Bloom Control Feed
The Dirt on Dirt Science of Gardening



© Karen Cloete, A. Botha
There is fungus among us—just underfoot—breaking down dead plant matter into nutrients needed by plants. Fungi come in many forms, some clearly visible (such as mushrooms) and some microscopic.

Certain special fungi have struck an inside deal with the plant world. These mycorrhizal fungi live in and among the roots of plants. Casting a wide absorptive net of filaments into the surrounding soil, mycorrhizal fungi scavenge nutrients from the soil, then deliver them to the roots of the plant. In exchange, the fungi live off of sugar they extract from the plants’ roots.

Plants that grow in cahoots with mycorrhizal fungi grow faster and enjoy greater resistance to drought and disease than plants that make do without them. Onions, corn, strawberries, and trees are particulary dependent on this association, especially in soils in which nutrients are sparse.

Worms—far from lowly!

What about pH?
What is potting soil?
What about fertilizer?
What's your soil type?

© Exploratorium