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Cultivating Knowledge

Gardening in a Drought

Master the art of gardening during the drought, with the help of friendly microorganisms: mycorrhizal fungi.

After Governor Jerry Brown issued the urgent executive order that mandates a 25% water use reduction across the state of California, greatly affecting everyone from major food producers to home gardeners, Californians are wondering how to save water and still enjoy that juicy Summer tomato. The use of mycorrhizal fungi as part of biotechnology in organic gardening, might be the best way for California gardeners to pull together to conserve water.

Something old has become the new solution to grow a beautiful garden with less water. A little known secret is the natural and living microorganisms called mycorrhizal fungi. This fungi has been around for over 450 million years in uncorrupted, virgin soils. Only recently has this type of biological products become available in a consumer friendly form and it is revolutionizing the world of organic gardening. The fungal body (hyphae) doesn’t grow like a mushroom, but as an entire network of microscopic “straw-like” tubes that help draw in extra moisture in a “sponge-like” mass around the root zone. Mycorrhizae is the symbiotic association formed by this fungi with most plants that can actually increase and extend the root surface up to 8 times beyond that of an untreated plant which can reduce irrigation frequency yet maintain yields.

Mycorrhizae can provide many different benefits to your plants beyond saving water. The body of these fungi (hyphae) produce glomalin which substantially improve soil structure, binding together sandy soil and improving clay soil while increasing nutrient and moisture retention. Mycorrhizal fungi are invaluable microorganisms that live in your soil in harmony with your plant’s roots forming a symbiotic relationship were they exchange nutrients for carbohydrates from the roots. Mycorrhizae can also help plants grow more vigorously to better resist attacks from insects and diseases. Studies show that tomatoes grown with mycorrhizal fungi have higher levels of sugars, flavonoids and antioxidants producing nutrient rich fruits, herbs and vegetables. Apply mycorrhizal fungi to the roots at the time of transplanting or cultivate into the top few inches of soil around the drip line for established plants.

MYKOS™ is produced here in the US by Reforestation Technologies International (RTI), one of the nation’s oldest and largest producers of mycorrhizal fungi. RTI has used their unique biological solutions to successfully restore plant growth and health in reclamation projects, highway erosion, and many environmentally sensitive applications throughout North America and Europe. MYKOS™ has helped obtain 7 Guinness World Records for Giant Pumpkin growers as well as other giant fruit and vegetable competitors.

During this unprecedented drought, mycorrhizae can be one more tool to help gardeners keep their green thumbs in an otherwise brown landscape.

For more information and helpful tips please visit:,,

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