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A common problem in many gardens is that plants have a difficult time getting certain nutrients out of the soil, finding enough water, and protecting themselves from soil-borne predators.
That’s why they started partnering – 100s of millions of years ago – with very special fungi called mycorrhizal fungi.
If I had to narrow it down to the single most important microorganism species for your garden, it would be a mycorrhizal fungus called Glomus intraradices.
That’s because it partners up with over 90% of plant species and plays a huge role in the health of our plants and soil.
There is no other microorganism that works so closely with plants to bring them nutrients and water and to protect them from root-feeding diseases.
I have mycorrhizae for sale. Actually, to be more accurate, ‘mycorrhizae’ actually refers to the relationship between the fungi and the root (‘myco’ means fungi and ‘rhiza’ means root).
So you can’t buy mycorrhizae, but you can buy mycorrhizal fungi, and it’s often very useful to do so.
What Mycorrhizal Fungi Do
Mycorrhizal fungi wrap around the roots (and often go inside the roots) of the plants in your garden and then grow out through the soil in every direction, effectively extending the root system of those plants by hundreds of times.
They get nutrients out of the soil that plants have a hard time getting themselves, especially phosphorus (which is good because deficient phosphorus is a common reason why our plants aren’t optimally healthy) and also many others.
They also hold calcium in the soil – you can go apply a whole bunch of lime, but if you don’t have fungi in the soil, a lot of that lime can leach out very quickly.
Mycorrhizal fungi also bring water to plants and protect plant roots from predators, and even invite other beneficial microbes into the root area by feeding them directly.
They even connect most of your plants together, giving those plants the ability to share nutrients and other compounds with each other!
The reason they do all this is that the plants give them food in return.
Some plants will give over 50% of the carbohydrates (which they produce through photosynthesis) to these fungi.
This mycorrhizal symbiosis is bartering that’s been going on for millions of years and it’s one of the most important foundations of all life on earth and of the health of your garden.
By the way, be sure to read the comparison to both compost tea and SCD/EM on the right side of the page.
How To Make Your Own Mycorrhizal Inoculant
When possible, I really like to teach you guys how to make these kinds of things for yourself.
And it actually is possible to grow your own mycorrhizal inoculant, an inoculant being a culture of microorganisms that you use to establish them in your garden.
But it’s no simple task and I don’t see it being worth the effort for home gardeners (other than for fun because it would be cool if you could learn to do it properly).
It takes a few months, but if you’re interested, here’s a nice little production guide from Rodale.
How Mycorrhizal Inoculant Is Made For Sale
What they have to do to produce the fungi is grow acres and acres of plants inoculated with mycorrhizal fungi on the roots and then pull up the roots, harvest the fungi, get the spores (which are kind of like the microscopic seeds of fungi), clean them, protect them with a carrier, and – well, it’s a very intensive and delicate process.
Some companies are now culturing the fungi in a lab. I have no problem with that in theory, but my understanding is that so far the quality is not there, so I stick with the tried and true method of using inoculants that were grown on plants.
So, you can take these mycorrhizal products and apply them directly to your seed and to the roots of your plants when you plant them, and the relationship should begin to form with a few days.
I’ve seen incredible results when seeding new lawns and planting new gardens with mycorrhizal fungi products.
Forward-thinking landscapers and farmers are onto using it now. Even people who grow world record giant pumpkins are using it, too.
Who Needs This The Most?
Soil that’s been tilled, compacted, waterlogged or treated with pesticides will often be severely deficient in these important fungi, so that’s when it’s our job to bring them back in.
Same goes if you’ve brought in topsoil, potting soil or even compost (they don’t generally exist in compost because they need a plant partner to grow).
That’s why I recommend this for almost everyone, as most of us have at least one of these conditions, and because getting these beneficial fungi back into partnership with plant roots can have a dramatic impact on plant growth.
If you’re working in more of a natural ecosystem, like on the edge of a forest or natural grassland, you can probably skip this one, although you’ll still want it for starting seeds or planting in containers.
Endomycorrhizal Vs Ectomycorrhizal Fungi
There are two main categories of mycorrhizal fungi: Source: Mycorrhizal Applications – manufacturer of quality mycorrhizal inoculants.
- Endomycorrhizal fungi (also called arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi or am fungi) partner up with well over 90% of plant species – most plants. G. Intraradices is included here, along with a few other less important species.
- Ectomycorrhizal fungi work with less than 5% of plants, so they’re not usually needed in a home food garden, although it doesn’t hurt to have them if you happen to get an inoculant that includes them, and they do associate with some trees including pine, fir, Douglas fir, spruce, hemlock, oak, birch, beech, hickory, alder, willow.
I carry a mycorrhizal inoculum that has just the endomycorrhizal fungi, which is the one you need if you’re growing food.
I also carry an inoculum that has a mix of both the endo and the ecto, which you may need if you’re planting a mix of deciduous and coniferous trees and shrubs.
How To Choose A Quality Mycorrhizal Inoculant
Unfortunately, most inoculants aren’t great, but there are a few good ones.
I’ve spent more time searching for this product than any other, and I was lucky enough to find an excellent manufacturer.
I actually worked with them to create a special size just for home gardeners, as they were focusing on creating really high-quality inoculants for landscapers and farmers.
I’ve learned a lot along the way, so I can share a couple of tips on what you want to look for when buying a mycorrhizal inoculant.
The number of mycorrhizal spores is part of the picture. Some products have less than 1000 spores per pound. Some have hundreds of thousands. Spore count alone isn’t all that relevant, though – you need to compare it to price.
For example, if a product has twice as many spores as another but costs four times as much, then all else being equal, it’s not a good deal.
But spores per pound is not the only relevant part. The quality of the manufacturing process and the health of the spores are just as important.
If most of your spores are destroyed or if they’re being packed in an inappropriate carrier, you lose a lot of benefits. I would rather have a lower spore count from a quality manufacturer.
This particular product has about 35000 spores per pound, which is way more than the cheap products on the market, but not as high as some others. But where these guys shine is with quality – they’re well known for producing a high-quality inoculant.
How to tell if a product is of high quality? That’s a hard one. I know just enough about the science of mycorrhizal fungi that I can talk to the manufacturer and tell by how they answer my questions if they know their stuff and if they’re concerned about quality.
But other than that, it’s seeing what other people are saying about the mycorrhizal product and looking at the track record of the manufacturer. It takes some hunting.
Some manufacturers count ‘propagules’ instead of ‘spores.’ Propagules can include root fragments and other inert materials, so the spore count might actually be much lower. When buying a product, make sure you figure out how many actual spores are in it.
And not just spores, but how many G. intraradices spores, or at least endo spores. Endo/ecto blends are going to have way more spores because the ecto are so much smaller and more plentiful, so that makes it looks like they’re a much higher value, but it’s really endo you want to pay attention to in order to compare apples to apples.
A point of controversy in the mycorrhizal inoculant world is diversity of species. Some people contend that G. Intraradices is really the only endomycorrhizal species you need, while others claim that a diversity of several endo species is better because each of them will do better in certain conditions with certain plants.
The latter has always made sense to me because more diversity is usually better in nature, but after a lot of reading into this, I believe it’s not as important as you might think.
G. Intraradices is the important one. If a product has a few other species, as mine does, that’s probably a good thing, but not too big of a deal.
When it comes to ectomycorrhizal fungi, if a product has it, there are usually a handful of species, and it is a good thing in that case because they’re specialists.
One more thing. In my opinion, it’s usually best not to buy mycorrhizae for sale with other microbes in it such as bacteria. It’s fashionable in the mycorrhizal fungi products world to add them in, but they probably aren’t helping all that much, and they may be detrimental.
Also, in my opinion, don’t buy mycorrhizal inoculants with trichoderma in them. It’s all the rage to include trichoderma fungi these days, and perhaps there are some benefits, but there’s also some evidence that they can interfere with the mycorrhizal fungi.
I’m not going to get into that here because I’ve already been rather long-winded, but I’m staying away from trichoderma mixed with myco until I see more evidence.
Mycorrhizal Applications – How To Use Mycorrhizal Fungi
The relationship occurs at the roots, so that’s where you need to do the mycorrhizal inoculation – there’s no benefit spraying it onto plant leaves.
That means when you’re sowing seed, sprinkle a little fungi on them first. I’ve often just finished soaking my seed in kelp or sea minerals, and so the fungi sticks to it nicely, but that’s not necessary – just a bonus.
When you’re planting, just rub a little bit of inoculant onto the root ball of the plant.
If you have an existing landscape with reasonably porous soil (i.e. not heavily compacted) and you’re using a powder inoculant such as my mycorrhizal fungi for sale here (rather than a granular product), you can mix it in water and spray it onto the soil and then water it in and some of it will work its way down to the roots.
How Much Do You Need?
There’s a little more than 300ml in 1/2 pound of inoculant.
When I’m planting small plants, I don’t measure. I just rub some powder onto 1 side of the root ball, less than 1/4 teaspoon for little “starts” such as tomato plants, and more like 1 teaspoon for a 1-gallon pot and 2 teaspoons for a 5-gallon pot. A little is all that’s needed.
If you’re planting seedlings, that 1/2 pound can do up to 800 of them if you mix it in water and spray the roots, or just very lightly dip the roots into the powder. For trees, 1/2 pound will do about 30 of them – that’s 2 teaspoons per tree.
Use 300ml (1/2 pound) per 1/3 acre worth of seed if you’re going to be mixing it in with your seed before sowing.
That means if you’re seeding a typical home lawn, 1/2 pound will be more than plenty, as 1.5 Tablespoons per 1000 square feet is all you need to mix with the seed. If you’re seeding vegetables, 1/2 pound will be even more than more than plenty – they just need an incredibly light dusting.
For watering into existing lawns and gardens, we need to apply a lot more. It’s optimal to use at least 300ml (1/2 pound) per 1000 square feet if you’re going to be watering it into an existing lawn or garden, but I’ve discussed this with the manufacturer, and they said that 300 ml (1/2 pound) can do up to 4000 square feet. The fungi will take longer to get established, but it should do so in time.
The dilution with water is 1 Tbsp/gallon of water, 20 gallons of water for each 300ml (1/2 pound) of inoculant.
When doing this, I’ll usually mix it with liquid seaweed. Irrigate right after application in order to move it down into the root zone.
If the soil isn’t porous, you can instead dig a few small holes around each plant and tuck a teaspoon of powder down into each hole.
Get It Here
$21.00 – $53.00
In summary, this fungal inoculant:
- Helps plants take up phosphorus, nitrogen and many other nutrients, plus water, and also protects plant roots from soil-borne pests.
- Is probably needed in soils that have previously been tilled, compacted, water-logged, sprayed with pesticides, or left without plant cover.
- Is organic, OMRI-Listed and non-GMO, and 1/2 pound goes a long way.
As a free bonus when you order today, I’ll also enroll you in my Inoculants course.
Just choose your size and click ‘Add To Cart’ up above!
- Shipping is $10 (if your order is $99 or less) or free (if your order is $100 or more).
- I ship in the U.S. only. I ship 7 days a week.
- All of my products have a 1 year 100% money-back guarantee.
- If you have a question about a product, leave it in the comment section below I'll try to respond within a few hours.
- Dry fertilizers and compost tea brewers ship separately so they will arrive on their own maybe a day or 2 apart from my other products.
- With every order, I send $1 to Organics 4 Orphans and other similar organizations. O4O is working with the world’s poor to help them grow organic, highly nutritious, highly medicinal food for themselves, and then use the surplus food to generate income for themselves as well as feeding the orphans in their communities. My hope this year is to again send $1500US, which is enough to start projects in 25 new communities!
Free $25 Bonus When You Buy Today
When you buy this fungi, you get enrolled into my online Inoculants course.
Mycorrhizal fungi is so easy to use that I actually only have a couple of videos on it in there, but I have other videos on topics such as how to make your own bacteria-based inoculant and discussions on a few other inoculants.
The course includes 11 videos totaling about 40 minutes.
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