Monday, September 14, 2009

Who knew there was so much to dirt!

By Whitney Rideout

I went to a great class on Saturday led by Gisele "G" Schoniger, an organic gardening educator for Kellogg Garden Products. She talked about how to build and nourish healthy soil and the importance of mycorrhizae in that process. Mycorrhizal fungi penetrate growing plant root tissues, surround the root mass and extend far into the surrounding soil, encompassing a much greater volume of soil than that occupied by the plant's own roots and root hair system. The fungi's long thread-like mycelia are especially effective in capturing moisture and nutrients from the soil, particularly nitrogen and phosphorous. The fungi consume the nutrients but more importantly, they generously share them with the roots of the host plant. In return, the host plant provides the fungi with photosynthesized nutrients, especially sugars. Mycorrhizae help to absorb nutrients, assist in drought tolerance and create ideal garden soil structure, soil that drains, breaths and retains optimum moisture. Gisele is leading another class on Saturday, Sept 19th at 1:00pm at Dennis’ Seven Dees Nursery and Landscaping – Cedar Hills location. I’d encourage anyone interested in organic gardening to meet Gisele and hear her tips on building healthy soil.

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