loligo: cheering crayfish! (crayfish)
[personal profile] loligo posting in [community profile] permaculture
Have any of you ever grown edible mushrooms on logs or mulch? If so, I would love to hear about your experiences! I've just started this experiment myself.

Last spring we had a terrifying, destructive storm in our region that brought down huge trees everywhere, including in my yard. I had fantasies of growing all kinds of mushrooms on the resulting logs, but it took us so long just to clear the debris (with two little kids under foot all the time) that we just didn't have the energy to deal with it until the wood had already been sitting around dead for too long. But there was one alder growing near our mini swamp that only came halfway down. It clung to life for another year and a half, but finally crashed down all the way just recently, so I was *not* going to miss this chance.

I ordered thimble spawn of Double Jewel shiitake from Field & Forest Products. Not that many places seem to offer spawn in thimble form -- it's sawdust and spawn formed into a plug and capped with a thin layer of styrofoam, eliminating the necessity for melted wax to seal each plug. Yeah, not as sustainable as wax, but given that the aforementioned little kids were going to be helping with this project, I wanted to keep scalding wax out of it if possible.

We drilled and plugged three big logs today, and we've only used about a quarter of the sheet of plugs. This is going to be a bigger project than I realized!

For fun, I also ordered some Wine Cap Stropharia spawn, which can be grown on straw or wood chip mulch. I made a bed of straw for it at the foot of my magnolia tree. Supposedly after the fruiting is spent, you can move shovelfulls of the bed around to new spots and colonize your whole garden. I've never seen these offered in stores, so I have no idea if the taste is all that great, but the idea is fun, anyway.

I'll let you all know how things go!

(no subject)

Date: 2010-10-11 03:42 am (UTC)
7veils: (Default)
From: [personal profile] 7veils
I've never actually tried growing them, but until last winter I lived in an area where we could just walk in the woods behind our house and pick as many morels, bolets, lobster and pine mushrooms as we liked. So there was never any need.

Now that I live in the city, my garden is in a yard which was conditioned with manure and compost from a mushroom-grower's barn. We get the odd feral crop, but they are the ordinary sort that you pick up in most grocery stores, nothing like the tasty ones we could find with a bit of woodcrafting.

I'm interested to hear how the project goes, and especially what your kids make of it. Good luck!

(no subject)

Date: 2010-10-11 06:00 pm (UTC)
7veils: (Default)
From: [personal profile] 7veils
*nods* Cross-contamination is important to understand. There weren't many patches of poison ivy, oak or hemlock near our lot, but bracken would spring up in the rills.

Morels are tricky to find. The ones I've come across were always in hot, clay soil with good drainage and a covering of well-rotted sumac leaves or cedar leaves — under the southern face of a rock wall or stack of timbers, for example, literally in that sawdust mess left behind by carpenter ants. I've heard they are notoriously difficult to cultivate, and although I followed my naturalist brother-in-law's suggestion to cull only half the crop and try to 'smoosh' some of the remaining mushrooms back into the ground in order to spread their spores (something I do with all the mushroom woodcrafting, btw), there wasn't a sign of new ones in that spot when I returned the next year. I suspect that there's an alchemy of weather, pH and soil consistency conditions that factors into their growth, and they only seem to come up at a specific time in the year (autumn in my case.) So if a person misses the week or so when they are out, then it's probably like a run of salmon, it could be hopeless for that year.

That was certainly the case for the lobster mushrooms, which sprouted up from a well-shaded carpet of forest duff which was mostly created by fallen larch needles, or the cauliflower mushrooms which seemed to like being planted near pine trees (like the pine mushrooms.)

Western puffballs came out throughout the summer and autumn, though, so it isn't always the case, but it may be that the spore remain dormant until the conditions are just right. That may be why your supplier wasn't too concerned about innoculating the logs in the fall. After all, if crops of mushrooms come out in the fall as part of the natural cycle, then that's when their spores would be released anyway.


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Permaculture: Food From Sustainable Landscapes

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