Summer has come and gone and the July newsletter never even happened… But today I am back and very happy to announce that mycorrhizal fungi are once again back on the Pantry shelf. After much searching for an alternative to imported products, I have now switched to a large Canadian supplier who makes a decent inoculum at a comparable price.

The new “endo” appears more expensive, but it has a very high concentration of spores per gram. Therefore, you need much less (only a third to a quarter compared to the previous endo product) to inoculate the same number of plants or area of lawn. I am offering smaller packages as well to accommodate the needs of home scale gardeners. The new “endo/ecto” is less concentrated but has a good diversity of mycorrhizal species. You only need those extra species for conifers, and some woody plants, but not for grasses or most garden plants, which are usually happy with just endomycorrhizal fungi.

Fall is a good time to apply mycorrhizal inoculants as plants put on root mass before winter. Spring is the next best time; the soil should begin to warm up. Please see the Pantry web site for lots of details (thank you Phil!), and e-mail me with any questions at all.

While pruning my raspberry canes under the blue and gold October sky yesterday, I found time to reflect with gratitude on the summer just passed. Those raspberries for example bore a bumper crop – regular applications of sea minerals and kelp, by way of rinsing out empty containers after bottling, helped create an abundance of berries of superior size and taste. The pear tree had fewer fruit than in previous years – the weather was cold and wet at the time of flowering – but those pears that did make it grew large and  sweet. The apples did well, as did the blueberries, strawberries, and salad greens, while the grapes are, sadly, sulking – they have not forgiven the damp September weeks when they wanted sun, but got fog… next year, more compost tea for them!

A small flock of chickens have taken up residence under the grape arbour. They provide ample entertainment, lay eggs when they feel like, and in the future, will contribute wonderful manure for the veggie garden (with a two-year detour through the EM-enhanced compost bin). The girls were delighted when I clued in and built them a sandbox – then with the onset of wet weather, said sandbox began to emit decidedly foul odours in spite of daily pick-up of droppings. Turns out the run is not draining well due to the underlaying concrete slab. Activated EM to the rescue! It usually takes two applications once a month (a couple days apart) of a 1:50 dilution sprayed on the sand and straw, and the odour is gone.

I gave boulevard gardening a valiant one-year trial; but this summer had to admit defeat by the large sycamore maple (Acer pseudoplatanus), whose greedy roots hijacked that mounded bed completely. Not even the grass wanted to grow back, once I had leveled and re-seeded the area. It took a lot of “tlc” and several doses of liquid kelp until it finally germinated. Lesson learned – some tree roots are very allelopathic indeed.

Soon I will rake up all those leaves from my street tree though (and the neighbours will grin as I raid their leaf piles too!) for a yummy deep leaf mulch on all my garden beds, so that Nature’s slow-food delivery service can once again replenish the earth for another season. I just love sitting back and watching that happening.

Thank You for your support, and Happy Fall Gardening!
I’ll be in touch soon, reporting from a three day soil biology workshop put on by Soil Food Web Canada.