I always kind of thought soil has plenty of fungus, and local fungus is better suited to your environment than anything you could buy. But there are a lot of people who seem to know what they are talking about that swear by mycorhizal inoculation when transplanting bear root plants. I tryed some last year, but am unconvinced.
Years ago, i used it to establish fungi on this farm ground. This ground was row cropped around 100 years. Most soil won’t need fungi since there are plenty of trees and established fungi already.
I don’t mind some in my seeds starting mixes, I tend to believe out in the yard it’s already present between worms and leaves rottimg back in again and everything else…. That doesn’t mean I expect every Elm automatically has a Morel, But I tend to assume that the soil in general is fairly biologically active
For seeds it is too expensive and for something like fruit trees you are planting outside where it is naturally occurring anyway. My suggestion is let nature take its course and let it just naturally occur. Save your money.
I made a mixture with mycorrhizae, neem oil, liquid fish, kelp, water and molasses and sprayed it on my trees and in the root zone as the leaves were falling last year. This was after reading Michael Phillips’ book The Holistic Orchard. Will keep using it this coming season and see how it goes.
One thing to consider is that in addition to the mycorrhizae, you need to be careful to not apply any types of fertilizer, chemicals or pesticide that would kill or inhibit the microbes, otherwise it will be all for nothing. This can include many organic sprays I’m sure. Other things like mulching and plantings around the trees are also important to promote healthy soil.
That’s exactly what jeff Lowenfels said in his book. That’s where the research is going. For living soils.
I have used it on rootstock or cuttings, particularly if they were left in pots for a year before planting out. Didn’t bother on established plants with some sort of actual soil.
This is an older neighborhood, but still had topsoil and everything else stripped when the houses went up. And it was only cows before that, still not many trees or shubs around. I added and continue to add compost and mulch, but the neighbors don’t. I assume anywhere I go is probably devoid of what I actually want. The inoculant is cheaper insurance, the container will last for years anyway.
I agree that scientists are researching the complex biological interactions of the soil. When I went to hort school, mycorrhizal relationships were on the cutting edge of new discoveries and I found the concept very exciting.
However, Jeff Lowenfels appears to be more garden writer than scientist, but I haven’t read any of his books… does he stick to the science? From my vantage point, the organic movement seems somewhat distorted by ideology that sometimes seems opposed to any science that contradicts the orthodoxy that anything synthetic is bad for us, or the soil. That’s just a personal opinion from someone who was all organic back in 1969.
The only fertilizer that I’ve heard of that has shown to be hurtful to to mycorrhizal relationships is P. If there is enough of that available to trees in the soil, perhaps they block the fungus from entering their roots… I don’t know. P is the biggest treat the fungus has to offer plants, although there are a couple other nutrients as well, especially H2O during drought.
I’m unaware of research of damaging affects of pesticides on soil organisms, but that may only reflect my own ignorance. However, many of the pesticides used today break down almost immediately once they contact the soil and I do think it is useful for growers to know that these ain’t your momma’s ag chemicals.
The science doesn’t seem to be veering away from using synthetics in agricultural production but in reducing the negative consequences of using them. For instance, commercial fruit growers are often using much less N than they used to and applying it more and more in irrigation water in a way that allows the plants to gather most of it instead of a lot of it ending up in the water passing through.
If your potting soil hasn’t been inoculated, the stuff probably can be helpful there. Of course, a handful of dirt from under a tree or from your garden might work as well.
I enjoyed this video earlier today, he had some similar points.
Will here mentions that they could not influence a compost to become fungal even with high innoculation doses.
If the local soil is devoid of life it can be useful i think, and he is also talking about people using fungus in agriculture. For Orchard and fruit trees, the context changes a bit. I suspect jump starting with inoculants when changing a lawn or pasture to a fruit orchard can help although adding woodchips and tree roots is the main aspect that will influence the soil biology.
I soaked bare-root trees in a bucket of water for an hour or so before potting them last year. Got a good deal on bags of “potting soil” which had been in that bag (dry) for who knows how long. Wasn’t sure how much “good bacteria” might be present, figured it wouldn’t hurt to introduce more. I put some Mycorrhiza spores in the water and also sprinkled them onto the wet roots after taking them out of the water and before potting. Since they’re supposed to form a symbiotic relationship with plant roots, figured I’d ensure they were present at that specific location. Not sure if it helped any, those trees grew about the same as in previous years. Possibly that bagged “soil” was already teaming with them, just don’t know…
Garden soil already contains vast quantities of mycorrhizae, or at least it does if any kind of plants grow in it. Adding more is a waste of money, since they are already in your soil.
from what ive read about it over the years, all is needed is compost that has been in contact with soil from outdoors to inoculate around your newly planted trees or plants. earth worms carry fungi in their castings and deposit in the compost as they help break down the compost pile. even growing seedlings indoors i like to put a little compost in my seedling mix to get the plant friendly fungi and bacteria well established in there. ive seen a difference in growth with adding outdoors compost compared to bought mycorrhizal products. save your money and build your compost up. theres a reason gardeners call worm castings black gold. but i believe the outdoor compost is better than the sold stuff as its already in syc with your local soils biome. my 2 cents.
When i did grape cuttings a couple years ago i used mycorhizal powder and root hormones. The mycelium spread through the pot of the potting mix. Got 85% to root. Last year i just stuck trimmings in the ground while spring pruning. Got 100% no hormones or anything.
this is true, and as far as mycorrhizal add-ins, i have done well w happy frog soils (both of the 2 they sell, forgot the other name) but I use as-is or cut considerably, depending on what soil I have around. I do think having SOMETHING mycorrhizal in your dirt is beneficial, and question how sterile non-innoculated seed starter is.
The only reason I wouldnt just mix in a handful of yard-dirt is i am exceptionally skilled at over-watering, and have plenty of damping off issues without trying to bring additional pathogenic fungus into my mess… those who are more competent w starts (thinking mostly about garden plants here rather than trees) probably have more leeway
ive had similar success rooting in ground in the native soil. the best time to stick them is in early fall but early spring works ok for the easy to root stuff like currants and elder but not as good for harder stuff like cherry, mulberry and honeyberries.
ive reduced my dampening off issues by nearly 90% by burying my seeds with a 1/4in. of worm castings or native compost. there so much beneficial bacteria and fungi in there, it destroys the damping off fungus. the compost holds more water near the surface longer lessening to need to water as much. kind of like mulch does.
Well s also there’s the issue of not having any idea of what you are getting, whether it’s adapted to your soil, how much you are getting an whether it’s viable.
I added some micro stuff when I planted my first fruit trees back 20 some years ago in our poor sand that I suspect was dug from a railroad cut. Later plantings I used none. I can’t really say I saw any difference.
What did make a difference was arborist mulch around the plantings—islands of green around each tree or bush.
I use 3.8 cubic foot packages of ProMix B w/ the mycorhizal in it… but i don’t really care about the mycorhizal in it.
Its such a nice light and fluffy mix and use it with seedlings when they go outside into small cups and pots up until they are 12" plants. and I then mixed into my heavy clay as well with those seedlings to loosen up that soil up a bit.