.
The product itself, depending the product, may contain enzymes and beneficial compounds that were produced by the fungi in the ideal laboratory conditions. If so those enzymes etc will have a short lived effect that you notice that makes you think that it is working, but it doesn't.
Fungi and bacteria are very specific to conditions. And if they are viable by the time you ad them to your soil, and if they germinate they will likely get devoured and/out competed by wild strains. Like you said there is tons of wild competitor strains already visable that will fight your lab grown stuff for the space and nutrients.
But chances are it will not even work.
Oregon state has done several studies on several occasions through out the year on all of the top microbial products. Some are well known, all from well known manufactures and found that they can not usually detect any viable spores or cfu's in the products, and when they do have viable spores or CFUs it fall well below the label claim. Way below; They may detect 100 where the label claim is 10,000,000 per cc.
I can't actually post the pdfs I have from Oregon's Ag dept but I can post a link to a search page that should have a few of the paperwork their test results.
Most people I've shown found it disturbing but as a mushroom cultivation and natural farmer I found it as validating because I've always said that there is several reasons they won't work.
I've also run my own best on a few different products by trying to culture the organisms in the product. The ones that did work were week, very week and could never make it in the wild except for strains of the bacteria bacillius I grew from a couple products, mosquito dunks was one of the products, and I think the other was another strain of bacillius from the brand "safer".
It is the second link on the list that is not a sponsored link.