“From dead plant matter to nematodes to bacteria, never underestimate the cleverness of mushrooms to find new food!” ~ Paul Stamets
If spring is about roots, fall and winter about leaves and stems, then summer is all about fruits. But you can’t have these without expensive and environmentally damaging synthetic chemicals and pesticides, right? WRONG. All you need is fungi.
Tomatoes, cucumber, eggplant, pepper, melon all grow in the garden with little inputs provided the soil is healthy and full of mycorrhizal fungi. Promoting this crucial soil/plant relationship is easy to do: just ditch all your fancy chemicals and fertilizers and forget what you learned at the Master Gardener class.
Come be a brown thumb with me instead … and mimic nature.
Fungi Mulch Mycelium (White ‘Fluff’)
Let the decomposing begin!
Carrot (Edible) and Fungi (not Edible)
Bosom Soil Buddies
Mulch fruiting trees liberally with leaves or chipped tree debris all the way out to the drip line and beyond — then water well to get the soil beings going. These (usually abundant and free) carbon inputs are loaded with carbon, the favorite hangout for soil fungi.
Just be sure not to mulch right up against the trunk of the tree; that’s a fungus problem you do not want your tree to have.
Turkey Fig Tree
Mulched 4″ To The Dripline
Even better, build a compost pile that is fungally dominant, that is, comprised mostly of leaves and cardboard and twigs (carbon), only minimally veggie waste and manures (nitrogen). Like any organic method, be sure to water well as you build it; this moisture will be held in like a sponge, slow-released into the soil as necessary. It’s quick and easy to do; you don’t even need to buy a ‘bin’ or a ‘cage’ or anything else for that matter. Just layer materials in a 4 ft x 4 ft pile, as tall as you can make it and with as many materials as you can collect!
Compost, mulch, and creature biodiversity are the keys to any successful organic garden.
Ripe Turkey Figs
Two Spoonfuls of Sugar!
For the ultimate in lazy gardening (like what I do), put all your work energy into building a compost pile properly instead, then plant straight into it. The pile will heat up quickly, breaking down as soil microbes do their decomposition thing. The fungi will then attach to plant roots (mycorrhiza) as it grows and matures, virtually extending the plant’s root system well outside its capable root zone.
You’ll do little else than just walk outside and harvest fruit in the heat of summer, the best part of having a home garden. (Okay, maybe not the best part; hand-sharing a ripe fig occasionally with my wonderfully, wild neighbor is living the dream!)
Can you say ‘Fig Cake?’
Kale, Squash Pepper
(Kale — Brassica family — does not depend upon fungi for growth.)
No ‘pest’ infestation.
Tomatoes!! And Apple, Carrot, Seeds
My favorite summer fruit.
From the School Garden
Eggplant, Squash, Broccoli, Tomato, Pepper
A mix of my garden + School Garden
Even More Tomatoes
All my T-shirt could hold.
Take care of the soil beings, and I promise you’ll have plenty of fruits to enjoy without all the fuss of a traditional micro-managed garden. All you need is your hands, some soil, a few seeds, and lots of fungi friends.
- Home Garden: 5 Steps to Stewarding Living Soil | DirtNKids, January 2019
- School Gardens: Building Friendships, Reviving Dead Soil | DirtNKids, November 2018
- The Big Green-Up | DirtNKids, April 2017
10 thoughts on “Fruit, Figs and Fungi Friends”
Here’s a sort-of-off-topic alert from my NPSoT chapter:
Tom’s Thumb Nursery on 45th Street in Galveston just received an order of hundreds of quart sized, blooming, Asclepias perennis. They’re selling for $7.99 each and have an additional 20% off till July 6. I thought you might be interested if you have a spot for white swamp milkweed.
I love seeing your produce, and reading about how you help bring it into being. I’ve got a sinkful of Celeste figs right now. It’s pouring down rain, so a little jam making might be in order.
I have many spots for swamp milkweed! Unfortunately, I will be nowhere near Galveston this weekend.
On another note, I get NPSoT event news as a (new) member … how did I not see this?
Hope your figgy jam session rocked today, Linda!
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The sale on the milkweed is this weekend, but they’ll have the plants until they sell out, so if you happen down that way later, you might check and see if they still have some.
Which NPSoT chapter did you join? I got this as a mass email, which I think went out to our membership. It wasn’t in our chapter newsletter, or the state.
I got a lengthy email: Native Plant and Environmental Events July 2019. Is it in there and I glazed over it somehow?
I think I’m in ‘coastal prairie’ chapter which meets in Rosenberg. I have not attended a meeting yet, but I am (finally) using iNaturalist. Baby steps!
Hmmm… I get that newsletter, too, but there’s never anything specific to our chapter except the monthly meeting and any special events we’re having, like the plant sale. I’m puzzled about what you joined. Here’s a list of the native plant society chapters. You can subscribe to any of the chapter newsletters — I follow the Houston and Kerrville chapters as well as the Clear Lake.
That sounds and looks wonderful, Shannon. We have not invested the time in a vegetable garden (yet), but if we ever do, we would try to grow everything as naturally as possible.
It’s shorter growing season there, but I’ve no doubt it can be done successfully when soil health is put first. A keyhole would be the first garden I put in if I was to move to Woodland Park (oh .. and I do think about that!). Just got to figure a way to keep the deer and bears out of it.
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The growing season in Woodland Park would be even shorter, and one would definitely have to contend with deer, bears, and probably various other critters. Let me know when it’s time for the move. 🙂
I’m trying to do my best with my own compost.
Over here, at least, it’s definitely time well spent. Soil recipes have become my speciality. Just like young adults away at college, if you feed fungi, they will show up unannounced for that free meal, guaranteed!
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