Archives for posts with tag: Microbial life

We support the growing movement of Organic Gardening and Farming. We want to provide the tools and knowledge to let plants, soils, and people reach their full potential.

Organic Gardening Defined: As we sought the definition of “Organic Gardening”, we found that so many societies, cultures, and organizations have shared their interpretation of it’s meaning that we were allotted one as well. Here is how we see it:

Organic Gardening is when humans help plants reach their full potential relative to how they evolved.

If you require more words to enhance this idea, the following links will elaborate.

The USDA’s takes on things

Google’s collection of insights

Mycorrhizae

A group of fungi that live symbiotically with 90% of the plants on the Earth’s surface. These fungi attach themselves to the plants roots and feed it nutrients that have been mineralized from the soil. In exchange, the plant feeds the fungi sugars that exude from the roots. It also provides water absorption from web like hyphae that branch deep into the soil.

Actively Aerated Compost Tea

a highly oxygenated brew of quality compost to allow the propagation of beneficial microbes such as bacteria and fungi. Adding compost tea to your soil and leaves can reduce water consumption and evaporation, prevent disease and pest imbalance, and aid in nutrient uptake and the overall health of your plants. We carry kits and recipes that allow you to make tea at home and we occasional brew in house.

Pest and Disease Control

Using responsible methods to control imbalances in your garden is important for the prevention of future problems your plants and soil might face. If a pest problem needs to be dealt with by pesticide, then there are many modern Organic options that function competitively with chemical agents. Remember that many Organic and Chemical pesticides can do damage to the microbial populations that your garden depends on. Re-introducing the microbes by applying compost tea or other inoculants is essential after the application of pesticides, fungicides, or herbicides.

Soils and Amendments

The composition of your soil is important for your plants ability to take up water, grow deep roots, have the nutrients and minerals it needs, and create relationships with microbial populations. Some amendments are high in available nutrients, while many contribute to proper drainage, aeration, water holding, or microbial life support.

Advertisements

 

An Introduction to Your Garden’s
Microbial Life

 

By Shawn Bishop

 

I. Plants relationship with Microbes

Until modern times, plants have relied on nutrients provided by their relationship with microbial life. This relationship can seem complex and mysterious. There are however, some key elements to microbial soil life that can enlighten curious gardeners with little more than a brief explanation:

  1. Plants exude sugars from their roots.
  2. Bacteria and fungi ingest these sugars.
  3. Protozoa and nematodes then eat the bacteria and fungi.
  4. Their excess waste is transformed into “plant available” nutrients right in the root zone.
  5. The plant uses these nutrients to grow.
  6. The plant is in control of when and what it eats. By using a piece of its’ own energy to feed these microbes, the plant insures a future source of energy greater than what it has lost.

Understanding this cycle will help you better learn how plants relate to the soils in witch they are grown. Realizing that plants evolved with this relationship can help you decide what is best for your garden.

 

II. Soils relationship to microbes

Soil is a mixture of organic matter, minerals, and a full spectrum of living creatures. It is also a microscopic landscape where life decomposes to its base ingredients and ushered into new forms. Gardeners don’t need to know complex biochemistry to know their garden, but understanding some of the processes going on in your soil can be rewarding:

  1. Fresh organic material is broken down by microbes. The bacteria eat the sugars and fresh green material. The fungi eat the tougher woody material and proteins.
  2. The plant material is further broken down by larger microbes, small bugs, and worms that feast on the bacteria and fungi.
  3. Microbes hold moisture and nutrients in their biomass. They keep the water from evaporating and the nutrients from leaching away.
  4. Bacteria produce slimes that bind particles together to form humus in your soil. This helps the soil store oxygen, creates cracks for water to flow, and provides a shelter for the multitude of creatures thriving underfoot.

These are just a few examples of microbial soil interactions that can help you better relate to your garden. Through these processes, the life in your soil maintains balance with the environment that it is a part of.

 

III. Working with soil biology

If you are adding compost, mulching, or avoiding chemical fertilizers, then you are probably already doing much to improve your soils health. By learning how these actions affect your garden, you can better trust your own reasoning and intuition to guide your relationship with soil life.

Compost

Compost is organic matter that has been broken down by microbes so that its’ energy is stored for further use. Applying it to your garden ads colonies of diverse organisms to the soil. It also supplies a new food source for existing colonies. There is much variation in qualities compost can posses. For instance, the debris that comprises the compost should be fully broken down and unrecognizable. It should have a deep brown color and rich but subtle smell. If it smells strong than it is probably potent in some way. If it smells rotten, than it could add problems to your soil. Many methods of producing compost can yield different results, but remember: We evolved with these microbes, plants, and soils as well. Your senses can be the best judge of the quality of compost.

Compost Tea

Compost tea is a brew of oxygen rich water, high quality compost, and some foods to help microbes bloom in population. The goal of good CT is to substantially multiply the beneficial organisms. They can then be used to coat leaf surfaces, inoculate compost, and restore or improve soil health. A bio-film of CT on leaf surfaces can keep pathogens from reaching the plant as a food source. The microbes also respire CO2 that helps fuel plant metabolism. Use of tea in compost or soil can drastically increase the biomass of healthy life that stores and converts energy.

Mycorrhizae

Most plants in the Earths’ soils have evolved to have a mycorrhizal relationship with Fungi. This is when a specialized species of fungi attaches to the root of a plant, and directly exchanges nutrients in the soil for foods from the plant. The fungi use enzymes and organic acids to break down minerals in the soil and draw them into the plants roots. The fungal hyphae (strands of cells that form the organism) can multiply the water-absorbing surface area of the root zone by hundreds of times. Use of mycorrhizal fungi spores can greatly increase your plants access to water and nutrients.

Minerals

Many of the nutrients locked within our soils are in the form of minerals. Some are readily available to plants, while others need the help of microbes to unlock their energy. When we harvest from our gardens, we deplete the nutrients made available from organic matter and minerals. We usually replenish organic matter in the form of compost or fertilizers. It is also good to add minerals while restoring fertility to your soil.

Mulch

Mulch can be a useful tool for dealing with a number of garden issues. It can keep moisture in the soil, prevent weeds from sprouting, and be a food source for the microbes in your garden. Mulch should be layered thick enough to accomplish these tasks but loose enough to allow for the flow of oxygen. It can take many forms and each posses unique functions. Try different materials and decide for yourself what’s best for your garden.

Tilling

Tilling your soil can destroy fungal colonies, damage bacteria, and release precious nutrients back into the air. Sometimes it is necessary while rehabilitating a landscape to till the damaged soil. Compost and Compost Tea should be applied soon after to inoculate the soil and restore its’ composition. Hand picking weeds, cover cropping and mulch can be useful alternatives to annual tilling. When it comes to tillage, less is more.

Everything you do to your garden affects microbial life. With little effort, you can enhance this life for the benefit of your garden, your health, and your environment.

http://www.thirdcoasthorticulture.com

http://austintexasaquaponics.blogspot.com/