A Quick Look Below The Surface Of The Forest Floor

Hello friends! Tonight’s feature image is titled “Bracken Fern 011120” and is available for purchase by the instructions at the bottom of the article.

The cool damp air is thick with the scent of the moss as I approach the the steep hillside. I have come to this spot on the edge of my property to look for signs of the seasonal progression. A leaf that seems pushed up a little or a mushroom starting to form.

The ground here is almost vertical. In fact it’s so steep that have been tempted to carve a set of stairs directly into the earth to allow for better access to the little bench above. The soil depth is almost nonexistent in this spot. Just below the moss is mineral earth. There’s no duff because the steep ground allows the rainwater to run down and carry the soil nutrients with it. But the moss seems to require very little from the soil. I have recently learned that science is interested in how this works and has found that there’s a special relationship between the moss and bacteria that might be feeding it. The nuts and bolts of how this happening is a little beyond my ability to go into but it allows the moss to colonize places where other plants can’t go. The moss builds a thick layer and the ferns come. They colonize the moss and I’m willing to bet that they are also being fed by the same bacteria. At some point there’s a fungal mat that connects it all together and allows the plants to actually communicate chemically. The really amazing thing is that the cutting edge research is said to indicate that the connections allow this team of colonists to co-opt disease causing bactira and force them to work to the benefit of the plants. The researchers also say that when artificial fertilizer is introduced into the system that this delicate balance is disrupted and the disease causing bactira is no longer able to be co-opted by the colony and goes back to being a disease. The implications are that the very thing we have been taught to do to make crops healthy could be causing crops to fail. I have to do more research on the subject and I’ve given a very simplified version of the story. But if it’s something that you’re interested in my source is The Regenerative Agriculture Podcast.

But here in the forest everything seems to be working the way it did when God set the world in motion. The bacteria, moss, fungus and ferns along with other plants are turning bare ground into rich forests. It seems to happening fairly quickly too. I stripped this very spot a couple years ago when I needed the moss for a project. Now I can barely tell that the cycle had ever been disturbed.

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