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how would one add / help mycorrhizae

Posted by louisianagal z7bMS (My Page) on
Mon, Feb 13, 12 at 8:55

On another thread (very long and informative - why do soil testing), mycorrhizae in the soil are discussed. How would one add, inoculate, facilitate mycorrhizae in one's gardens (mostly ornamental with edibles mixed in and some raised vegetable beds)?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: how would one add / help mycorrhizae

Wood chip mulch. There's nothing like it to support fungal mycelia in the soil. Also avoiding unnecessary cultivation helps, too.


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RE: how would one add / help mycorrhizae

Inoculation is the most effective way, but if you have perennials in the garden, you probably have at least some mycorrhizae already. . Once it's there, reducing tillage to a minimum will allow it to flourish. Soils shouldn't be disturbed much more than 1/4" below the surface.

Here is a link that might be useful: Shallow hoeing


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RE: how would one add / help mycorrhizae

In terms of adding mycorrhizal fungi, you would inoculate with one of the myco products. There are many out there, but I'd go with Fungi Perfecti (http://www.fungi.com/mycogrow/index.html) or one of the sources listed here: http://www.mycorrhizae.com/

For an existing perennial garden, you're going to want to go with one of the soluble products which can be watered-in.


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RE: how would one add / help mycorrhizae

"Inoculation" is most easily accomplished by dusting the roots of your transplants with purchased myco powder. It typically comes in bags. When you are doing your transplants, you spread the dust on the root zone of your transplant before setting it out into the soil, and thus the myco colonize the plant roots and the soils around.

To help fungals (including the myco) in the soil, you would use brown mulches and avoid tilling the soils (as planatus & bill indicated). In the book Teaming with Microbes, the authors describe fungally-dominated soils and composts as being those that are based on high-carbon "browns" (like wood or bark or dried leaves). They also indicated that tilling tilts the soil balance in favor of bacteria. "Green" mulches like lawn trimmings and freshly-pulled weeds favor the bacteria in the soils (according to Teaming with Microbes.)


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RE: how would one add / help mycorrhizae

Go to soilsecrets.com for the best mycorrhizal inocculents on the planet. Check out EndoMaxima - 1,450,000 SPORES per pound vs 6810 per pound (nearest competitor). MycoMaxima is an endo/ecto blend suitable for shrubs and trees. Propagules (broken pieces of mycorrhizal fungi) may reproduce or may not and are in most mycorrhizal products, though there are spores also. I want spores because they are almost 100% guaranteed to reproduce. You can inocculate seed or mix them in water and water them in for perennial plants and trees. The bottom line is that we must get them into contact with plant roots. I've been using them going on my third season and the results I have been getting are unbelievable!

Let's be clear on mycorrhizae. Brown mulches have NOTHING to do with establishing mycorrhizae. Other fungi break down woody OM. Mycorrhizae are attracted to plant roots because the roots leak SUGARS into the soil which attracts the mycorrhizae (feeding them) to set up shop on/in the roots depending on the plant. The mycos then send out their hyphae to forage for nutrients that the plant needs. This is called a SYMBIOTIC relationship (of mutual benefit to both). In other words, they are SPECIALIZED fungi. Tilling as noted above sets them back and ultimately destroys them. If you want a list of plants that use them vs. those who do not, visit mycorrhizalapplications.com. for a list. It can be downloaded. I am a cheerleader for Soil Secrets because from my chair, they are the best that there is. You get the most bang for your buck. I also humbly invite everyone to visit my website, thedoublevictorygarden.com. for more info. I have "Teaming With Microbes" in my research library - A great read. Hope this helps.


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RE: how would one add / help mycorrhizae

The fungi that develop that symbiotic relationship with some plant roots need a soil that is well endowed with organic matter to live in, just as the other members of thje Soil Food Web do. So the first step in encouraging that relationship to develop is to get you soil well endowed with organic matter. Once you have a good healthy soil with that active Soil Food Web the fungi there will establish that symbiotic relationship with the plants you grow. The fungi that establish that symbiotic relationship are the Mycorrhizal fungi.
Whether spending money purchasing something labeled Mycorrhizal fungi is worthwhile depends. If your soil does not have enough organic matter any Mycorrhizal fungi you add probably will do nothing and if your soil has sufficient levels of organic matter it will have the fungi that will develop that relationship without you adding any.


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RE: how would one add / help mycorrhizae

Kimmsr and ralleia, We have to agree to disagree. Here is what we now know from current research on mycorrhizae. Inoculation is the most effective way to get them into our soils. Once that is done, they will be there UNLESS we repeatedly till, use fungicides or otherwise harm the Soil Food Web. Grasses, meadows, and our gardens use Endo Mycorrhizae, the ones that penetrate the plant roots. Shrubbery and especially most trees generally use Ecto Mycorrhizae which attach to the surface of the roots. Some plant roots use both.

Most Endo Mycorrhizae are of the Glomus genus and are commonly found in undisturbed soils around the world. This genus forms a sticky protein glue named Glomalin (glow MAY lin) that leaks out into the soil and glues it together, helping to prevent erosion. Non Glomus mycorrhizae DO NOT produce Glomalin. Glomalin was discovered in 1996 by Sara Wright, a USDA scientist working at the Sustainable Agricultural Systems Laboratory in Beltsville, Md. She named it after Glomales,the taxonomic order of mycorrhizae that make the sticky protein.

The most exciting discovery to date is that Glomalin is the precursor of Humic Substances (Humus) and is responsible for over 95% of the Humic Substances in our soils! This blew me away because I, like all of us, believed that Humus came from manure, compost, mulch, etc. that we have been adding to our gardens, landscapes and ag soils for ages.

As stated in my previous posts, the value of manures, composts and mulches is that they provide FOOD (proteins, fats and carbohydrates) to the Soil Food Web. They and the Web only contribute 1 or 2 percent Humic Substances to the soil. The point here is that we need to recognize Organic Matter for what it is - Soil Food Web food, not humus production in our soils.

More and more farmers are inoculating their seed with mycorrhizae before planting. Benefits - they are using much less FERTILIZER and WATER to grow a crop because mycorrhizae are such good foragers. Their soils are generally very low in Humus and they till a lot, so they must inoculate for each crop. Wow, this is enough for now. My sources are listed in previous posts so I will not repeat them here. My advice is to go see for yourselves what is going on. Blessings to us all.


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A little more on mycorrhizae

Planatus, woody chip mulch doesn't have anything to do with mycorrhizae. The fungi that decompose the woodier organic materials are NOT MYCORRHIZAE, they are different. They are decomposers, not specialized foragers. Ralleia, you are mostly right except for the brown mulch part. Sorry if I am nitpicking here, but I feel that mycorrhizae are so important that we need to get this correct because THEY are the ones making our Humus! Blessings to us all.


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RE: how would one add / help mycorrhizae

You're not disagreeing with me--you're disagreeing with the authors of Teaming with Microbes. I am just sharing with they said, as I thought was communicated. I don't have an agenda in this discussion.

As to getting all excited about myco fungi, I've been using it for about 15 years, so I hardly see what is so exciting.


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RE: how would one add / help mycorrhizae

And this would be why having something growing in an area is the most important aspect of the whole process. This is why weeds are just as important as crops in the big picture. They fix what we break. Without roots in the ground you have dormant fungi. Also the good insects need a place to live too so if you make everything bare during any part of the year, you break all the cycles.

The most fertile land is a prairie. The most diverse is where the prairie and the forest meet. Plan accordingly.


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RE: how would one add / help mycorrhizae

Shebear - Bless you - You said it all, beautifully!

Ralleia, I bought Teaming With Microbes 4 years ago - And like me, you and most other folks, Jeff and Wayne might want to update what they already know.

My agenda is updating and sharing new information as it appears and judging from a search of the archives here, there is a lot of new info on mycorrhizae that isn't currently known by the community.


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RE: how would one add / help mycorrhizae

organic_popeye, What would you estimate the cost per acre would be if one was to do a pasture, maybe 100 acres or as low as 10 acres as a trial?


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RE: how would one add / help mycorrhizae

Dear novascapes, I would recommend that you get in touch with Michael Melendrez of Soil Secrets LLC, Los Lunas, N.M. I talk with him often and he is usually in his office in the mornings if he isn't on the lecture circuit. His phone number is 505-550-3246. Although extremely busy, he is a warm human being and one of the most knowledgeable people on earth concerning humus and mycorrhizae.

I personally am reluctant to advise you on your pastures but here are some questions. What is growing on them? Are they established and for how long? If they are, you may already have mycorrhizae depending on how you fertilize them. Are you using chemical inputs? If so, mycorrhizae can be inhibited by high levels of NPK. On large acreage you could have a test done. These are questions that Michael can answer much better than I. When you call, mention me, Popeye. Hope this helps.

Here is a link that might be useful: Soil Secrets LLC


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RE: how would one add / help mycorrhizae

People discovered the mycorrhiza fungi many years ago and Sir ALbert Howard strongly suggested that they be studied more closely back in the 1890's. Since they were found in soils doing that beneficial symbiotic relationship way back then they must have come from some place other than a warehouse.
If one provides the proper environment, ie. a soil well endowed with organic matter, the fungi that form that symbiotic relationship will develop without any innoculation necessary, without the need to spend more money on something that might not even work with the plants you are growing.


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RE: how would one add / help mycorrhizae

Kimmsr, you are a real funny guy. Sir Albert Howard was right - we need to study mycorrhizae more closely and we have - since the 1990's. Once we establish mycos in our depleted soils we don't have to do it again as long as we don't set them back and ultimately destroy them. Document your statements. Maintaining a proper environment doesn't make it happen if they aren't there to begin with.

Here is a link that might be useful: Soil Secrets Blog


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RE: how would one add / help mycorrhizae

Where did the fungi we call mycorrhiza come from in the begining? Where do people that sell them get them from? Where did those in the forest come from? Where did the mycorrhizal fungi that Dr. Alex Shigo wrote about come from?


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RE: how would one add / help mycorrhizae

Yes, exactly. If I have been (mostly ornamental but some edibles) gardening organically and no till for 6 yrs here, mulching with pine straw, compost, and shredded leaves then would it be at all necessary or beneficial to inoculate the existing beds with myco? Possibly when I plant my veggies (but not brassicas?) there would be an inexpensive powder to dip them in or a water soluble to water the first couple times?


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RE: how would one add / help mycorrhizae

I've used Biovam before with very good results. I won't make the claim that it's the best on the planet, since unlike other people I certainly haven't had the time to try every myco product on the planet. Biovam isn't expensive and is easy to apply.

It is probably beneficial to apply it, especially for the annual veggies. Perennials that are in the ground for years have time to be colonized by existing fungi, but with short-lived annuals, giving them it from the start sounds rational to me.

Here is a link that might be useful: Biovam source


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RE: how would one add / help mycorrhizae

popeye, There are other fungi both good and bad. I am wondering what you think about trichoderma that are enhanced...would they shut out micorrhizae?

Here is a link that might be useful: T-22


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RE: how would one add / help mycorrhizae

Wayne_5, There are thousands of different fungi operating in our soils - decomposers, pathogens, disease suppressors, symbiotics, etc. T-22 are disease suppressors and will not harm mycorrhizae, though once again, why enhance them? The natural trichoderma will do their job along with the rest of the Soil Food Web once we establish it in our soils.

Kimmsr, As stated more than once, mycorrhizae have been in our soils ever since plants - approximately 450 million years. We have lost them in our agricultural, construction, landscape and garden soils mostly due to tillage and that is why we need to reestablish them. We are not going to get them back with organic matter, compost and the like because they usually AREN'T THERE! We have to get plant roots in contact with them and that means inocculation.

Inoculating seeds with myco spores is the most effective way because as the root system emerges, the mycorrhizae are already right there and start foraging for plant food. Another reason that inoculating seed is so easy is that seeds have a negative static charge and myco spores have a positive static charge, so they stick together. On established perennials, we will have to water them in. Important - once we reestablish them we don't have to do it again! They will be there from then on UNLESS we continue to set them back/destroy them by tilling, etc.

It has only been since 1990 that the research unlocking mycorrhizal benefits was initiated. Sara Wright (1996) discovered Glomalin, the protein soil glue. (See "Teaming With Microbes" pg. 39 for a Sara Wright photo of a corn root with mycorrhizae and Glomalin) The discovery that Glomalin was the MAJOR precursor to humic substance formation came later and is what we are so excited about!

By the way, Jeff Lowenfels knows Michael Melendrez, his work and his products and heartily endorses them. Also in "Teaming With Microbes" there is an excellent presentation on mycorrhizae starting on page 60. From my chair, "Teaming With Microbes" should be in our libraries. We are trying hard to get the new mycorrhizal findings out to all growers so our plants can benefit and we all can benefit.

Finally, thank you Louisianagal for starting this thread. It is helping to keep mycorrhizae in the spotlight and on the front burner, which is where they NEED TO BE.


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RE: correction to previous post

Small correction - Glomalin is a glycoprotein not a protein. It has sugars as well as proteins and that is why it is such a good soil glue. Google glomalin and go exploring, it's fun!


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RE: how would one add / help mycorrhizae

  • Posted by pt03 2b Southern Manitob (My Page) on
    Fri, Feb 17, 12 at 19:05

I'd be interested in a small experiment. Put one seed in a pile of some inoculant stuff, one seed in a pile of compost, one seed in some soil and one seed in a pile of soil/compost mix. See which ones grow the best.

Lloyd


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RE: how would one add / help mycorrhizae

I'm plotting on doing an experiment...probably separate trials of tomato, peppers, peas, beans, cucumbers, squash, and some trees.

It'll work out to be double-blind since after I write down what I did and plant it, I'll forget which is which in a couple weeks.


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RE: how would one add / help mycorrhizae

Post the pics for peer review!


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RE: how would one add / help mycorrhizae

I'll post lots of pictures and methods for peer review. It won't be for many months yet, though, since it isn't even planting season here. About the only thing getting planted now are brassicas, which are known to generally *not* have any symbiosis with myco fungi.


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RE: how would one add / help mycorrhizae

Does the mycorrhizae inoculate for gardens and grass form the same symbiotic relationship as clover, and other legumes?
What effect does soil composition, pH, and climatic conditions have on the effect of adding the inoculate? Or are there different types for different situations?
What is the dormant lifespan of the inoculates being sold commercially?


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RE: how would one add / help mycorrhizae

If one believes that adding this "miracle product" to your soil will help, it will. If one believes that spending money for something one does not need is necessary, it is.
Each plant forms a symbiotic relationship, mycorrhizal, with different species of fungi. There is not any one species of fungi that will form that relationship with every plant and some plant families do not form that symbiotic (mutually beneficial) relationship, so purchasing from somewhere something labeled "Mychorrizal Fungi" may or may not be of benefit to your garden. Or it might simply be a waste of your money.
Since we know that tilling the soil will disrupt the Soil Food Web, from whence these fungi come, enough to set them back for a year, maybe more, how would one know if this package of fungi is still alive?


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RE: how would one add / help mycorrhizae

In tropical climes with perennial plants, I can see an ongoing mycorrhizal structure. What I don't see is an overwintering structure in our northern gardens. I see more of a spore medium...like all other fungi that overwinter. If deep tilling would kill fusarium, I would be out there doing it.


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RE: how would one add / help mycorrhizae

  • Posted by jolj 7b/8a-S.C.USA (My Page) on
    Sat, Feb 18, 12 at 21:30

Well, you folks have not got me to stop tilling.
But my princess said she does not like to pull weeds.
So the beds I am putting in for her, will be no till.
I will use heavy mulch, maybe cardboard to keep weeds to a manageable amount(Ruth Stout system).
When I think microbes, I prefer Bacteria over fungi.
The Bacteria based soil is what I compost with now.
The Bacteria is a little more forgiving of light tilling also.
As most of you know I know little about this subject & will be learning as I garden.


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RE: how would one add / help mycorrhizae

Kimmsr, I wanted to learn more about MF after reading Popeye's posts, so I've been perusing academic articles on google scholar.

What I've learned is that inoculating with arbuscular mycorrhiza fungi has been found to be beneficial in all sorts of situations, such as preventing transplant shock; reducing the effects of high salinity; production of peppers; growth of container plants in nursery conditions, etc.

As many of you know already, research indicates that intense tilling reduces native AMF. As you might suspect, using fall cover crops increases the native AMF population.
Research ALSO indicates that inoculating seedlings in AMF when planting in low-AMF soil tilled soil resulted in much larger plants at harvest (about 2.5 times larger).

According to the research, the inoculated colony of AMF survives and proliferates, even in the presence of native AMF. And these are multiple studies from multiple researchers who have no financial stake in it.

So.... I'll be doing my own little research project this spring using MF in containers.


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RE: how would one add / help mycorrhizae

pt03, Don't put a seed in pure mycorrhizal inoculant and try to grow it. It is NOT soil or a growing medium, it is an inoculant. Don't waste it by trying to grow plants in it. Do your trials with the same soil and fertilizer for multiple plants with the only difference being mycorrhizae or no mycorrhizae. Then you get an honest trial.

Novascapes, In general, grasses, flowers, vegetables and the like use Endo mycorrhizae. Woody shrubs and trees use Ecto mycorrhizae and some plants use both. In a previous post I mentioned Mycorrhizal Applications, a website that has a downloadable list of plants and which mycorrhizae they use. The Endo type of choice is Glomus Intraradices, the most common and found on every continent where plants grow.

Any mycorrhizal inoculant should have a minimum shelf life of a year if kept dry and at room temp. I use mine well before then cause as the old saying says, "It ain't doing us any good in the bag." This saying was in reference to fertilizers but also applies here. The nitro-fixers on legumes you are referring to are bacteria, not fungi. They form nitrogen nodules on the plant roots which can be seen as little bumps. If your soil is in the ph range to grow plants, mycorrhizae are not affected. My 2010 garden ph was 8.8 - SEVERELY alkaline due to excess magnesium, potassium and sodium. Calcium was perfect. The soil was 80+ percent silt. My 2011 garden ph was 7.3 - slightly alkaline, 60% sand and 40% silt and too porous. The excess minerals mentioned above as well as calcium were leached down out of the root zone and that was why the ph was lowered. Organic Matter (not humus) was less than 1%. My 2011 garden was not as good as the 2010 garden but still produced excellent flavor but smaller plants and yield was not as good. I could still see night and day differences in my inoculated plants vs the controls not inoculated, so it appeared that the mycos were functioning very well. Were you able to contact Michael Melendrez yet?

We need to remember that mycorrhizal inoculants can contain propagules or spores or both. Propagules are broken pieces of hyphae and spores are like eggs. Propagules are not nearly as viable as spores and many of the myco products use propagules with some spores. Soil Secrets has mostly spores but there are probably some propagules in there too but they count the spores only. If you are considering ANY myco inoculant, call them and ask them for a spore count. If they can't give you one, I would continue shopping.

Mycorrhizae winter over very well. We must remember that when the season is over and the root systems die, the mycorrhizae go dormant until next year when a living root system puts out sugar to attract them again. This is why we don't have to keep inoculating once we have them established. Also, being foragers, mycorrhizal hyphae have been found 2 or 3 feet out from inoculated plants in just one season! They really go searching for plant nutrients.

ssmdgardener, Good on ya for doing your research and for your research project. In fact all posters here scheduling container/field trials are right on and good on ya too! THIS is how we find out the truth concerning whether a product is effective or not - TEST IT! From my chair, lame statements with no valid references don't cut it.

jolj, I would read about the Soil Food Web. Bacteria and fungi form the 1st level and both are needed. True, grasses are bacterially dominated and forests are fungal dominated. Most of the wild plants, flowers, vegetables, etc. fall in between, so we need a mixed bag.


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RE: how would one add / help mycorrhizae

  • Posted by pt03 2b Southern Manitob (My Page) on
    Sun, Feb 19, 12 at 6:58

Sorry popeye, I was being a bit facetious. IMO people tend to forget that growing plants is more complicated than any one item. It is a system, and it works in ways we can only guess at, but it does work. People tend to look for one silver bullet that is the be all and end all. In doing so, they get sold a bunch of stuff they don't really need to buy.

Lloyd


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RE: how would one add / help mycorrhizae

Prior to what ever year people started selling Mycorrhizal Fungi it was part of the Soil Food Web and functioning quite well in soils properly cared for, that is how researchers found this fungi. Since this is something Ma Nature provided long before man "discoivered" it and it was doing what it did without man even knowing about it, why is it now necessary to spend money on something Ma Nature will supply if we but make our soil into a good, healthy soil?
As Dr. Alex Shigo found in the research he did there are many different kinds of of fungi that form that symbiotic relationship with plants and those that work well with trees do not work well with roses.


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RE: how would one add / help mycorrhizae

I found this link below and thought I would pass it along as it is pretty easy to understand.

Here is a link that might be useful: Glomalin What Is It


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RE: how would one add / help mycorrhizae

Kimmsr, in the research I've read, AMF was particularly useful when the SFW wasn't functioning well for a variety of reasons: high salinity; high heavy metal contamination; prior coal mining land; over tillage; intensely farmed agro land; nurseries that grow for retail, etc.

I know I've made some dumb mistakes with over tilling, so my SFW isn't functioning optimally, either, and I can't grow fall cover crops in my small back yard. Also, I'll be doing a lot of container gardening, and there is no AMF to start with in my plastic containers. That's why I'll be doing the investigating this year to see if the inoculant will be effective for me.

I only found 1 recent (post 2000) article by Dr. Shigo. His results echoed the other studies in that high phosphorus fertilizers in the presence AMF depresses plant growth.


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RE: how would one add / help mycorrhizae

Does the mycorrhizae inoculate for gardens and grass form the same symbiotic relationship as clover, and other legumes?
What effect does soil composition, pH, and climatic conditions have on the effect of adding the inoculate? Or are there different types for different situations?
What is the dormant lifespan of the inoculates being sold commercially?

Yes, the myco also form a symbiotic relationship with legumes. However, different species of the myco favor one plant type or another, so it isn't so simple as to call them all the same. There are quite a few research studies that you can peruse to find out more about it, but for example the study in the link below found that legumes were more heavily colonized by Glomus clarum (an endo-mycorrhizal fungi) than non-legumes were. But both legumes and non-legumes were colonized.

So there will certainly be more suitable groups of species of mycorrhizal fungi depending on what plant you are trying to grow.

The soil conditions can have an impact on the fungi--artificial fertilizers or soil fumigants can inhibit growth or kill the fungi. Also, the commercial formulations of myco typically contain other ingredients to support the growth of the myco. I stumbled across a reprint of a wonderful article that explains things well.

Mycorrhizal Management article

It's a great article, and if you search on the author's name you will find that he is a big name in myco research, though I am not familiar with the site that hosted the reprint.

The myco formulations that I have purchased all have a one-year expiration date. I thought that for the powdered stuff there was also a limited time to use it from when it got wet, but I can't find where I read it.

Here is a link that might be useful: Legumes, non-legumes, and myco study


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Mycorrhizal fungi products shelf life

Well this is interesting, concerning the lifespan of different myco products. If you research the different products, you'll find that some cite spores/cubic centimeter, while some cite propagules.

Mycorrhizal fungi are sold as spores, the "seeds" of fungi. Propagules, or root fragments, last only a couple of weeks away from their hosts, whereas spores are viable for at least eighteen months after produced. The spores come in different forms. Granular forms can be mixed into potting soil, mixed with water and drenched into rocky porous soil, applied as a root dip gel on bare root plants, or injected into the root zone of existing plants using a soil probe. The goal is to get the spores in physical contact with the roots that they will colonize. Application is easy and inexpensive, and requires no special equipment. For small plants, cost is only a few pennies per plant.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pacific Horticulture article


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RE: how would one add / help mycorrhizae

organic_popeye, I beg to defer but there is a Professor in Kota Kinabalu Sabah who is very knowledgeable in this subject. He has come up with mycorrhizae that has more than a million spores in 1 teaspoon. I doubt if anyone can beat that. His web site is: www.agroecologic.com and his name is Prof Victor Lee, one of the kindest men I have every met.


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RE: how would one add / help mycorrhizae

Mycorrhiza refers to a type of relationship some fungi develop with plants and not to a specific type of fungi. If you make your soil into a good healthy soil those fungi will develop that symbiotic, mutually beneficial, relationship without you spending money on something that will probably not help since the fungi that form those relationships with trees are not the same as those that form that relationship with tomatoes.
If you want fungi to develop a symbiotic relationship with your plants work at making the soil into a type that will promote that instead of looking for magic elixars that will not work unless you have that good healthy soil they can exist in. If you do not have a good healthy soil throwing some stuff labeled "Myorrhizal Fungi" will not help since the conditions they need to live in are not present. If you have a good healthy soil they will be there so the need to add some will not be there.


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