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Okay, we can already see those eyebrows lifting, thinking, why would you want to care for fungi.
Still, the short answer is that mycelium fungi are one of the most cultivated plants in the garden, and for a good reason.
So, even if you do not buy it, the mycorrhizal fungi generate in garden soil. Today, Plantly tells you more about the breakthrough of using the fungi to your benefit.
What is Mycelium?
The exciting thing is that the vegetative part of the fungus is mycelium. So you find it a network of cells growing throughout the Earth’s landmasses. The other fascinating thing is you find the cells stretching eight miles in a cubic inch of soil.
But for you that do gardening and bring wood chips home to place in flower beds, it is a small white mold, and your garden needs it. It grows as magic, and mycologists refer to it as “the neurological network of Mother nature.”
All agriculture ecosystems depend on mycelium, which supports healthy soil to grow resilient vegetation. But what is mycelium related to, like looking at plants and trees? Well, the mycelium refers to the mushroom
The plant roots grow far and wide beneath the soil like trees to absorb nutrients and water. So when you look at these small mushrooms, it is the trunk but is part of a large colony of mushrooms and not only one.
Yet growing as fungi, the mycelium does not belong to your plant kingdom and is more similar to the animal kingdom as it does not produce food. So mycorrhizal fungi depend on food to thrive.
Benefits of Mycelium in Your Garden
In short, mycelium benefits the ecosystem by generating soil that gives life to plant growth. The thing is that without it, as the fungi develop soil, the ecosystem structure will break down. It will lead to erosion with multiple problems.
For example, it provides a solid soil structure for fruit trees, and cultivated plants grow to produce food for humans and animals. Hence, mycelium represents rebirth making the soil fertile and rich in nutrients.
Furthermore, it has a symbiotic relationship with plants as itremoves toxins from the soil. These include chlorine, pesticides, and dioxin, a highly toxic pollutant in the environment.
Another outstanding benefit while developing nutrient-rich soil is that it also makes the trees drought-resistant while cleansing groundwater and removing contaminants. You find the fungus growing on the forest floor and introduced into gardens using dead organic matter.
Thus, mycelium in the ground makes the soil nutrient-rich and improves root growth and water. In addition, as it prevents erosion, it works like a cellular net adding oxygen back into the soil while releasing nitrogen, micronutrients, and phosphate.
Furthermore, it protects plants against other organisms. Why? Mycelium competes against pathogenic fungi and other bacteria for healthy growth. The fact is that plants have beneficial relationships with mycelium working as an underground communication system.
According to a study done by the South China Agricultural University, Ren Sen Zeng found that when harmful fungi attach to plants, it releases a chemical signal to the mycelia and it warns other organisms.
Yet while it is good stuff for plants, there is now a new development taking place in the building industry as well. Contractors are starting to use mycelium fungi in building materials.
We can classify mycelium into three categories based on how the fungi obtain food from the other organisms.
Mycorrhizal Fungi For Plant Growth
When you look at your garden, from the trees and plants to vegetables, it grows best with mycorrhizal fungi. The truth is that some cultivated plants even need a symbolic relationship with it.
The fungi attach to living plants at the root surface to help protect plants to prevent soil disturbance. Hence, it forms a fully producing mycelium bed to provide nutrients the roots cannot reach.
In turn, photosynthesis takes place in the plant from the sun’s energy; it provides the mycelium with carbohydrates. Some examples of mycorrhizal are Chanterelles, Morels, and Boletes.
The exciting thing is you can buy the mycorrhizae in powder, liquid, or granular form to ensure good growth in your crops and plants.
Saprophytic Fungi are Edible and Medicinal Fungi
Most fungi fall into this group, and without saprophytic fungi, the forest floor becomes the home to fallen debris that will accumulate with time. So, you can say that this fungus is the garbage collector of the ecosystem.
The fungi will feed off dead organic matter that grows out of logs or leaves. They break the organic matter down, turning it into nutrient-rich soil. The majority of these fungi like:
Are edible or medicinal fungi people have used for centuries to treat ailments?
Parasitic Fungi Can Attack Plant Roots
As with beneficial mycorrhizal fungi, you can find parasitic fungi as well. These fungi are harmful to plant life but beneficial to some species as it creates dead organic matter for others to survive.
Hence, they attach to host plants and take their nutrients, causing severe damage by killing them, similar to root rot. Still, while they kill trees in the ecological system, they benefit the forest resulting in new growth.
Some examples of parasitic fungi are Aspen Bracket and Cordyceps.
Mycelium Benefits in The Garden
When you promote the growth of mycelium in the garden, it provides you with loads of benefits. So, you can grow a mutually beneficial relationship with it as it increases water efficiency as helps with water retention.
Furthermore, it reduces erosion with its cellular network providing soil particles and water. The oxygen in the soil improves root growth while adding nutrition from phosphate, nitrogen, and other micronutrients.
Lastly, it will protect plants from pathogens to make more nutrients available for your plants leading to beneficial bacterial growth. So, cultivating mushrooms with other plants can serve multiple functions.
Thus, the mycelium amends the soil to enrich it with nutrients for your crops, while the fruiting body is also a tasty and healthy addition to your diet.
How To Grow Mycelium
Now, if you want to grow your food or even medicine in the garden, there are different ways to grow mycelium.
Growing Mycelium Through Plug Spawn
With plug spawn, you can cultivate your mushroom on stumps or even logs, but it does take a bit longer than indoor cultivation. Yet, it will fruit longer than using an indoor kit.
Take a log or stump and drill some small holes into it. Then insert your mycelium-infused wooden cylinder into the holes.
Next, seal the holes using wax, and you should notice new growth in six months as the fungus attaches to the wood developing into mushrooms that start to fruit.
We recommend using a hardwood like Maple, Alder, or Oak, as softwood found in Cedar, Pine, and Fir is not recommended.
Mycelium Indoor Growing Kit
The growing method is simple: cultivate indoor mushrooms, and you need no experience. All you do is open the kit to keep it in a damp, cool place like your bathroom.
Then, keep it moist daily by giving it a spray of water. After about ten days, you will notice your mushrooms growing to begin fruiting.
The fantastic thing is you can harvest your mushrooms for a few months. Still, when using these methods, the mycelium is not doing what it is supposed to do in the garden.
Mycelium For Garden Growing
If you want to add mycelium’s benefits to the garden, we recommend growing them in straw or wood chips. You can use the woodchips and straw as mulch around your trees and plants.
Start by buying mycelium spawn and break it up to spread through the bark chips or straw.
Then spread the mulch over the garden.
The mycelium will take up to 12 months to take hold when fully producing it as a mycelium bed and will continue to grow for years. Still, if you want a high fruit yield in the ecosystem, then the King Stropharia is the garden giant and an excellent mushroom to start with.
As the garden giant grows on different organic matter, you can grow it in wood chips and the soil. Then, you can eat the mushroom as it grows large. But the best is to harvest the mushroom before it grows too big.
You even find mushrooms growing well in a compost pile and fallen logs creating a mycorrhizal network to provide us with the best food source.
Now, who thought you could grow mycelium and even enjoy eating it? While it is still a mysterious fungus, mycologists thus far have only identified 14% of these species. So, there is still much more to learn about mycelium fungus.