Oysters grow on many substrates. We use sterile grain jars to maintain and transfer spawn. We grow oyster mushroom on straw mostly. Cheap and easy and local. We also like alternating fresh coffee grounds with hydrated cardboard and a high spawn rate in buckets with holes. Some people use hardwood fire pellets. Agricultural waste produce are used worldwide. Oysters grow on almost anything.
Shaggy mane are delicious. They should be great in your area. Should also be wild. They are often in disturbed areas and in lawns.They are very watery, so need lots of cooking to evaporate the liquid, but are the best in cream of mushroom soup or in stroganoff. We also failed to get blewits to grow from spawn.
Love to see some pics Steve. Here are a few from our garden last summer. Wine caps are pretty sneaky, found them a long ways from where they were "planted", but we have wood chip paths and mulch almost everywhere and now all mulch is inoculated with wine cap spawn (just add in the well run wood chips). Also phot of the oyster added to the straw mulch in garden beds and the shaggy manes in the compost that pop up every fall when the temps drop and the rain comes.
Wolf spiders can be effective predators of anything they can catch including my honeybees but there are other common spiders that seem to specialize in eating their arachnid kindred. I have issues with spiders and sharing space with them but when living years ago in a decrepit farm house on the Colorado front range infested with black widows and occasional brown recluse, I came to tolerate the Skytode genus or ‘spitting spiders’. I am not sure which species we had but we nicknamed them the “whirling dervish spider” for the habit of spinning wildly in the small webs they made when alarmed. Our population flourished from good habitat and tolerance but apparently others take this relationship to a more active level as the video shows. A few of the gang followed us up to the Great North, probably on furniture but the population gradually disappeared. The video also shows how they managed to subdue much larger spiders, which was always a mystery at the time we shared space with them.
Oh yes tons of rhubarb. Yes, jerusalem artichokes, also fuki. Also Chinese artichokes. Gaint bluebells (flowers and leaves are tasty). And yes garlic, best results with Siberian. I also forgot Evans Bali cherry, nanny berry, hawthorn, hascap, and herbs and medicinals. Mushrooms. Lots of wine caps throughout the garden.
You are correct, still zone 3/4. We are about 800 ft above sea level so we are a bit colder and wetter than down the hill.
On our 1 acre homestead, red and black currants are the bumper, reliable fruits. Gooseberries. Apples. Service berries. Aronia. Mtn ash. Sea buckthorn. Raspberries. Nangoon berries. Strawberries. For greens, good King henry and Turkish rocket are super productive. Horseradish. Welch onions and Egyptian walking onions. Calorie crops are still potatoes, carrots, cabbage, of course.
Along with many others, I'm very interested in nut trees that can produce in the Far North. Hazelberts are growing, but not yet producing any nuts. We don't know if they will be able to in the short season. But as the climate changes, who knows what will work or not. Korean pines are started, but those are for someone's grandchildren.I just ordered some Yellowhorn plants from Burnt Ridge Nursery (WA). Hope they produce.
I have had success with crimson clover inter cropped with my garlic. I like crimson clover inter cropped in many of my annual beds because, in Alaska, it doesn't get too tall and it winter kills. And the bees love it. So do snowshoe hare, so we are seriously fenced, for a number of reasons.
Hey fellow Alaskans!
If you are in the Anchorage area, please join the Anchorage Permaculture Guild for a number of activities each month: Potluck/socials every second Sunday of the month: very informal, great time to share food and thoughts. There are workshops almost every month; usually the 3rd Saturday of the month. We are growing mushrooms for this month's workshop. There is a gathering at an area restaurant for Stammtisch, usually at the end of the month on a Saturday evening, for great, lively discussions of any and all topics. There will be the Seed Exchange on March 16th, 7-9 pm at the Anchorage Cooperative Extension, 1675 C St, Ste 100; everyone is invited. Seedling Exchange will be in April. The Permaculture Library is open. Yarducopia, thru ACAT, is turning lawns into food, and connecting gardeners with gardens. Most details are on the Anchorage Permaculture Guild FB page.
Thanks for your interesting thoughts on this issue. I agree with you that many (most) North Americans have developed a limited food palate but I think this could be something that is a little more interesting. I won’t suggest that my husband has “refined” taste, since he even claims to like pushki and there is little he won’t eat. He perceives the devil’s club shoots as a mild spring green but nothing special, while I loved the taste from the first bite and need to curb the foraging greed this triggers. (I teach foraging in a number of local programs, and I stress responsible and sustainable harvest, so this leaves me conflicted on some forays, but I do behave ) It sounds like the taste experience for you is even more intense and sophisticated. I would have not given this much though, if Verna Pratt, who is something of a legend in our little corner of world noted this as well.
Cultural aspects of flavor and acquired taste aside, there is likely a wide variation in taste perception based on the repertoire of olfactory receptors that we inherit and our general health as we age.
This probably applies to many other foods and flavors. Different groups may also have had selection for certain sensitivities where either sensitivity or insensitivity to certain taste can have survival benefits and some of this may arise at the level of taste perception. I still think that Devil’s club may provide an example of this rich human variation.
To return to the topic of the thread, I can recommend the Devil’s club buds highly and have experimented with harvest on my own land where moderate bud removal has not resulted in any apparent loss of vigor of the plants, since the plant has considerable potential for re-budding from proximal sites.
All this talk of perennial zone 3 vegetable and medicinals reminds me that most permies do not live by food alone. There is an older thread on the use perennials for that important sustenance of fermented beverage. The recipe included several abundant perennials! Myrica gale has potential as an herb in foods as well. Birch syrup involves a lot of work to acquire and demands a high price but is a delicious treat.
Devil’s club has a rich history in Alaskan native medicinal traditions and in use by the early pioneers. There is one small oddity that I can share relating to the taste perceptions. Harvesting some of the spring buds for an omelet or soup is a tradition in my household. Apparently, different individuals differ in their ability to taste the ginseng like essential oils in the bud, which are probably nerolidol or cerdol. This used to get me crazy looks from my husband, when I would expound on the wonderful flavors in the bud. In talking to Verna Pratt, who is the living master of all things related to central Alaskan flowers and plants, she noted this human variation seems fairly common. It is similar to the ability of some cats to taste catnip while others are indifferent. I will be interested to hear how many of the users perceive the strong ginseng flavor of the buds.
Flavor can be subjective and so dependent on growth conditions. The Longpie pumpkin flavor is as good or better than the various pie pumpkins that I have grown even in favorable hot climates like Colorado. The texture in much better than any of these pupkins. The Lonpie seems to have less sugar than many winter squash but the same nice nutty complex flavors. Even for the longpie, the larger and more mature fruits always have much better flavor and sweetness than the smaller ones, but this is typical of many squashes. Longpie is a clearly superior performer in my climate, but I am very interested in how it compares in warmer locations when directly comparison to winter squash.
There is an old file on the Alaska Permaculture Ning site. Under "Groups", "Alaska Permaculture Doc". I don't think it has been updated in awhile, but is a nice compilation. You have to join, which is not a hardship but the site will end after this year, likely.
We are growing red and black currants, gooseberries, Saskatoon serviceberries, very productive cultivars of lingonberries and nangoonberries, Russian mountain ash, seaberries, Nanny berries, honey berries, Evans cherry, and various apples. Strawberries and raspberries, of course. We have a small nursery.
I garden at about 800 ft in the Anchorage area. Theoretical zones haven’t meant much with the chaotic weather of recent years! The Anchorage Permaculture Guild organizes both a seed and seedling exchange. I usually try to offer a few new or well tested perennials through the events. Most years there is demand for Good King Henry (Chenipodium bonus-henri), and I will grow some starts for the seedling exchange. This year I will also start some more Turkish Rocket (Bunias orientalis). It has done well, bees love it and I enjoy the taste. Sweet cicely and valerian are other perennials that do well as herbal and medicinals, respectively, that I may offer at the exchange. Horseradish does great. Fuki has done surprisingly well. We are experimenting with a wide range of perennial alliums, (Welch onions are amazing!) etc. Our real interest has been in shrubs and berry production but that could be a very long topic. Your Stachyis affinis would be a very popular trade item if it does well for you.
We are still working out the growing conditions for Siberian ginseng. The plants grow well on our site but over-wintering has been more challenging, which was not the expected problem.
Stephan Barstow’s book Around the World in 80 Plants is perfect for your climate and growing conditions. Stephan has experimented with hundreds of varieties in a garden area on the Norwegian coast north of the Arctic circle.
We are discussing a possible workshop in the Homer area for Stropharia rugose-annulata installations in high tunnels, since edible mushrooms are an area that we have been developing and have been sharing with the Anchorage Permies. We could potentially bring down some plants or seeds if this works out. I can be reached by PM if you are in going to be in the Anchorage area. I can also be found on “Spruce Tip Farm” on facebook.
The book by Stephen Barstow, Around the World in 80 Plants is an amazing collection of information about edible perennial plants in temperate climates. There is a tremendous amount of information from a more Eurasian perspective. Unfortunately, the title does not capture the breadth and detailed knowledge contained. Barstow is a permaculturist who gardens thousands of plant varieties north of the artic circle. One of his whimisical claims was a salad containing 537 vegetable varieties collected in his gardern. The information complements Toensmeier's book on Perennial Vegetables but is almost completely independent. Barstow's web-site is www.edimentals.com
In different regions, drainage tiles can address different problems. It sounds like, it is a question of drainage of excessive precipitation in your region. In arid or highly evaporative lands, tiles serves to reduce a water table but also to avoid the problem of rising salt that occurs in irrigated lands if surface capillarity is ever established! I lived in Colorado on the Front Range in an agriculture area with expansive clay, I learned much more about drainage systems than I had ever planned, and it was expensive in time and treasure! We had a drainage system that covered similar acreage to what you describe. Your problem is likely to be much more tractable.
The best lesson that I learned was to talk to the oldest farmers in the area or, if you can, the person that installed the system to understand how it was designed and what was the purpose of the system. We were at a loss until an elderly women living in the area showed us the location of the common drain for the land well beyond our property. It was not intuitive, since it was on the uphill side but the drainage went deep and deeper into a very deep and hidden ditch. Ultimately, we found some old maps from the local cooperative extension library that explained the system but the help of neighbor was still essential. Hopefully, your situation is more straightforward.
Tiles are common on some excellent conventional ag land in the US and for better or worse had a purpose. In the US, these systems are usually placed well beyond the reach of a sub-soiler to prevent damage, and it was a major operation to dig up sections for replacement. I don’t know the depth of your tiles or the lay of the surrounding land but it is important to understand the consequences of changing the system. If your land has subsoil drainage from surrounding areas or uphill connected drain systems considerable swamp or bog areas could result. Once you know the direction of drainage and the extent, then selective blocking of tile lines allows experimentation. Such systems have also been used to fill catchment ponds that are dug out in the downstream collection point. You may also collect a toxic brew from neighbors. Leaving tiles in place can create different environments, since drainage may allow earlier start to growing season, if the land stays dried out. Water saturation is also another factor that can greatly alter over-wintering of perennials.
The best hope may be to find an experienced older farmer that knows the land. They may not agree with your goals and methods and think they are weird, but if approached correctly and treated with respect, these folks are very smart about the land and how it might respond to changes. (In contrast, our local cooperative extension agent trained at a corporate influenced land grant university was neither useful nor sober in trying sort out these issues.)
Good luck with your project!
I hesitate to post this because of the cost of the company’s axes and splitting maul, but there is one company that comes with a 20 yr guarantee, Grandsfors Bruk. Sometimes these can be found at a discount or as used axes offered by individuals. The company has threatened to quite sending them to the US because they think we are not serious about our wood craft.
I can also offer the perspective of a dedicated wood "splitter" that is female and not so young. This is the first maul that I have felt gave me good control and accuracy. Youth and energy can overcome a lot of deficiencies in tools, but I need to make the most of my efforts. The Grandsfors Bruk is light enough to use for an extended period with a 5 ½ pound head. There is a built in steel shield to protect the wooden handle from mis-strikes. The wooden handle is 31 inches and works well for me or my 6’ 2” husband. The wooded handle absorbs the shock compared to metal or fiberglass handles. The very sharp blade holds an edge very well and the concave shape has a remarkable ability to split green or seasoned rounds. Some younger (and stronger) friends have been rapid converts and realized they could leave a mechanical splitter in the dust. We are in central Alaska where birch and spruce predominate that are easier to split than many southern woods, but black spruce can be very tenacious. The company also makes a spitting wedge with a twisted shape, a very sharp blade and a unique profile. Our experience with the carving hatchet and bowl adz has also been excellent. Amortized over the many cords split, the maul has been a pretty good deal. I sound like a paid sales person for the company, which I am not but I would take some free samples if the company is listening .
As far as technique, I use an old tire to contain the rounds for splitting, and, as Dale notes, a little cold and the longer strike distance to the rounds near the ground makes short work of this chore. It is also safer than practice, where the rounds on the stump my lead to more dangerous arc for the maul if there is a misdirected blow.
Making bone char has been part of our family routine during the winter heating season. Our household will start a wood fire in the Jotul wood stove in the evening that is nice and hot, and if we have bones (cooked and dried after making bone stock, for example) we will add these in the last stages of the fire or to the hot coals. This is more than sufficient to burn the remaining fat and protein matrix out of the bone and result in an easily crumbled product the next day. The bone still keeps its normal shape in the stove so that it is easily separated from the ash or biochar. There is not much need for a separate container in the stove. The bone will literally crumble to powder with minimal force. We prefer to add this bone char to the compost piles to further the process.
The theory behind this approach is that the bone char provides a rich source of phosphorous as some form of hydroxyapatite that still requires mycorrhizal support to make it available to plants and will not result in the inhibition of the plant-fungal association that occurs in high levels of free phosphate. Theory aside, there has been remarkable improvement in production from our base soil that is a sand and silt mix that is poor source of minable phosphate. We can easily process much of rib bones from a moose or caribou over the course of the winter.
The picture shows a pile of the accumulated bone char before it is crushed to powder.
Al raises some excellent points! Don’t buy more bike than you need for the intended purpose. It is also a good idea to know about what size of frame you need when looking for deals and to pay attention to the components and consider how hard it will be to service. For me, a single or three speed was a great way to get to and from work over relatively flat urban streets of Denver for many years, but those same simple bikes would be dangerous on steep trails or on mountainous roads, where more gearing option and excellent braking become a key safety issue for comfortable travel.
My post is specific to the very specialized “fatbike”, which is probably not in wide use outside of snow country. If you “google” fatbike it will show you many examples of this unlikely mutation of the bicycle. Only a small number of the permies crowd would even consider such a ride useful. Where there are roads or hardened trails, there is no need for such a bike unless there is frequent snow!
The Surly sale prices are still a lot of money but these prices are less expensive than many used older models of the same brand, and the new bikes have some real design improvements. Again, this is a lot of money but many individuals are replacing their need for forms of motorized transportation it can be an option. It is pretty startling where these bikes can go and how little impact they leave on the environment. For the mechanically inclined, it is possible to use a separate set of wheels for summer. Even the Surly level of bikes is painful in terms of maintenance cost compared to the simple reliable bikes described by Al. You can plan on replacing an expensive chain yearly and a cluster every other year, more often if you a large, strong rider. The tires are shockingly expensive. My husband’s line is that “at least they are cheaper than a visit to an orthopedic surgeon”. The issue of parts replacement and tire issues need to be factored in when conssidering the total cost of owning new or used bikes.
As Al notes, where you can, go simple and cheap but if you were already have reasons for considering a fatbike, the Surly deal may deserve a look, since it is a pretty good price and much better than any I have seen locally on Craigslist for used fatbikes.
The development of the fat bike (about 4 or 5 inch low pressure tires) has been a huge boon for human powered access to trails of snow and ice in the north. Least readers think that this is only for the youth. There are a lot of grey haired folks in my age demographic that are out there on these bikes. Ross Raven has discussed the post-apocalypse side of such biking.
In our area, the fat bikes are really mostly used for recreation with high status and ridiculous costly versions with lots of titanium and carbon. As a company, Surly has always been the people's bike and really the first mass producer of the fat bike. Surly is apparently overstocked on current complete fatbikes. The prices are pretty good for a rock solid bike with reliable components. If you're in the market for a steel frame fat bike, this might work out for you. It could also put a little pressure on the used market that has demanded really high prices in IMHO.
Buying a more affordable bike also allows budgeting for add ons that can make riding a pleasant experience. With the availability of studded tires (Dillinger N45) this has made a very reliable form of winter commuting possible and allows access to many areas with pure ice. Before these tires, there was nothing good about being on ice with a snow bike--it was a trip to the orthopedist waiting to happen! With them, the hard thing is remembering how slick it will be when you get off. My dear husband put the studded tires on my older Pugsley but seems to "borrow" this bike quite often for riding on the steep single track trails with friends.
Fat bikes are not just for winter. With the improved tire patterns (Surly's Nate are an example), riding on soft muddy trails churned by ATVs or crossing streams is a lot easier. The fat tires seem to do less harm than boots most of the time. Land managers have their own ideas about this but the pressure in the tires can be pretty low. The gearing is also set up for tough conditions. You can also just pick up the bike and carry it which is easier than with an ATV. For hunting or foraging, large paniers can be added, and the bike can be surprisingly silent. At worst, it may become a push cart if loaded down. I wouldn't want to carry out a moose but a deer or caribou is pretty feasible with a few bikes. Finding a way to comfortably and safely carry a rifle can be more challenging on the bike.
I have no commercial ties to Surly , and I would grab one of those high end bikes in a second if a good deal came along on a used one. However, this Surly offer may be a way for some readers to gain access to a bike that has been a pretty useful tool and will go places that a traditional mountain bike will not, albeit at a more stately pace but not nearly as slow as you might guess when you first see them.
Aloha Culture bank has some good ideas that were geared to processing waste streams to improve income of African small holding farms, but the specifics of the banana leaves as a substrate is not clearly described. Their web site also contains excellent resources for low temp systems of pasteurization.
Tradd Cotter has also spent time developing techniques for using common tropical organic waste in mushroom culture, which is described in his book. He has focused on attempt to help Haitian farming recover. I think there are some useful chapters in his book. My copy is out on loan, and I can't confirm this recollection.
As rule of thumb that helps determine what can be expected, a good yield might be a lb of mushroom for a lb of DRY weight of substrate. You could probably find an oyster strain that would grow on dried and pasteurized banana waste, but simplified systems will be trickier. However, the results are sometimes interesting if you obtain a yield with little work. Some of the warm weather strains of oyster might be workable. As John notes, the waste can also be processed by composted and used to grow terciary decomposers such as Agaricus.
Do whatever is easiest. The hot strands can connect to form a loop or consist of individual straight runs. As long as the connection is strong at the energizer, it is all the same. The electrons won"t care. Both will be connected to the same high voltage "hot" connector. We usually do whatever uses the least wire, makes accidental grounding less likely and makes it the easiest to change out components of the wire. It can be tricky to make durable splices in the middle of the run but there are ways to do this as well. Some of the present galvanized wire is of pretty poor quality and can corrode at an alarming rate. Sad to say periodic replacement of strandshas become part of the maintenance.
Good luck with your fencing! There is something satisfying about successful "area denial".
The location of the ground relative to the hot wire is really not important provided it has solid connection with moist earth. The ground can easily be places near the energizer and connected to the ground terminal. There is no reason that a hot wire needs to make a complete circuit back to the energizer and multple lines can be led off from the energizer. The key is to prevent unwanted grounding by branches or other vegetation. From the sound of the rated fencing coverage, you should easily get the attention of the deer provided they come in contact and don't either scoot under or jump over the single wire. In really dry times, the resistance at the surface soil level can reduce the shock, but changing the ground position can't do much for this and placement near a pond is perfect. No harm will come from the ground wire unless the circuit is completed!. Some critters may also push through if startled by the shock, especially if they can't see the wire.
The goal is have the target animal complete the circuit to provide a strong warning that this is a "no go situation". However, a single wire doesn't sound like the best option for protection but it is an understandable attempt to reduce cost and material. This minimalist approach may deserve experimentation provided there is nothing too precious that you are protecting. Sometimes it is best to have a layered or three dimensional fence to discourage intrusion. If a deer or in my case moose is approaching the fence it slows them down visually and if there are a few strands of energized wire on an angled 2 by 2 projecting outward at ear or nose level, it makes for an unpleasant surprise and even moose can learn to stay away from the fence. We use five feet of welded wire fencing below and keep it grounded so that climbers such a black bears are grounded between the fence and energized wires running above to reduce there visits. Our fences are pretty lightly built and a fast moving moose or brown bear could blast through them with little effort! It would take a lot of expense to make a fence that stopped this. Many approaches can work, and there are always unexpected ways for the systems to fail!
A lot of jittery electrons still seem like the most cost effective way to reduce unwanted critters from the garden. Good luck with your fencing.
I post this with some trepidation, since we brewers have strong opinions about our beverages. This is also most interesting to the permie inhabitants of the frozen north.
I have strayed a long way from the early efforts making specific styles of beer from malted grain and precise recipes. Some of this has been by necessity, since I have a spouse with celiac or gluten intolerance, so barley is out. This led me to explore a variety of alternatives, but what I want to focus on in this post are some alternatives to the hops. These should work with any grain base; I happen to use sorghum and birch syrup, but barley malt might be even tastier.
One successful experiment for bittering has been the use of a mixture of herbs or gruits that date back far into European history. Gruit-based ale was the only form of the beverage for almost 700 years. The gruits, which were proprietary, were under the control of monopolies aligned with and taxed by the Catholic Church, and the transition to hops was led by groups aligned with the Lutheran church following the schism. In Bruhner’s Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers the prevailing view was described as follows:
“It is important to keep in mind the properties of gruit ale: it is highly intoxicating-narcotic, aphrodisiacal and psychotropic, when consumed in sufficient quantity. Gruit ale stimulates the mind, creates euphoria and enhances sexual drive. The hopped ale that took its place is quite different. Its effects are sedating and anaphrodesiacal. In other words, it puts the drinker to sleep and. . . . . “
So the general drift is that gruit ale caused that wild Catholic decadence in the view of the Lutherans that later outlawed the gruit recipe. I can’t report any of the remarkable effects described above but it does make an interesting beverage. A microbrewer could use this as quite a marketing campaign.
The gruit is a mixture of common northern herbs. This includes myrica gale. I use mostly the female leaves and mature seed pods that are highly aromatic. The plant is dioecious and easily distinguished by mid to late summer. There are countless acres of this growing wild on our local swampy river sections. As with all of these herbs used for hop replacement, they are best fresh or frozen to retain their heavenly aroma. The yarrow Archillea millefolium needs to be used fresh or frozen to preserve the bittering and is harvested as flowers and leaves. And the final local herb is Rhododendron groenlandicum (bog Labrador tea, formerly Ledum groenlandicum or Ledum latifolium). In the north, this is a common plant in swampy, black spruce forests. This is a substitution for the related European Ledum palustre. Labrador tea must not be confused with the bog rosemary that looks similar but contains Andromeda toxin. There were likely other herbs added as well.
I use about 2 ounces of each herb for 5 gallons of wort. Reducing the myrica gale may be needed if the amount of seed pods is high. The gruit was added to the last 20 minutes of the boiling of the wort before cooling, filtering and pitching.
Most beer drinkers have found this an interesting and enjoyable brew. A few have objected to the taste. It provides a view of another age, and has become a yearly tradition with the ritual of collecting the herbs from three diverse habitats. If you can find a copy of Buhner’s book, I highly recommend it. It documents the long history of women as the primary keeper of the sacred brews!
The comments of John are excellent for the difference between "sterile and non-sterile" culture.
As Joylynn notes Peter McCoy at Radical Mycology has provided excellent free or very economical resources to the public to help with culture of mushrooms. He deserves more support and recognition for his dedication.
To answer your practical question, you should be able to use the sterile liquid cultures to inoculate through the port of your sterilized jars without significant risk of contamination. Use a sterilized needle and chemically sanitize the injection port surface. The level of airborne spores and bacteria in a reasonably clean room with limited air movement is surprisingly low and is unlikely to be captured in the needle puncture. Medicine depends on the same first principles for IV insertion into a sterile site after sanitizing the skin surface. For many other techniques dead air boxes or laminar flow hoods become more important! Most the time if there is contamination that is heavy, it came from the liquid culture itself.
We get a free, delivered load of wood chips every fall from the tree service companies. It tends to be a mixture of birch, alder, cottonwood and spruce. Birch, alder and cottonwood work great as our hardest woods, supporting SRA well. Spruce is not so useful for the mushrooms we like to grow. Our wood chip pile ages overwinter and get watered with pee, so it has lots of nitrogen. SRA loves it. Just got another flush, even after several good freezes. Easiest mushroom I've ever grown and we are eating really well.
Yes, I'm sure about my source, Wikipedia: "The fungus also has a European history of being grown with corn." I was referring to the use of SRA in agriculture. SRA makes wonderful compost.
Steve and Corey,
You both have raised some very interesting points. To begin with Steve’s observations, I probably tried to present the problem in a less technical manner to encourage less experienced growers. My household has become a source of mycelium or mushroom for the local permaculture guild, otherwise known as mushroom geeks. To give a more complete answer, in Southcentral Alaska, we have recently been experiencing warmer winters than much of Maine but we are still about 1300 miles to the north. Measures like growing zone focuses on sentinel cold events not on the cumulative climatic effect on soil temperature. Mushroom biology makes them less susceptible to deep freezing events unless they are neotropical fungi that die well before freezing. The northern latitude governs the soil temperature, and this is an important determinate of mycelium growth, since most mycelium have an optimal temp range. The northern regions have a very rich native fungal ecology with a lot of cold adapted competitors. During spawn runs even a few degrees makes a huge difference in grow out of Stropharia rugosa-annulata (SRA) spawn, which is happiest in the 70s. We are also working on strain improvement for our region to select for better outside growth.
I should have made clear that the greenhouse or high tunnel idea for growing SRA is very specific to cold northern regions in order to generate yields faster. What I do know for certain is that a lot of failed attempts have been made to grow SRA in outside beds in Alaska with some recent success in the warmest microclimates. As one moves south, the high tunnel effect on substrate temps may be counter-productive, since some SRA strains are reported to die at a substrate temp of 90F. The greenhouse niche can be used to push limits for fungal growth just as it is for plants. In Maine it might allow efficient growth of blewits, Hypsizgus sps., or reishi. Further south, paddy straw mushrooms could be grown, etc.
Regarding temperature of survival, I have little doubt that the SRA will survive the winter. Stamets in his first book on cultivation suggested -5 F as a limit but your own experience and that others suggest much greater tolerance provided the mycelium doesn’t desiccate. Your oysters should also do well. We give out finished oyster straw bags that we have stored outside for fellow permies to use as garden inoculation after a winter of freeze thaw. It does great. Oysters are popping out of the most unlikely places!
Corey, as you note, nitrogen is a plus and minus for mushrooms. Some strains find free ammonia toxic. The added urine to a giant wood chip pile leads to composting/mineralizaton and a very complex substrate. The SRA goes crazy when it hits this stuff, which is different than the usual advice to use clean substrate.
Thanks for your comments and good growing to both of you.
I have spent some time wondering about this topic and the complexity of the Frankia species. Our question too was whether the ubiquitous Alders would supply a suitable source of bacteria for seaberries.
The simple answer is that they will not. Alnus have symbiosis with cluster 1 strains of Frankia, and the plant species you and I are interested in, use cluster 3 strains. Some symbiosis of alder is seen by cluster 3 but this seems to be an artificial laboratory event.
The next question is “does it matter?” Both cluster 1 and cluster 3 are widespread, or as the ecologist say “cosmopolitan” in their distribution. Unlike cluster 2, cluster 1 and 3 are widely distributed in soil and probably grow extensively in the rhizosphere of non actinozhizal plants as free living bacteria. Cluster 1 is found under birch forest for example. The ecologic preferences of the strains is complex, and understanding seems incomplete. Some Alaskan have ecologist suggest that the strains may vary greatly even for alder species within the state and vary geographically. I can’t find a citation for this, which seems a little against the prevailing viewpoint.
We have been using donor plants obtained from outside for the seaberries with an initial closely approximated growth under nursery conditions before out planting of starts. This helps survival but may have nothing to do with Frankia colonization. If you had space and energy, it would be interesting to see what happened with Frankia capture in your region after direct seeding.
Good luck with your plantings and a great resource for all things Frankia is in the link below.
Caleb, I agree about not using plastic. I used it in Colorado, briefly, but concluded it was not a good choice. Appeared to damages the soil structure. We do use movable cold frames to heat up and protect some of the annual beds. Works great; just remove when the temps rise. An they return them in the fall. And, yes, we do use rocks to hold heat for many of the trees and shrubs in the forest garden. We actually are lucky to have a south facing bowel for much of our growing area that creates a micro climate.