Symbiosis between plants and soil microorganisms are the most essential process that happens in biological development. Without it plants won’t grow. There are tons of biological words associated with this process that can be confusing and frustrating for those who want to garden, but some of it is important. I will try to put it in terms that make sense, and not complicate the issue.
More than 75% of all plants benefit from associations of fungi and the roots. This all happens in the soil organic matter and is extremely important for proper plant function. In our well drained, dry soil, it constitutes less then 1%! It is important to make sure that there is plenty of organic matter for soil decomposers to use in the soil for healthy plant growth. that serve as food for the decomposers like earthworms, saprophytes and other beneficial soil organisms that in turn improve the root’s absorption nutrients, that the plants provide carbon forming compounds .
Earthworms also contribute heavily to soil fertility. They are visible and live near the soil surface feeding on plant residue and move about improving soil structure. They release beneficial waste known as worm castings. These castings are made up of high plant nutrients, such as phosphates, potassium, nitrate nitrogen, and exchangeable calcium along with magnesium. These are the nutrients young plants love and will help improve crop yields.
Earthworms are also known as soil saprophytes along with many other soil organisms that aren’t visible to the naked eye. They all act as soil recyclers, feeding on decaying plant residue and produce into beneficial products like nutrients and humus. This makes it available for the plant to absorb and use. This is why composting is important and is really beneficial to crops and plants. Having these nutrients, provide many benefits and will also bring beneficial insects to your garden.
Other groups that are helpful to know about are soil bacteria, and fungi that are also included in the soil saprophyte family. They have important roles of not only of producing soil residue for the plants but also produce a slow-release fertilizer in a simpler mineral forms. This provides a continuous supply of inorganic nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfur and other nutrients for the plants. This provides continued maintenance of soil fertility and root development.
Consider adding to the organic matter to the soil and increase the amount of saprophytes that visit. Your garden will love you and will give you great benefits in the future. Having a strong presence of organic matter will help your plants become strong and create a sustainable garden year round without adding synthetic fertilizers!