Re: [tomato] mycorrhizal Fungi

Thomas Giannou (
Sun, 18 Apr 1999 14:45:52 -0700

Dear Pete,

I just wrote a long post that will give you insight into some other things
that happen with plants treated with VAM fungi.  It isn't just an issue of
giving more fertilizer to a plant to compensate.  It's been my experience
that the cultural methods of using chemical fertilizers simply can not
produce the benefits in plants as may happen with VAM fungi.

I'm going up to my brother's today to take pictures of some tulips.  We had
treated his lawn last fall with VAM fungi.  Tulips have come up that were
under his lawn that he had not seen in years.  The same variety of tulip was
over in a flower bed, but had not been inoculated with the VAM fungi.  The
tulips that came up in his lawn were from a long forgotten bed that was
there years ago.  The blooms are about twice as large and we noticed leaves
that were about 5-6" wide on those tulips.  I've never seen tulips like that
before.  It's been my experience... and it always surprises me... that
plants treated with VAM fungi are larger, healthier, produce more, mature
earlier, are longer lasting, have reduced transplant shock, have better
water retention, have higher disease resistance, are left alone by most
insects, and produce abundantly and taste better than any plant I have ever
tasted which was grown using chemical fertilizers.

Here's another feature I attribute to VAM fungi... a customer had a 13,000
square foot lawn and mowed it once per week and was getting 20 lawnmower
catcher bags of grass with each mowing.  That dropped to 4 catcher bags of
grass after we treated his lawn with VAM fungi.  That freed up a lot of time
on the weekends for that particular customer.  I don't have a lawn that
large, but I was getting around 8 catcher bags of grass and now I get about
1/2 to 1 catcher bag of grass.

Another feature I like in the lawn and the garden is that many weeds are not
mycorrhizal.  When the fungi saturate the soil around their host plant with
their hyphe, my theory is they steal away the nutrients in the water so that
the weeds can not get what they need.  It's strictly a situation of
competition.   Dandilions are not growing in my lawn nor around my Raspberry
plants.  Many other weeds... but not all, have simply dissapeared.  They
can't compete.  I found only four dandilions in my VAM treated lawn last

Another feature I like in the lawn and garden is an explosion in earthworm
populations.  The root biomass of the lawn goes down 17 inches or more and
the garden plants treated with VAM fungi all have much larger root systems.
The worms seem to really flourish in that environment.  There is also a
fertilizer effect from all those worm castings.  They eat up most of the
mulch.  When I get grass clippings, I put them in the garden and the worms
eat them up and leave behind excellent nitrogen fertilizer.

With the reduction in grass clippings and the reduction in weeds, and a
significantly higher level of health in all of my plants, I have never had
so much fun in the past 50 years as this last year with gardening.  Use of
VAM fungi has just freed up a lot of time and effort and allowed me to take
that time and effort and focus it much better.

I got a call from a fellow in Los Vegas a couple of days ago about rock
dust.  His company makes rock dust in Los Angeles.  It's just powdered
volcanic rock.  They add about 80 pounds per acre for tomatoes and it brings
in lots of trace elements not generally found in the fertilizers.  He's
going to send me 50 pounds of that stuff and wants me to test it out.  If
anyone would like some, let me know and I'll gladly share it with you... for
just the cost of shipping it.  One pound would do all of my garden and all
of my lawn.  VAM fungi is very adept at finding and bringing minerals into
their host plants.  It might be interesting to see how well that rock dust
works with VAM fungi and our organic fertilizer and well aged compost with
tomato plants.... it's still too early to plant outside here in Spokane... I
envy all you who have tomatoes producing right now.

Best Regards,
Thomas Giannou
Spokane, Washington

-----Original Message-----
From: Orchid <>
To: <>
Date: Sunday, April 18, 1999 7:28 AM
Subject: RE: [tomato] mycorrhizal Fungi

>So I can assume, once colonized with Vam, it should always be given low P.
>That can be a minus if you use different methods.  If you shouldn't go over
>2% P, and Vam increases uptake by X4, then giving 2% is like giving a P of
>8.  So my question is, what is the difference between using Vam Fungi with
>low P, and traditional methods using higher P?  Is the results going to be
>better than giving tomato a fertilizer with 8 or 10 Phos.?
>Peter, South Florida, Zone 10
>-----Original Message-----
>From: []
>On Behalf Of Thomas Giannou
>Sent: Sunday, April 18, 1999 10:58 AM
>Subject: Re: [tomato] mycorrhizal Fungi
>Dear Chuck,
>It all depends upon when one puts VAM fungi on the plant and when one puts
>the fertilizer on the plant.  If a high phosphorus fertilizer and VAM fungi
>inoculant are added at the same time, the high phosphorus (any P above 2%)
>will prevent the VAM fungi from connecting up with the plant and in this
>case, the plant will not be burned.
>If the VAM fungi is colonized into the root system, and a high P fertilizer
>is added, then there is a high probability one can kiss that plant goodby
>less than a week.  VAM fungi can bring phosphorus into a plant at levels 4
>times higher than the root system of a plant that is not colonized with VAM
>The best sources of P for plants treated with VAM fungi are not
>superphosphate fertilizers, but are fertilizers where P is in complex forms
>or in rock phosphate form.  Those forms generally require microbial action
>in order to free up the phosphorous.
>The above points of view are generally supported by what is said in a book
>titled, "Mycorrhizal Symbiosis" second edition, by S.E. Smith and D.J.
>There always seem to be exceptions even to what the experts say about these
>things...  I had an e-mail from a Rosarian in the Seattle area in which the
>person stated they put VAM fungi and superphosphate on roses at the same
>time, as was their habit with the phosphate fertilizer and burned up a
>of expensive roses they had imported from Canada.  The vendor of the VAM
>fungi did not provide any information regarding staying away from high P
>fertilizers.  So now, that Rosarian is telling everyone not to use VAM
>fungi.  It appears the text book definition above needs work by what this
>particular Rosarian experienced.
>When I started into the business of selling VAM fungi, I did a fair amount
>of research on the subject and noticed that most of the Vendors in the
>market place at the time (last year) were not saying much of anything about
>this particular problem.  Some were even saying that it was okay to use
>chicken manure with their products.  IT IS NOT OKAY!  Chicken manure and
>Guano are way too high in P and will burn up plants treated with VAM fungi.
>Age doesn't make much difference.
>We have had to develop our own literature for the retail market place and
>always make it a point to tell people about the problem with high P
>There are also other substances that will affect VAM fungi in negative
>Certain, but not all, fungicides and systemics may kill VAM fungi and thus
>remove the benefits of their working with the plant.  We publish a list of
>precautions that we give to our customers about these particular issues as
>information on the label of our product (BioVam).  One can only hope people
>will read the label information so they don't make mistakes.
>Switching, now, to being just another ordinary gardener....  I, like most
>the people in the public, hardly ever read labels on products... because in
>the past the traditions that generally work are:  put some fertilizer at
>moderate levels in the hole when one plants along with aged compost.  That
>won't work if one is using VAM fungi.  Tradition also says, put some 5-10-5
>on the tomatoes or 10-10-10 on the Raspberries.   And like you stated, it
>will burn the plants up.  I tried some 8-5-1 or 8-5-3 fish pellets as side
>dressing around some Raspberry plants which had been treated with VAM fungi
>and were colonized very well and lost a few plants as a result.  All of the
>plants I applied the fish pellets to were burned in their lower leaves.
>That surprised me because that fertilizer was supposed to be Organic.  So,
>it seems prudent to me, that if one uses a fertilizer with a P above 2% on
>plants treated with VAM fungi... do a test first on one or two plants for
>least two weeks before putting the fertilizer on the rest of the plants.
>That way, adverse situations can be avoided.
>Thomas Giannou
>Spokane, Washington
>-----Original Message-----
>From: ChuckWyatt/Md/Z7 <>
>To: <>
>Date: Sunday, April 18, 1999 3:58 AM
>Subject: Re: [tomato] mycorrhizal Fungi
>>>>In particular, vascular-arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (VAMF)
>>increase yield in peppers grown in low-phosphorous or low-moisture
>> The key phrase here is "low phosphorous" as well as the combining pepper
>>culture with that of tomatoes.  While peppers and eggplant are in the same
>>general family, there is danger in grouping their culture.  The most
>>way to get the best in production from tomatoes is to use a high
>>phosphorous, low nitrogen fertilizer. 5-10-5 seems to be the most popular.
>>Even the VAMF sellers say it should not be used in conjunction with the
>>high phosphorous fertilizers such as 5-10-5 that are normally used with
>>tomatoes.  Hi Phos. fertilizers and VAMV combined may very well burn the
>>roots off your new transplants.
>>Good gardening,
>>Chuck Wyatt