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Beneficial fungi and why they are the reason for super soils exceptional results

Discussion in 'Subcool's Old School Organics' started by subcool, Dec 9, 2012.


    subcool Well-Known Member

    This Article was written b Facemelter
    By Facemelter

    I have been watching your show on YouTube and I’ve been greatly impressed with you techniques, so that after years of hydroponic gardening I’ve decided to convert so your super soil. I have always been a bit of a scientist and mycology (study/cultivation of fungi) has been a hobby of mine for many years. After watching your show, learning about your super soil and seeing the results you achieve by merely adding h2o. I’m impressed to say the least. Being the fungiphile that I am I could not resist the temptation to convert.
    My main reason in writing you is because I’ve heard you state several time that you don’t know why super soil works, “it just works”. So here I am to educate you on some terms and what is actually happening with your soil.
    So to start the reason why super soil is so super is……Fungi. Fungi are known as primary decomposers or in laymen’s terms they eat organic matter and crap out super food for plants. You are creating what is known as a substrate in the mushroom cultivation world. A medium in which the Fungi can in thrive and complete a full life cycle.
    You are creating a super diverse spectrum of food for the fungi to eat which so it produces a super diverse spectrum of plant food with 100% bio availability. It’s not cooking like a compost, in fact you don’t want the internal to go over 84 or mycelium growth will slow to a crawl and contamination from harmful fungi and bacteria can occur, (which might not matter too much for plants but this is very undesirable in the mushroom cultivation) . What is happening is the fungi is COLONIZING the soil or substrate. The white substance you see growing on the top is called mycelium, this the fungal body. During aggressive colonization you will notice the mycelium branching out in tiny tributaries these are hyphe, the leading edge of the mycelium.

    Happy gardening

    Agito Well-Known Member

    I wanted to ask a Q on this i heard that the beneficials myco fungus (that live inside the roots) spores need to be in direct contact with the roots or they die off very quickly so how do they survive in this soil as it
    1. has heat from cooking
    2.has no quick contact with roots

    SpicySativa Well-Known Member

    I'll take a stab at this one. Not all beneficial fungi in soil are mycorrhizae (the ones which need roots). Some live out their lives decomposing organic matter in soil whether or not roots are present. These ones are still very beneficial to plants, because they turn raw organic materials into more plant-available forms. Also, fungi can exist in "suspended animation" as spores (like the seeds of a plant).

    Actual mycorrhiza fungi can't thrive without roots. That's why the best way to apply things like Great White is to directly dust the roots when you transplant, or do a soil drench once a plant is rooted into its medium.

    WAWill Member

    The effect of mycorrhizae on nutrient bioavailability and plant health isn't limited to decomposition by far. There are many species of ectomycorrhizal fungi which employ traps, literally hooks or loops which capture and allow hyphae to invade and consume the body of the nematode. This is another appreciable / beneficial means by which these fungi provide nutrients, largely nitrogen, in their mutualistic relationship in exchange for sugars (and probably more - I'm not exactly a mycologist, just find fungi incredible).
    Nematophagus fungus (you can see, they're by no means limited to ectomycorrhizal fungi, but these do exist and are important in the nitrogen-fixing relationship):

    It's one of those things which, if you think about it, casts significant doubt on practices like 'veganic cultivation'. Nematodes are animals. And, not stopping there, much of the trace mineral composition in our soils is also inevitably derived from the decomposition of animal matter from much 'higher' animals than nematodes. The ability of our biosphere, largely through fungi, to recycle plant, animal, and all once-living organic matter is astounding, and to assume that one can detach his or her cultivation practices from the role of really every kind of life which passes through these incomprehensibly complex relationships, rather than try to allow nature to take its best advantage of them, has never really made sense to me.

    That said, you want to go veganic, have at it. No hate here, just seems like somewhat of a futile exercise. For me, things like innoculant supplements, and soils like sub's are the next step in accepting how nature works and putting ourselves in the best position to take advantage of that.

    I find it fascinating to even begin to learn how pervasive fungi are and how much they do. So, to anyone who finds this stuff interesting, there's a guy close to many of us in OR/WA over near Olympia, Dr. Paul Stamets, who's actually one of the world's foremost mycologists. He has a number of discussions you can find easily up on youtube about some broader beneficial issues in mycology, but I'm sure just his name would be a good jumping-off point for anyone who wants to go a little further than buying a jar of great white, or using the tga super soil (not that these aren't good places to start). ;)

    Cann Well-Known Member

    WAWill - one of the most informative posts i've ever read from someone with such a low post count....+rep and KEEP POSTING MAN!!!! Obviously you know what you are talking about, even just dropping names like Paul Stamets puts you above and beyond many people here. Being from washington myself my whole life has been deeply ingrained in every sort of fungi - so it is great to see others who are appreciating the amazing work that fungi do for us on every level. Good point about veganics btw, always thought of that method as being quite contradictory given the amount of "animals" in the soil...

    Hope to see you around here in the future :bigjoint:
    scugg likes this.

    Cann Well-Known Member

    Don't know how I forgot to mention Mycelium Running - Paul Stamets' book which IMO is a must read for anyone on this planet, especially those concerned with the earth and organics. If you don't own a copy, pick one up right now. Also pick up a copy of Teaming with Microbes by Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis, and if you're really keen grab a copy of Permaculture: A Designers Manual by Bill Mollison - which is literally my bible. Hope this helps someone out there...

    WAWill Member

    Thanks Cann. Just got lucky to some extent in meeting my knowledge base - I've done some edible mushroom cultivation and been involved in mycology clubs a bit. They make some great photographic subjects too.

    Right with you on Permaculture btw - Mollison is great. It's amazing to see him turn arid and economically challenged regions into rampant oases. A beautiful thing that Monsanto will never truly acheive no matter how drought resistant it makes its monocultures. It's hard to fault the efforts of horticultural scientists who are motivated by strengthening monocultures to keep struggling populations from starvation, but it sure doesn't seem to close the loop of sustainability in the same way as the proposals and realized instances of folks like Mollison. Sad that they don't get the same kind of support. Then again, there's no big money inherently tied to permaculture either, so perhaps we shouldn't be surprised.

    You sound like you'd probably have heard of them, but what the hey - some other Permaculture and/or sustainability advocates: Sepp Holzer (really amazing farm in Austria @ >1,500m growing bloody lemon trees), Geoff Lawton, Masanobu Fukuoka. Argh, forgetting a bunch - been a while since I've been gardening and kept up w/ this stuff. Damn apartment. Gotta get down to the community garden this year.

    Lowenfels and Lewis are new to me - Thanks, I'll check it out.

    Cann Well-Known Member

    Ha, don't even get me started on Monsanto...I can remember being a freshman in college and writing a 12 page paper on Monsanto, the assignment was: Pick an environmental hero or villain and explain why. Most other kids turned in 2 or 3 page papers...I started writing about Monsanto and couldn't stop - and my paper barely scratched the surface of their corruption. Got a 98% on the assignment, and afterwards the teacher pulled me aside to say thank you - she was largely unaware of many of the subjects I covered in the paper. Just goes to show how much Monsanto has tricked everyone when a college level Environmental Studies professor is unaware of the companies true actions..

    Glad to see another permaculture head on here - sometimes I wonder if people are just growing weed or if they actually care about gardening and life systems in general. this is one of the main reasons I lurk on the organic forum, seems to be a proportionally higher amount of conscious intending individuals. Never heard of Holzer (thanks for that), but I know of Lawton, Fukuoka (one straw revolution :mrgreen:), etc. Do you own Gaia's Garden? Great home-scale permaculture book - I'd recommend it to anyone. Definitely check out that book Teaming with Microbes, I got it in the mail the other day and proceeded to read the entire thing in one sitting (started and couldn't stop). Needless to say it changed the way I think about soil for the better, and I am very very pleased I read it. It gives you the science of what is going on in your soil, but explains it in a way that is graspable if you have a high school education (although they do go into more detail for those curious like myself). Its one of those books you read and then wonder why you haven't heard about it 1000 times before - similar that way I guess to Mycelium Running or Permaculture : A Designers Manual. And then you realize you haven't heard it 1000 times because Monsanto is trying to keep everything on the hush hush while pushing roundup ready corn and soy down our throats like its some miracle in biochemical engineering and is going to revolutionize the agriculture industry. Often I go to the monsanto website just for a good laugh - talk about deception!!! This is quoted straight from their website "Our vision for sustainable agriculture strives to meet the needs of a growing population, to protect and preserve this planet we all call home, and to help improve lives everywhere. In 2008 Monsanto made a commitment to sustainable agriculture – pledging to produce more, conserve more, and improve farmers’ lives by 2030"

    Hey, lets "improve farmers lives" by selling them genetically engineered seed that will not bear seeds of its own! That way they can buy a fresh batch of seeds from us every year, therefore drastically improving their livelihood....and hey on top of that we can sell them Bt resistant crops, allowing them to apply Bt at higher rates, and we all know how Bt acts as a natural soil enhancer, microbe stimulant, etc...whats not to like??? lmao

    I just have to include this link now - http://truth-out.org/news/item/917

    If reading this story doesn't make you lose faith in humanity, I don't know what will...

    TL : DR - After the haiti earthquake, monsanto "gifted" hundreds of tons of seeds - a noble act right? wrong. All of these seeds were hybrids, unlike the heirloom seeds which haitians had used for generations. So heres what happened. Excited about the new seeds and the great results (hybrid vigor anyone?) the farmers abandoned their old heirloom seeds and started using exclusively Monsanto genetics. This was great for the first crop, but when they saved those seeds (agricultural practice they had been doing forever) a problem arose. Hybrids do not breed pure, and therefore the next years offsprings (F1) were of two varieties - one very vigorous with growth but no fruit set, and another very spindly with very very heavy fruit set. As farmers we know that this is no good, and their yields suffered accordingly. Pissed off, the farmers went to get more seed but found that their old heirloom seeds were mostly lost and pretty hard to come by. "Luckily" for them, monsanto had opened up seed shops selling the hybrid seeds to farmers...So the farmers buy more seed in order to have a good crop. And then the next year. And the next year. And soon enough there will be no more heirloom seeds grown on the large farms in haiti, only monsanto hybrids. What an altruistic gesture :spew:

    and thats my rant for the day :) you can probably see how I wrote 12 pages...

    You say mushrooms are great photography subjects - lets see some shots :bigjoint:

    I'll start it out - some baby cyanescens pins growing in a northwest forest...oh how I miss the PNW :(


    WAWill Member

    Hey now! Cool stuff. I'm gonna tie off a bit though - I feel like we've ended up kinda jacking Sub's initial thread.

    Maybe it would be cool and useful to folks if we open up a related one with some breakdown on the roles of the individual species of endo/ecto-mycorrhizae and bacteria found in common innoculant supplements - Try to answer some questions like, "How much of the provided spectrum is really necessary for which species of plant?", etc.

    Yep, my favorite Monsanto anecdote: They introduce dominant, patented genetics which get blown by the wind into small farmers' plots, uninvited, then sue those farmers out of existence when their crops are dominated and buy up their land. No shit.

    Sure, I'll have to do some digging back on older HDDs but I'll try to put up some of my fungi shots on a new thread. I never got into the psilocybes to be honest though - too much of a mindfuck and chanterelles look cooler imho.

    Hey, I'm sure there are plenty of permaculture-minded RIU folks out there - let's start some threads over in 'Gardening' and see who's down. :)

    Cann Well-Known Member

    Agreed, Go for it WAWill! - I would love to see a thread about innoculant supplement "ingredients" so to speak - what strains of endo/ecto, trichoderms, bacteria, etc. and each of their known applications. I know there is a lot of debate over ectomycorrhizae due to their predominant relationship with trees such as birch, oak, etc. and not annuals such as cannabis. the main Organics forum would be a great place for that one...

    Start up a Permaculture thread in Gardening as well - and post your fungi pics there. I'll be around to watch and quote mollison :)

    Get em up and runnin!

    Good stuff as always

    ebbensmoke Member

    Damn. His name is facemelter and he know alot about fungi..... I bet his boomers are killer. Lol

    melvinsweetleaf New Member

    I <3 Cascadian growers. :-) Likely the most revolutionary minds in the country....no disrespect to all others...folks here are just plain pushing the limits. much love!

    DANKSWAG Well-Known Member

    Hey guys quick question on basics of IMO. I've used some half cook jasmine rice to place in containers to collect microbes from outside. I was wondering if instead of making IMO2 using equal parts brown sugar or molasses hand mixed together to ferment for couple of weeks, if I could just blend the rice / microbes collected into used soil then transplant clones into and water with a fish fertilizer if this would feed the microbes and allow boding to the newly transplanted roots.

    .... may the gods of the little Terra forma critters hear my request and direct my steps.... :bigjoint:

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