The revolutionary benefits of mycorrhizal mycelium in soil and cannabis cultivation
You have probably experienced the joy of seeing magnificent mushrooms in nature. No matter what fungus you come across, it is actually a small part of a huge underground organism, the mycelium… And when present in the soil, the mycelium adds a lot of benefits to it. all plants that grow with it, including cannabis. This symbiosis, this place of exchange between the fungus and the plant is called mycorrhizae. “Myco” for mushroom and “rhize” for root. This phenomenon could allow you to establish a more sustainable, better quality, less polluting and lower cost culture.
The benefits of mycelium for plant life
The mycelium is a part of the fungi, which appears in the form of white filaments and which grows about fifteen centimeters under the ground. Called in common parlance, mushroom white, it is the vegetative apparatus of mushrooms. This set of filaments, more or less branched, called hyphae, is found in the soil or the growing medium.
There are three types of mycelium:
- Saprophyte, a kind of scavenger that feeds on dead organic matter.
- parasitic, which absorbs nutrients from a living host.
- Mycorrhizae, which feeds on living plants, in a mutually beneficial relationship
- Mycorrhizae are the mycelium that most gardeners will want to grow in their soil ...
So why are mycorrhizae so beneficial for plants? Mycorrhizae feed by attaching themselves to the roots of plants. They provide the fungi with sugars resulting from photosynthesis. Mycorrhizae extend the plant's root system and help it reach distant nutrients that would otherwise be inaccessible to the plant. Attaching directly to the root also helps nutrients. In particular, phosphates become more soluble for plants.
Improved soil structure and drought resistance
Growers using mycorrhizae in their nutrient mix will tell you that this magic mushroom is a huge boost to root growth. This process also helps plants of all kinds become more drought tolerant.
According to a study published in the European Journal of Soil Biology, researchers looked at the benefits of mycorrhizae for citrus fruits. indicating that arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi have benefited citrus seedlings by improving soil structure and increasing their propensity for drought resistance. Arbuscular mycorrhizae are the most common type of mycorrhizal mycelium used to build soil.
Expels heavy metals
Another benefit of mycorrhizae is to help expel heavy metals from groundwater. This thus reduces the root absorption of these often toxic metals. Cannabis is naturally an annual plant. It has the annoying habit of absorbing a large number of heavy metals present in the soil where the plant is grown. Besides, we use hemp to clean polluted soil !
Therefore, outdoor growers should have their soil tested regularly ... If the levels of heavy metal toxicity are above average, ways will have to be found to sanitize the growing medium. To this end, mycorrhizal fungi can be a powerful ally in this remediation process.
Another study of this type is published by the European Journal of Soil Biology and available on ScienceDirect. According to this study, the presence of mycorrhizae "improves the growth and accumulation of arsenic" in certain plant species. This "only reduces the accumulation of arsenic in plants but has no significant effect on plant growth." Finally, the best known benefit of mycorrhizae in soil is their ability to break down organic matter and build soil, making it less prone to erosion and more nutritious for plant life.
Grow mycorrhizal fungi for your cannabis plants
Harnessing the mysterious powers of mycorrhizae is a must for both indoor and outdoor cannabis growers. There are a number of ways to do this, ranging from extreme DIY methods, to simply buying in the store. The method differs if you are growing cannabis indoors or outdoors. It all depends on the time you give and of course your budget.
Grow your own mycorrhizae outdoors
Most plants found in the wild grow with mycorrhizal fungi. You can use them to grow organisms in your own soil. This method uses ingredients that can be harvested for free. Most cannabis growers will be able to easily acquire the precious mycelium.
Unfortunately, the method is long. It takes over three months to complete and is not ideal for indoor plants.
- Go to a forest or meadow that has a wide variety of trees and shrubs (excluding pines and oaks).
- Move the undergrowth a few meters under a tree. Dig carefully to about one foot deep.
- Place a bucket or pot there.
- Mix the soil with one part of vermiculite, another of coco peat, and a part of compost.
- Make sure to use compost with no added fertilizer. And do not add fertilizer! Because it can hinder or even stop the growth of mycorrhizal fungi.
- Put the mixture in a large garden pot.
- Next, plant your host, or an annual plant that will help inoculate mycorrhizae. A good choice is a mixture of grass seeds. Like wheat, corn or bahiagrass, a well-studied mycorrhizal host. Or seeds like onions, leeks or chives. See the seeds of legumes like alfalfa, clover, or peas.
- Do not use spinach, sugar beet, lupine and members of the mustard family. Because they are part of plants that do not form a symbiotic relationship with mycorrhizae.
- For best results, soak the seeds for 10 at 12 hours before planting.
- Alternate between seed types to promote diversity.
Collect your colony of mycorrhizae
Using this method, the mycorrhizal colony will reach maturity in three months. In order to force the fungus to reproduce, cut the plants down to the stems. And withhold all water 10 days before harvest. This will kill the plants, but will encourage the mycorrhizae to release the spores.
After 10 days, the mycorrhizal fungi will be ready to harvest and use in your growing medium. Harvest beneficial fungi by pulling dead plants by their roots. Do this carefully in small pieces, and adding the root system, which has been completely "infected" with mycorrhizae, to your soil. The symbiosis will take quickly with your cannabis plants, and will renew itself after each harvest. This is the advantage of an outdoor culture.
Mycorrhizal trainers for indoor cultivation
The easiest and most affordable way to promote the growth of mycorrhizae in your soil is to purchase a mycorrhizal product. There are loads of them on the market, and only for cannabis plants… Just do your research at a growshop as you would any cannabis nutrient product. It's a simple, foolproof method of adding beneficial fungi to your soil.