This fallen log on the Wildside Garden’s eastern slope is there for a purpose. Good fungus! Sue Bridge has been working with Jono Neiger and the Regenerative Design Group to create a sustainable, edible, permaculture garden. One of the things she learned is that the food chain in her garden doesn’t begin with the vegetables and fruits and end with her. The edibility of her garden includes the fungal growth in a healthy, fertile soil. The life in healthy soil is fungal, not bacterial and should be supported.
Like all organic gardeners I am always talking feeding the soil, n0t the plant. When I say this I am usually talking about adding slow release organic fertilizers to the soil like greensand, lime, cottonseed meal, compost to provide the nutritional elements for plants without killing the microbial life in the soil. In a permaculture garden the support for that fungal growth can be provided by fallen logs, just as it would be in the forest.
Sometimes the practice of permaculture is referred to as a forest garden. This confused me. How could we have a garden in the forest? The term forest garden is somewhat metaphorical. The point is to recreate the kind of layering that you find in a healthy forest with trees, like nut and fruit trees, providing the tallest layer, berry bushes providing the middle layer, and vegetables, herbs and other edibles, including weeds, providing the lowest layer. Permaculture does not demand that these three layers necessarily exist in the very same space. but it may be practical to have them overlap in some areas.
The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service has an excellent, readable site explaining the types of soil fungi, and what they do here. Perhaps you have seen fertilizers at the garden center that include mycorrhizal fungi to help roots make use of nutrients in the soil. Maybe we can do this job by leaving some rotting tree limbs in our garden. I want all the good fungus in my garden I can get.