Gardening with Laurie: Good fungi strengthens plant's root system

By Laurie Garretson
March 13, 2014 at midnight
Updated March 12, 2014 at 10:13 p.m.

Recent articles in newspapers and online say El Nino is returning.

El Nino is a temporary change in the climate of the Pacific Ocean around the equator area.

South American fishermen named this weather pattern El Nino because it typically occurs around the time of Christmas.

Not all El Ninos are alike, but many are believed to contribute to fewer hurricanes and drought conditions.

Fewer hurricanes would be nice, but we certainly do not need anything else contributing to our drought conditions.

The recent rain has been very nice, but we all need much, much more.

In a few weeks, the temperatures will begin to rise, and we will be back in another one of our dry, hot summers.

Our landscapes are still suffering from the past few summers. Four years of this kind of harsh weather has definitely taken a toll on all the plants, animals and other living creatures. We all need water.

As gardeners, we try to keep our gardens well-watered during all seasons. In a drought as serious as what we are experiencing, it's hard to supply the amounts of water needed.

Of course, there are things we gardeners do to help our plants such as keeping all flowerbeds and gardens well-mulched, using soaker hoses under the mulch and planting more well-adapted, native plants in our landscapes.

One thing that doesn't often get mentioned that can especially help our plants with all sorts of stress is inoculating them with mycorrhiza.

This is a word that many gardeners aren't familiar with. It means fungus root.

Mycorrhiza is a symbiotic relationship between the roots of plants and a fungus. This relationship is essential for both partners. The root fungus lives on the root systems of plants, and in turn, the fungus helps to transfer nutrients and water to the plants, and the plants supply carbohydrates (sugar) to the fungus.

Adding mycorrhizal fungi to plants basically adds length and efficiency to the plants' root system. In times of stress, this beneficial fungus can make a big difference in the health of a plant.

Mycorrhizal fungi can easily be applied at planting or to existent plants.

Only recently have mycorrhizal fungi really been researched. As a result, little information has been available to gardeners. This is something that all organic gardeners can certainly benefit from.

Until next time, let's try to garden with nature, not against it, and maybe all our weeds will become wildflowers.

Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner. Send your gardening questions to or in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.



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