Thursday, January 25, 2007

Teaming with Microbes Arrived Today

My anticipated copy of "Teaming with Microbes" has arrived. While I can't comment on the full text with any authority yet, I can say that it is well organized and has an extensive index (8 pages). It pleased me no end to see "soil science 28 - 42". There is also a valuable guide to labs and suppliers (4 pages). A supplier of mycorhhizal fungi here in Spokane is going to be getting a new customer.

My current soil obsession, bio-char, the foundational ingredient in terra preta nova, is disappointingly not mentioned. I have gotten the impression that Elaine Ingham, who has achieved demi-goddess standing in soil-web circles, was unswervingly skeptical of charcoal in large volumes as a soil amendment at the time the book went to publication, so I am not particularly surprised. In the post I saw, she based her concern on charcoal's high C:N ration putting soils out of balance. I'm chalking this up to fear of the unfamiliar. Too bad. Elaine Ingham is highly influential. When she comes around, her endorsement will save lives.

My restaurateur grandfather had a personal test to see if a chef was up to his standards: if the butter dish arrived without ice, he lowered his expectation that anything else could be properly prepared. I make similar menu-wide judgements on my orders of eggs-over-easy and chile rellenos. My acid test for an elightened organic gardening book is the treatment of glomalin (recalcitrant mycorhhizal fungally produced glycoprotein that accounts for 1/3 of world soil carbon). It is mentioned on page 37 (see familiar glomalin photo on page 39), so things are looking up at this point.


back40 said...

A couple of years ago I corresponded with RTI (Reforestation Technologies International) about commercial availability of Mycorrhizal inoculum. They sent an info packet touting a variety of packaging methods suitable for various uses.

I haven't talked to them recently but the web site is still there. They are in Salinas, CA.

Erich J. Knight said...

I have used Mycorrhizal fungus inoculation in planting custom ornamental gardens for about ten years.
The sleep, then creep, then leap phenomena of new plantings of trees and shrubs is partly over come by the acceleration of the reestablishment of the symbiotic fungal / root relationship.

M-Roots is the best bang for the buck that I've found,
25 billion per 40 lb bag @ $13,
24 different species both indo and exo

Here's the M-Roots site:

Philip Small said...

Jeff Lowenfels wrote me back to say:

Great! Thanks. You are going to love the book.....just remember the
small mistake on page 41/42---more hydrogen ions means lower pH and

Let me know what you think@!

Carol said...

I appreciate you joining in with all the garden bloggers who are reading this book, and appreciate your opinion as a soil scientist. I'll have a post in a few days with links to all the posts about the book.

Carol said...

I'd also be interesting in knowing how soil science has changed in the last 25+ years. I took an introductory class in soil science in 1978 or 79. And I don't recall much discussion about what was living in the soil. Has that become more of an emphasis?