Reducing Fertilizers

thegardener's picture
Fungal spore & threads
Pine Seedling
Root colonized by mycorrhizae
Root without mycorrhizae

The Scarboro Garden Scene
Reducing fertilizers

Right plant, right location: we hear that often, but good soil is so important, as is the right fertilizer, but we can easily over-use it, which hurts our plants, and potentially our environment. In the wild, particularly in the forests, plant health is supported by networks of tiny threads of fungi that provide plant roots with better access to water and nutrients. We now see containers of fungal spores - MYKE® - in garden centres in Calgary, and this fungal growth supplement works with most plants we grow here (on line there are other products available with different fungal varieties focussed more on tree growth). The tiny, tiny, threads initiated from fungal spores provide a communication network, building a symbiotic relationship between plants and the fungus: plants provide glucose and sucrose to the fungus, and in return the colonizing fungus does three things. It increases the plant’s effective reservoir by absorbing moisture from micropores in the soil, improves soil texture and supplies nutrients that may be otherwise unavailable, phosphorus in particular: this symbiosis produces more vigorous plants, especially in Calgary’s alkaline soils. Although the fungi act more slowly than chemical fertilizers, especially at cooler temperatures, the networks reduce the need for fertilizers – and cause no pollution: if you use fertilizers with the micorrhiza, reduce the amount of fertilizer you use. The fungal spore supplement must be in contact with plant roots at the time of planting: try adding it to vegetable seedlings too, although it is ineffective when transplanting cabbage or beet family plants, and it will not colonize the roots of orchids, carnations, heathers, and plants in those families. Another benefit: look out for extra plant warranties offered with the product.
I must thank Premier Tech (producers of MYKE® ) and Dr. R. Sen, Manchester Metropolitan University for the images: look at them on our website if you can.

Glynn Wright,
310 words:
January 31st , 2015

  • March issue.