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

Fungi to bacteria ratio

Fungi to bacteria ratioWhat is a fungi to bacteria ratio?  The fungi to bacteria ratio is simply the mass of fungi in the soil compared to the mass of bacteria in the soil.  In most cases, all you really need to know is whether the soil is dominated by fungi, dominated by bacteria, or has an even proportion of both.

In nature, disturbed soils like those after a mudslide or in your recently tilled garden have a strong bacterial dominance.  As the soil is left alone for a while, fungi start to move in until habitats like prairies or your lawn have a relatively even proportion of fungi and bacteria in residence.  Later, as shrubs and trees take over, the fungi in the soil build up even more so that forest soils are strongly fungi dominated.

Scientists have started to look at the fungi to bacteria ratio preferred by garden plants as well.  They discovered that carrots, lettuce, and crucifers enjoy strongly bacteria dominated soils while tomatoes, corn, and wheat like soils that are closer to evenly matched (though still leaning a bit toward bacteria.)  On the other hand, most perennials, shrubs, and trees like the soil to be full of fungi at ratios from 10:1 to 50:1.

Clearly, folks like me who have been treating our trees just like our lettuce beds need to stop!

Automatic chicken waterers are on sale this month for 10% off.

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.

I read somewhere that you should mulch vegies with straw-and-compost-type mulches, and mulch trees with wood chips. The theory was that bacteria would thrive in the straw-and-compost, which suits vegies, and fungi would thrive in the wood mulch, which suits trees. Interesting.
Comment by Darren (Green Change) Tue Dec 15 20:59:44 2009
You read completely right! That pretty much sums up what I'm going to post about Thursday. :-)
Comment by anna Wed Dec 16 09:44:41 2009
Excuse me for being offtopic ... which Word Press theme do you use? Looks cool.
Comment by Pseussygets Sat Jan 2 19:52:05 2010
No problem with being off topic, but it's not a wordpress theme. I use ikiwiki and build the template by hand (with a little help from my brother.)
Comment by anna Sat Jan 2 20:18:33 2010

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.