Mycorrhizal Planet: How Symbiotic Fungi Work with Roots to Support Plant Health and Build Soil Fertility

Mycorrhizal Planet: How Symbiotic Fungi Work with Roots to Support Plant Health and Build Soil Fertility

by Michael Phillips


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Mycorrhizal Planet: How Symbiotic Fungi Work with Roots to Support Plant Health and Build Soil Fertility by Michael Phillips

Regenerative practices for the farm, garden, orchard, forest, and landscape

Mycorrhizal fungi have been waiting a long time for people to recognize just how important they are to the making of dynamic soils. These microscopic organisms partner with the root systems of approximately 95 percent of the plants on Earth, and they sequester carbon in much more meaningful ways than human “carbon offsets” will ever achieve. Pick up a handful of old-growth forest soil and you are holding 26 miles of threadlike fungal mycelia, if it could be stretched it out in a straight line. Most of these soil fungi are mycorrhizal, supporting plant health in elegant and sophisticated ways. The boost to green immune function in plants and community-wide networking turns out to be the true basis of ecosystem resiliency. A profound intelligence exists in the underground nutrient exchange between fungi and plant roots, which in turn determines the nutrient density of the foods we grow and eat.

Exploring the science of symbiotic fungi in layman’s terms, holistic farmer Michael Phillips (author of The Holistic Orchard and The Apple Grower) sets the stage for practical applications across the landscape. The real impetus behind no-till farming, gardening with mulches, cover cropping, digging with broadforks, shallow cultivation, forest-edge orcharding, and everything related to permaculture is to help the plants and fungi to prosper . . . which means we prosper as well.

Building soil structure and fertility that lasts for ages results only once we comprehend the nondisturbance principle. As the author says, “What a grower understands, a grower will do.” Mycorrhizal Planet abounds with insights into “fungal consciousness” and offers practical, regenerative techniques that are pertinent to gardeners, landscapers, orchardists, foresters, and farmers. Michael’s fungal acumen will resonate with everyone who is fascinated with the unseen workings of nature and concerned about maintaining and restoring the health of our soils, our climate, and the quality of life on Earth for generations to come.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781603586580
Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing
Publication date: 02/28/2017
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 318,987
Product dimensions: 8.10(w) x 10.10(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Michael Phillips is a farmer, writer, carpenter, orchard consultant, and speaker who lives with his wife, Nancy, and daughter, Grace, on Heartsong Farm in northern New Hampshire, where they grow apples and a variety of medicinal herbs. Michael is the author of The Apple Grower (Chelsea Green, 2005) and The Holistic Orchard (2011), and teamed up with Nancy to write The Herbalist's Way (2005). His Lost Nation Orchard is part of the Holistic Orchard Network, and Michael also leads the community orchard movement at

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction: Fungal Consciousness 1

Chapter 1 Mycorrhizal Ascendancy 5

Mycorrhizal Types 8

Fungal Adaptability 14

Propagules 19

Nutrient Dynamics 22

Hyphal Lysis 25

Chapter 2 Healthy Plant Metabolism 27

Phytochemical Progression 28

Natural Plant Defenses 41

Plant Metabolites and Human Health 47

Chapter 3 Underground Economy 49

Dancing in the Street 50

Mycorrhizal Networks 55

Innate Intelligence 58

Nondisturbance Principle 63

Chapter 4 Provisioning the Mycorrhizosphere 69

The Glomalin Connection 70

Fungal Foods 72

Mineral Investment 81

Moisture for Every Plant 87

Chapter 5 Fungal Accrual 89

Inoculum Nuance 89

Carbon Pathways 99

Hugelkultur 104

Biochar 107

Phosphorus Addendum 109

Chapter 6 Practical Nondisturbance Techniques 111

Garden 111

Landscape 130

Orchard 140

Forest 158

Farm 169

Chapter 7 Edible Mycorrhizal Mushrooms 183

Chapter 8 Soil Redemption Song 195

Soil Health Resources 201

Notes 203

Glossary 227

Bibliography 231

Index 233

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