The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Different mulches for bacteria and fungi

Wood chip mulchSo how do we build vegetable gardens with soil dominated by bacteria while creating fungi-dominated soil around our trees?  The first step is to start being more sophisticated about our mulch choices.

Bacteria are good at breaking down what composters like to call "greens" --- grass clippings, food scraps, and even straw (since the grain was cut while it was still growing and full of sugars.)  Bacteria also thrive on easy to digest manures.  On the other hand, fungi shine when given "browns" --- fallen leaves, wood chips, and anything else full of lignin and hard for most other organisms to digest.

The consistency and application method of the mulch matters too.  Wet, finely ground mulch supports bacteria, even if the mulch consists of fallen leaves.  On the other hand, dry mulch in big chunks will encourage fungi.  Any mulch that is worked into the soil will feed bacteria first, while mulch placed on the soil surface will feed fungi.

So an optimal mulch for a vegetable or annual flower garden would probably consist of finely chopped, wet grass clippings.  Under our trees, the best mulch would be big chunks of leaves or wood chips.

Dreaming of spring chicks?  Our homemade chicken waterer prevents drowning.

This post is part of our Teaming With Microbes lunchtime series.  Read all of the entries:

Anna Hess's books
Want more in-depth information? Browse through our books.

Or explore more posts by date or by subject.

About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

Want to be notified when new comments are posted on this page? Click on the RSS button after you add a comment to subscribe to the comment feed, or simply check the box beside "email replies to me" while writing your comment.

profile counter myspace

Powered by Branchable Wiki Hosting.

Required disclosures:

As an Amazon Associate, I earn a few pennies every time you buy something using one of my affiliate links. Don't worry, though --- I only recommend products I thoroughly stand behind!

Also, this site has Google ads on it. Third party vendors, including Google, use cookies to serve ads based on a user's prior visits to a website. Google's use of advertising cookies enables it and its partners to serve ads to users based on their visit to various sites. You can opt out of personalized advertising by visiting this site.