Saturday, March 04, 2017

Sheep's Fescue, Forsooth!

I seem to have gotten lost in the ivory tower, can't find my way back to the Applied Linguistics department, (which is fine, as it goes), and have stumbled into the outer fringes of soil science and horticulture. I could do with a BSc in botany or bio-chemistry, but I've left that a bit late in life, so I'm going to have to catch up as best as I can, extra mural, Jude the Obscure.

A 2nd hand copy of Fitzpatrick arrived in the post today, and I've started reading that. Also today, I looked into the question buzzing around in my head since I saw an episode of Gardeners' World last year, about plantain fostering mycorrhiza. I managed to get in touch with @zephaniahlindo from Gardeners' World and he gave me the Francis et al reference.

That was interesting. Long story short, Plantago lanceolata and Festuca ovina can help link mycorrhiza to other plants, thereby increasing said other plants uptake of (P)hosphorus and (N)itrogen. F ovina is sheep's fescue, a grass, and was the most efficient donor, according to Francis. Which suggests the counter-intuitive, not to say mind-boggling, idea of planting grass with, say, my turnips. 

And then I looked on the Cited By link to Francis, and realised I would have been quite content to spend several hours there with the 47 citations, had I had several hours to spare.

All of which suggests I'm utterly hooked by the allotment, body and mind. But try introducing the topic of hyphal nutrient bridges into a conversation in our house, and you'll be looked at askance.

FitzPatrick, E.A., 1986. An introduction to soil science (No. Second Edition). Longman Scientific & Technical Group UK.

FRANCIS, R., FINLAY, R. D. and READ, D. J. (1986), VESICULAR–ARBUSCULAR MYCORRHIZA IN NATURAL VEGETATION SYSTEMS. New Phytologist, 102: 103–111. doi:10.1111/j.1469-8137.1986.tb00802.x and