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Fungus for All

Jim Boxberger - Correspondent
Posted 5/21/21

Fungus, normally the bane of the gardener, can also be beneficial and I am not talking about the mushrooms on your pizza tonight.

A fungus known as mycorrhiza is being added to many professional …

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Fungus for All

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Fungus, normally the bane of the gardener, can also be beneficial and I am not talking about the mushrooms on your pizza tonight.

A fungus known as mycorrhiza is being added to many professional soils because of it's amazing growth benefits to plant root systems. Mycorrhizas are commonly divided into ectomycorrhizas and endomycorrhizas.

The two types are differentiated by the fact that the spores of ectomycorrhizal fungi do not penetrate individual cells within the plant root, while the spores of endomycorrhizal fungi penetrate the cell wall and the cell membrane.

Fungi in mycorrhizae form a symbiotic relationship with the roots of your plants. The roots in the relationship, and the plants themselves are referred to as mycorrhizal if mycorrhizae are formed successfully.

This symbiotic association provides the fungus with a relatively constant and direct access to carbohydrates, such as glucose and sucrose. The carbohydrates are transferred from the plant leaves to root tissue and the excess on to the plant's fungal partners.

In return, the plant gains the benefits of the fungi's higher absorptive capacity for water and mineral nutrients due to the large surface area of fungal spores, which are much finer than plant roots, thus improving the plant's mineral absorption capabilities. In laymans terms, the mycorrhiza fungi help your plants to absorb more nutrients, minerals and fertilizers, therefore your plants grow faster, stronger and healthier.

Plant roots alone may be incapable of taking up phosphate in soils with a basic pH (pH higher than 7). The spores of the mycorrhizal fungus can, however, access these phosphorus sources, and make them available to the plants they colonize. Phosphates are the building blocks that plants need to fruit or flower.

Futhermore mycorrhizal plants are often more resistant to diseases, such as those caused by microbial soil-borne pathogens. Fungi have been found to have a protective role for plants rooted in soils with high metal concentrations, such as acidic and contaminated soils.

Now that I have told you all about mycorrhiza let me tell you were you can find it. A company in California started making cutting edge state of the art soils over two decades ago, that company would be FoxFarm.

Designed by cannibis growers for cannibis growers, the product line was initially a niche product that few companies carried. But once the company got distribution east of the Mississippi River the popularity of the product line with backyard gardeners took off.

We brought in a few of their products back in 2015 to try and see if there was a market here in Sullivan County for these products. After all, they are premium products with premium prices and since some of our biggest sellers are bags of topsoil for $2.49, I wasn't sure if a twenty dollar, two cubic foot bag of soil would sell.

Not only was I wrong about it selling, but even though I knew about mycorrhiza before, I though it was just a lot of hype to sell higher priced soils. My wife uses FoxFarm products exclusively now and the results are amazing.

Now the good news is, we are now bringing the soil in by the full truckload and have plenty in stock, but the bad news is that most of the other liquid FoxFarm products are nearly sold out and our distributors are sold out as well. We currently have products on backorder with three different suppliers, so hopefully we will get restocked soon.

And one final note, I will get that straw bale garden display built by this weekend. Once the weather turned nice, it has been too busy to get it done, bt now even the staff want to see it in action, so I have to do it know matter what.

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