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Beneficial Fungus
September 29, 2014

What a glorious stretch of early fall weather we are experiencing.

I haven't seen a hummer for the past few days.

Feeders remain up and filled, just in case.

You have until Saturday to give me your favorite thing(s) about Fall.

Your name and location are needed, last name optional.

ArtPrize fills downtown Grand Rapids for the next couple of weeks.

Karen and I will venture down once or twice if we can.

Every so often, God chooses to bless me when I least expect it.

Not all blessings are on a grand scale.

In fact, often it is the little things that make a day.

This past week, I walked to the woods to get some pictures of mushrooms for today's letter.

Looking down as I walked a trail was this baby snapping turtle.

Still covered in sand from hatching and digging out of the sand.

I have never, ever, seen a brand new baby turtle of any kind before in my life.

How odd it was for turtles to be hatching this late in the season, I thought.

It could have been a late nest.

More than likely because we had a mild summer (heat wise).

If the ground doesn't heat up, eggs are going to be slow to incubate.

(Some years the eggs will hatch the following spring). Snappers are created with this big head and thick neck, they can't retract their head like other turtles can.

This is quite obvious, even with a new baby.

(Other pictures at the bottom of letter.)

After a couple of pictures, I walked the 50 yards or so to the creek (where it was headed), at dropped it in.

With a huge smile on my face, I said thank you very much, enjoyed the blessing and the rest of the day was a joy.

With that, enjoy the pictures of some shrooms, and a bit on fungus you may not know about.

I know I didn't.


Natural habitats are primarily defined in terms of plants and animals.

The two kingdoms of life we can see with unaided eyes.

However, the greatest diversity of species, come from, protozoa, algae, bacteria, and fungus.

A vast majority you and I can't see.

Unless you have certain phobias, it is "out of site, and out of mind " when it comes to microbes and such.

Yet, they permeate the soils and fill the water and air.

They thrive on the surface of every living thing, as well as within them as well.

Yes, you are filled with bacteria (most of it good).

You and I breathe in untold amounts of bacteria and fungal spores.

You are still here to read about it too.

So why the over kill with antibacterial soaps and such?

Getting dirty, and yes eating dirt, is actually healthy for you.

Most bacteria and fungus are healthy for you gardens as well.

I'm no 'Euell Gibbons', I have no clue what mushroom is tasty, and which ones you do you harm, (even kill you).

I know the bad ones out number the tasty ones, however.

That said.........

The public is slowly learning, as we learn more on the positive roles microorganisms play.

(God continues to amaze me.)

Including how some types can increase plant growth and increase yields.

Both in Nature, and your various gardens.

The extraordinary fungi that interact with woodlands, open prairies, higher latitudes and above mountainous tree lines.

As the saying goes 'The Fungus Among Us'.

Mushrooms are merely the temporary structure some fungi grow to produce spores ( sort of a bloom for fungi).

The main body of fungus typically consists of a network of fine branching threads, known as"hyphae."

You may sometimes see them massed together on a decomposing logs, you may also have come across a webbed mess while digging in your garden.

Now you know, it is probably a fungal mass.

This fungal network, or mass of hyphae is called "Mycelium".

For many years, the largest fungus known to man grew in the upper peninsula of Michigan (still living and growing).

Now, the largest fungus is believed to reside in the Blue Mountains, of Oregon.

Spread across four square miles, and weighing several hundred tons.

DNA samples have shown it to be one in the same.

I digress.

Most Mycelia are small and as common as the dirt you grow in.

Estimates for the number of fungal species run in the millions.

It has been discovered that of these millions of species, they are divided into two groups.

Those in which the fungus remains outside the roots (ectomycorrhizal fungi).

Those that actually penetrate the root cells (endomycorrhizal fungi).

I know, it is a lot to understand, and I'm simply passing it onto you.

The outcome in both cases is a continual exchange of goods.

A subterranean symbiotic relationship.

10 to 20 percent of the sugars produced through photosynthesis are absorbed by the fungi.

In return, the fungus delivers many essential nutrients to the plant.

The host plants increase drought resistance., due to what can be called an auxiliary root system produced by the fungus "hyphae".

Hundreds to even 2,500 hundred times greater than what a plant could ever row alone.

Plants grow stronger and produce more blooms and crops.

Stripping the land and excessive digging and tilling kills off the fragile balance that exists.

Though you and I may think of fungi being home in dark, damp places, or the powdery mildew and blackspot in our gardens, it grows virtually everywhere.

An important step to ensure that the mycorrhizal fungi survive through winter and early spring.

In a completely harvested garden or flowerbed with all plants removed, fungal numbers will decline.

Plant a living or green mulch like rye or hairy vetch, or allow your
healthy plant material (not diseased) and mulch with leaves to feed the fungi when gardens are dormant above the surface.

Beds of perennials should remain healthy, but a good layer of mulch or compost always helps.

Science continues to grow and learn.

I just thought you might want to know this

Well, it is time to fly for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

God Bless.

"Some people say that dreaming gets you nowhere in life. But I say you can't get anywhere in life without dreaming."

Rose Zadra

We need dreams and desires of our heart.

Without dreams and desires, what are we?

"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life."

Proverbs 13:12

"Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart."

Psalm 37:7

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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