Good or Bad Fungi

Everywhere in nature there are an enormous load of Fungi and Bacteria floating in the air all around us, as well as lying on the ground just waiting for a gust of wind to lift it up into the air.

No one takes any notice of this heavy load of micro-organisms until they get hay fever or asthma, or it causes a disease to some of their prized plants leaving a particular mark on the plant.  These marks help identify the disease and what fungicide will be effective to treat the disease and not damage the plants.  If it does damage the plant there will be a small retardation of that plant’s growth.

Some people have found a mass of white threads in their compost heap or potting mix with a high organic content. This is just the “roots” of the fungi called Mycelium that is living in the soil and feeding on the nutrients within that soil or potting mix.

The fungi are desirable in that they bind a single particle of sandy soil into a small crumb creating a larger surface area in proportion to its size. The larger surface area gives that soil particle a greater surface area to exchange nutrients in the soil.

Newly attracted nutrients in solution are then easier for the plant root hairs to absorb.  (Remember I said that a plant can take up nutrients ONLY via its root Hairs)

As the fungi mycelium dies it also becomes organic matter
and organic matter can absorb and hold a lot of nutrients and water making these substances available for the root hairs.

There is a revolting but interesting fungi called Dog Vomit Fungi. (Fuligo sepitica – though it is not a fungi but a Slime Mould when you see one you will know why it is called a Slime Mould).

It actually looks like dog vomit; is slippery and will slowly move over the grass briefly until it dries out and goes back to its heat and desiccation resistant form, called a spore.

It is initially bright yellow but quickly goes brown then dark brown. There are no control methods needed as it will quickly die and not be seen again until the next prolonged rain.

It is not harmful to your plants – it just looks yucky.  It is considered good fungus feeding on microorganisms that live in dead plant material and contribute to the decomposition of dead vegetation while helping the cycling of nutrients.   And it can reduce plant disease by consuming bacteria or pathogenic fungi in your soil.

Often found in your compost heap, mulch, dead leaves in your gutters, plus many other places, you can generally leave it alone and it will go away as the weather gets dryer.  But if you want to remove it you can break it up so it dries out in the air or scrap it up and dispose of it in your rubbish bin or HOT compost pile if you have one.

Today’s Did You Know…?

Seeds will not germinate until the conditions are just right for it.  Small seeds need to be close to the surface so sunlight can shine on them for germination to occur.

Because small seeds don’t have much seed reserve (for food) they need to germinate and start producing food for themselves via their seed leaves before they run out of the stored food in the seed.

Big seeds do not have this problem with their extra seed food storage so can be sown deeper into the soil as they do not require sunlight to germinate.

Other seeds need at least one and a half inches (37 mm) of rain to wash out the chemical inhibitor in the seed coat in order to germinate, grow, flower and set seed again without further rain.

This is a survival mechanism in extremely dry areas to stop plants germinating without enough water to go through their life cycle before the next rains come.  It may be six months or more before 37 mm of rain falls again.

This is yet another way that nature protects plants from the harsh conditions they live in but still manage to survive in.