Beneficial Bacteria and Fungi found in Soil that will Promote Plant Growth| Add These to your Garden
Updated: Feb 16
The thing I loved learning the most during my permaculture course and whilst studying the soil food web, was that nature is the epitome of efficiency when it comes to balancing and correcting itself.
Nature is by far the most intelligent technology on the planet. As human beings we use nature, shape it and discover it, we imitate it but we cannot create nature.
We can’t create something that will produce unlimited yield and we can’t create automated mechanisms of biological life.
I've put together some ways we can see that plants benefit greatly from the presence of bacteria and fungi.
How do plants use Bacteria to get Nitrogen?
Nitrogen is necessary for the plants to make proteins, amino acids and DNA. Plants need nitrogen but they can't directly absorb it in its raw form.
This is where nature steps in and forms beneficial relationships between organisms. There are bacteria in the soil, like Archaea bacteria, that converts nitrogen into nitrates and ammonium, which allows the plant to absorb nitrogen that way.
Archaea bacteria are one of the only forms of bacteria we know that can thrive in the harshest of environments, for this reason, they are on a category of their own.
You'll find them in environments that have a ph level of 1, as well as in hot pools where the temperatures remain consistently at a level that would kill most bacteria. Luckily, scientists still find Archaea in our gardens producing soluble nitrogen for plants even after pesticide previous pesticide used.
Rhizobia bacteria are another helper of converting nitrogen too. They live inside plant roots converting nitrogen in exchange for shelter and free food.
How do plants ask for help in the first place?
The answer to this question is Exudates. This is a secretion in the roots of plants, almost like a tantalising perfume.
Plants change what kind of perfume to give off depending on the kinds of bacteria they want to attract. Each kind of bacteria gives off different by-products that are nutrients for the plants.
An Exudate is like a promise of what the plant will give to the bacteria in return for their by-products.
This way, even though a plant is an immovable biological life form, it remains in control of sourcing water and nutrients through the means of other life forms.
How do plants use organisms to gather nutrients?
Plants can't simply go out and find water and nutrients, they need help from more mobile organisms.
There are fungi called Mycorrhiza, that attach to the roots of plants and spread out far and wide.
They source water and nutrients in the soil and bring it back to the plant in exchange for food the plant provides. Mycorrhiza can do this for two or more plants at the same time.
An astonishing 90% of all plants form this relationship to get the quantities of nutrients and water that it needs.
How to adopt a natural environment in your container.
As a small space gardener we have learned how important bacteria and fungi are for plant growth and we must to a certain extent replicate what happens in nature in our containers, in order for our plants to thrive.
This is why I highly recommend that you concentrate not just on watering the plants or providing minerals, but more importantly inoculating your plants with bacteria and fungi.
There are some really easy ways to do this even in a small space garden with no outdoor space. I will be showing you how you can do this with only two ingredients in my next article in this this series.
You can also get your hands on extremely rich beneficial bacteria and fungi just by using worm castings see the article here on the "Benefits of Black Gold in your Garden (Worm Castings)" or click here.
Alternatively, you can buy beneficial fungi to add straight to your garden.
I recommend adding Mycorrhizal Fungi from RootGrow. Which has been endorsed by the Royal Horticultural Society RHS. It's currently £9.99, click here to see it on Amazon
I found this video about when fungi grew to the size of trees really fascinating. Watch below.
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Teaming with Microbes by Jeff Lowenfels