Fungus amungus

TN_Jim

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Fred, I think I just insinuated you are a pole cat, my apologies :eek::oops:
 

Forsoothe!

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It's difficult to discuss "soil" with bonsai zealots, if for no other reason than the vast range of definitions of the that special bonsai four letter word used: soil. Mostly, it refers to bowl of rocks with some token organic or pseudo-organic stuff thrown in, much of which is from an assortment of bags. That the hosed root system installed in such may be deficient in some beneficial microbial life forms should be well understood. It ain't.

"Bonsai soil" as commonly used is originally intended to hold growth to the minimum, and the concept was created before a clear understanding of the symbiotic relationships of soil dwelling critters existed. One might presume that the Japanese saw that pines growing in the likes of crumbling mountainsides' rocks grew slow, and smaller than the type, but for long periods and they mimicked that, and pretty successfully. One could also speculate that, being gardeners and farmers, over time they evolved to adding some organic stuff like compost which would contain lots and lots of microbes, incidentally without species-specific microbes because there ain't no brother trees growing in a compost bed. As an interesting aside, the discussion above seems deficient because I'm real sure that if I plunk a tree in a pot of compost and feed the whole mess something like Miracle Grow it will grow like a weed, species be damned. And eventually, the pot will come to be occupied with beneficial fungi even if just left to its own devices just as the un-beneficials get in there sometimes. As long as there is air and wind and birds that don't wipe their feet, there will be fungi riding the common carriers hither and yon.

I, for one, do not accept the idea that feeding with non-organics ruins the relationships of plants with beneficial microbes, fungi and/or other critters. Non-organics are just N or P or K or whatever mineral in a predigested form. The microbes can present it to the plants, or the plants can use it directly. I don't believe that the microbes can't use them, I might agree that they don't need them in that state except the standard wisdom is to add non-organic N to any compost pile that is high in wood fiber. If someone wants to tell me that the microbes that use the non-O N in the compost are not the same or very similiar microbes that form beneficial relationships with specific species of plants, I say show me the specific research. That is not to say that there are not species-specific microbes that do that, but it is to say that they are all of similiar form and function and coincidentally join with plants, if present. The higher the volume of plants in a given plot of soil, the higher the content of microbes, and visa-versa.
 

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I forgot to mention that I incorporate up to 1% Bone Char in my potting mix, which provides more free C than required for normal growth and which ~balances~ non-O ferts. Bone Char is also high in P, ~16% or so. I only feed in tyhe growing season, April through August.
 

fredman

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@TN_Jim
Yeah I saw in my research that certain chemicals actually has a positive effect on certain AM. When it comes to to high levels of N and specificly P though, AM gets shunted out. The very reason the plant needs the AM does not exist anymore.
Looks like we'll have to agree to disagree...:p
 

fredman

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I, for one, do not accept the idea that feeding with non-organics ruins the relationships of plants with beneficial microbes, fungi and/or other critters.
Chemical ferts certainly do impede on the microbes. They can live with low amounts (those that they're used to), but the higher the concentrations the more it impacts on them. Fertilizers are salts and that has all kinds of negative impacts on them.
The same happens as with the micorrhizal fungi...when chemically fed, plants bypass the microbial assisted method of obtaining nutrients.
Chemicals and the soil food web don't go together.
If we think about it, the plants and microbes have evolved together for millions of years to get this perfect system that works for them. When the status quo is interfered with, that association is also interfered with.
Its a very intricate and fragile system down there and something as foreign as chemical salt poured into that mix disturbs the balance immediately.
 

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Chemical ferts certainly do impede on the microbes. They can live with low amounts (those that they're used to), but the higher the concentrations the more it impacts on them. Fertilizers are salts and that has all kinds of negative impacts on them.
The same happens as with the micorrhizal fungi...when chemically fed, plants bypass the microbial assisted method of obtaining nutrients.
Chemicals and the soil food web don't go together.
If we think about it, the plants and microbes have evolved together for millions of years to get this perfect system that works for them. When the status quo is interfered with, that association is also interfered with.
Its a very intricate and fragile system down there and something as foreign as chemical salt poured into that mix disturbs the balance immediately.
Perhaps we disagree with characterizations of what happens, but not the ultimate effect. Long ago, when I began getting serious about gardening I kept bumping into articles on this or that element which if absent, caused this or that growth problem. I began a list of these minors and it began to include elements that I used to think were deadly, like cadmium and lead and eventually when the list got to somewhere over 30, I got the message: almost every element is necessary in minute quantities to this or that plant, so I abandoned the list and assume now that the minors are just as important as the majors. I discovered Jersey Green Sand and Meneffe Humate and use it sparingly in all my growing. Too much of any element is just as bad as too little, or even worse, so when I discovered charcoal I bought sweepings from charcoal mills and added it my mix. Modern Bone Char is made even better and the C readily bonds with anything available. That ties up bad and good, but is especially helpful "cleansing" the soil. Plants and microbes don't use elements by themselves, they use elements as compounds. An element which is toxic by itself can be useful when bound somewhere in a chain like OHCNOCHPOHCOHCKHO, ad infinitum, and available if needed. The "cleansing" action doesn't remove the element, it binds it to C making it generally less available to be concentrated at toxic levels.

You characterize the effect of no-O N and P as diminishing the need for microbes, which disappear. I would characterize it as probably diminishing the microbe population by poisoning it. Every element is detrimental at some level, even water. In fact, too much water drowns microbes, too! Leave a handful of urea at the base of a shrub and see what happens. It's not the element, it's the amount. It's well established that it is easy to overuse P to toxic levels, but it's easiest to overdo N. I can believe that microbes could be very sensitive to either N, P or K, alone or in combination. What say you?
 

fredman

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I agree with you term much. Mother nature always works to balance itself. That's exactly why there is this enormous dust storms and excessive erosion on/over farmlands over the world. Those soils are devoid of any microbial life....fertilizer killed them all. All that's left is lifeless dirt. The only microbes left are the pathogenic ones. Even they are mostly in a dormant state. Interesting, I read somewhere the inventor of modern fertilizer (Liebig), admitted and later in his life stopped using it in his own garden.
No matter where plants grow, no matter what its seeds look like or what kind of leaves it grows, all it takes for that plant to survive and reproduce are a mere 17 of the naturally occurring elements. Just 17 elements sustain life - not just plant life, but yours and mine, as well. Some scientists say there's less. Macros in the greatest quantity and micros only in trace amounts. Are there more...maybe, but their exact functions hasn't yet been established.
Some plant do contain more elements, but the point is they can survive (and thrive) without them.
N is most important. Without it a plant can't produce proteins (the building block of life). Outside of the plant itself, N has a great influence on the Ph of the soil, which directly influences the uptake (or not) of all other nutrients. The microbes and fungi lives in that stabilized Ph in the rhizosphere (the micro eco system surrounding the roots). We can imagine what happens to them when the rhizosphere is drenched with high N...!
Plants do need lots of N, but to many (and to high concentrates) can make the soil anaerobic, devoid(ing) the roots and microbes of oxygen.
P is equally (and extremely) important for plant life. Its a critical component of the plants DNA. Its absolutely necessary to build and maintain the integrity of the plant cell...without it, there is no, or stunted growth.
Problem with P is its very much tied up in the soil. Plants in general has a very hard time getting to it...hence symbiotic relationships with micorrhizae. In fact, that's exactly the reason micorrhizae evolved. That's also exactly the reason the plant will break the association with the micorrhizae when P is freely available to it...!
Talking about gardening. When a no till method is used (combined with a good home compost and mulching regime), there is absolutely no reason to add any additives to remove toxins. The soil food web will do that in time. VERY little (if any) fertilizer and even water is needed.
 

fredman

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True, and the fungi works for free...I just hope this will desolve once it gets into the waterways...!
 

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True, and the fungi works for free...I just hope this will dissolve once it gets into the waterways...!
Well, it does need some biological material like grain or wood-like pulp as the matrix to infest and be bio-degradable. Should be able to plow it into farmer's fields to grow mother of matrix? Probably would be counter-productive in waterways as a alga food?
 

fredman

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Nah i'm more thinking replacing plastics with it as a packing material. Would work wonderful if it desolves once it hits water. Those plastic islands floating out there in the sea can be illiminated long run.
 

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Nah i'm more thinking replacing plastics with it as a packing material. Would work wonderful if it desolves once it hits water. Those plastic islands floating out there in the sea can be illiminated long run.
You know why you see really, really old wooden boats at port in fishing village photos? Fresh water eats wood boats pretty quick so they are maintenance hogs (a hole in the water into which one pours money). In salt water, the salt preserves wood, so they last a long, long time. Salt water increases electrolysis for aluminum boats, so for fresh water aluminum, and for salt water wood. Might be a market for drift ~wood~ objects for home decor...
 

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