The main aspect of fungi that we want to utilise in the garden, is the symbiotic relationship that plants have with fungi. Over 90% of all plant species engage in mycorrhizal relationships with fungi.
This relationship includes:
- intra/extra-cellular nutrient exchange
- nutrient exchange between different plants through the fungal network
- mechanisms of increased nutrient absorption (chemical and physical)
- increased disease and pest/herbivore resistance
- improving soil structure
- enhanced resistance to drought, environmental stress
- breaking down lignin in dead organic matter to create humus
- consuming carbohydrates and returning minerals and acids
Two major types of mycorrhiza occur in Nature - endomycorrhiza (common in more than 80 % of terrestrial plant species) and ectomycorrhiza (specific to conifers and some broadleaved woody species).
Endomycorrhizal fungi develop mainly microscopic spores in the soil whereas most of ectomycorrhizal fungal symbionts develop aboveground fruit bodies.
An endomycorrhizal fungus forms hyphae that penetrate the cells of plant roots where they form balloon-like vesicles and branch out manifold to develop big surface areas dedicated to the exchange of minerals and carbohydrates.
Ectomycorrhizal fungi form a symbiotic relationship with a plant forming a sheath around the root tip of the plant. Ectomycorrhizal relationships are common in our forests. Most trees will only form one type of mycorrhizal relationship with fungal partners.
Paul Stamets has been a dedicated mycologist for over thirty years. Over this time, he has discovered and coauthored four new species of mushrooms, and pioneered countless techniques in the field of edible and medicinal mushroom cultivation.
He has written six books on mushroom cultivation, use and identification; his books Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms and The Mushroom Cultivator (coauthor) have long been hailed as the definitive texts of mushroom cultivation. Other works by Paul Stamets include Psilocybe Mushrooms and Their Allies (out of print), Psilocybin Mushrooms of the World, MycoMedicinals®: an Informational Treatise on Mushrooms, and many articles and scholarly papers. His newest book is Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save The World. Video-- Paul Stamets -- Mushrooms as planetary healers Mushroom cultivation, Mycoremediation, the importance of the fungal genome, the old growth forests, the use of fungi in early Europe, and now the re-discovery of these fungi in helping preserve, repair and balance ecosystems.
There are also many health benefits from mushrooms
Here's some other interesting video's relating to psychedelic mushrooms -
THE MUSHROOM SPEAKS
by Terence McKennaI am old, older than thought in your species, which is itself fifty times older than your history. Though I have been on earth for ages I am from the stars. My home is no one planet, for many worlds scattered through the shining disc of the galaxy have conditions which allow my spores an opportunity for life. The mushroom which you see is the part of my body given to sex thrills and sun bathing, my true body is a fine network of fibers growing through the soil. These networks may cover acres and may have far more connections than the number in a human brain.
My mycelial network is nearly immortal--only the sudden toxification of a planet or the explosion of it's parent star can wipe me out. By means impossible to explain because of certain misconceptions in your model of reality all my mycelial networks in the galaxy are in hyperlight communication through space and time.
The mycelial body is as fragile as a spider's web but the collective hypermind and memory is a vast historical archive of the career of evolving intelligence on many worlds in our spiral star swarm. Space, you see, is a vast ocean to those hardy life forms that have the ability to reproduce from spores, for spores are covered with the hardest organic substance known.
Across the aeons of time and space drift many spore forming life-forms in suspended animation for millions of years until contact is made with a suitable environment. Few such species are minded, only myself and my recently evolved near relatives have achieved the hyper-communication mode and memory capacity that makes us leading members in the community of galactic intelligence. How the hyper-communication mode operates is a secret which will not be lightly given to humans.
But the means should be obvious: it is the occurence of psilocybin and psilocin in the biosynthetic pathways of my living body that opens for me and my symbiots the vision screens to many worlds. You as an individual and Homo sapiens as a species are on the brink of the formation of a symbiotic relationship with my genetic material that will eventually carry humanity and earth into the galactic mainstream of the higher civilizations.
Since it is not easy for you to recognize other varieties of intelligence around you, your most advanced theories of politics and society have advanced only as far as the notion of collectivism. But beyond the cohesion of the members of a species into a single social organism there lie richer and even more baroque evolutionary possibilities. Symbiosis is one of these. Symbiosis is a relation of mutual dependence and positive benifits for both species involved.
Symbiotic relationships between myself and civilized forms of higher animals have been established many times and in many places throughout the long ages of my development. These relationships have been mutually useful; within my memory is the knowledge of hyperlight drive ships and how to build them. I will trade this knowledge for a free ticket to new worlds around suns younger and more stable than your own.
To secure an eternal existence down the long river of cosmic time, I again and again offer this agreement to higher beings and thereby have spread throughout the galaxy over the long millenia.
A mycelial network has no organs to move the world, no hands; but higher animals with manipulative abilities can become partners with the star knowledge within me and if they act in good faith, return both themselves and their humble mushroom teacher to the million worlds to which all citizens of our starswarm are heir.
-- Taken from Psilocybin: The Magic Mushroom Growers Guide