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Recent surprise mycorrhizal harvest—suggestions?

 
pollinator
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Hello all,

As is probably no surprise to many on this site, I am highly enthusiastic about almost anything fungal.  A couple of weeks ago I stumbled onto a micorrhizal bonanza.  I was helping a neighbor take down a hickory tree about 15-20 feet tall and about 4 inches in diameter so he could make room to pull his truck into his driveway.  After we cut the tree down, we began to dig out the feeder roots and while I was digging I started to pull up mounds of white fungi intricately wrapped around the fine root hairs coming out of the feeder roots.  

The more I dug, the more white, healthy looking mycelia I pulled out of the ground.  Eventually I decided it would be criminal to not save this fungi.  I found a 1 gallon potting container and filled it up with the wonderful mixture of mycelia, clay soil and root hairs.  It was amazing to see so much mycorrhizal fungi so perfectly wrapped around the root hairs.  It actually felt a little criminal to disrupt such a beautiful partnership in action.

So the focus of this post is what to do with the fungus now?  Most of the gallon is still in contact with both clay and root hairs, so I think that it is ok for the moment.  Is there a way to grow this mycelia or use it to deed more?  Should I just add it to soil such as around my comfrey plants?  Would it help or hurt to add to my wine cap infused wood chip beds?  Any other suggestions?

Thanks in advance and I look forward to your ideas.

Eric
 
pollinator
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Location: Illinois USA - USDA Zone 5b
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Wow, what a nice find!

Any chance you could use it to inoculate the soil to plant some young hickories or a related tree such as pecans?
 
Eric Hanson
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Myrth,

I certainly have plenty of hickory around me.  Around here hickory grows like mad.  If I had plans for planting trees in the immediate future I would certainly use them for those trees.

I was really wondering if I could possibly use them for any gardening projects.  I had previously planned to harvest microbes from around trees, but I found a jackpot and am wondering if I can/should speed up my previous plans.

Eric
 
Myrth Gardener
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My limited understanding of mycorrhizal fungi is that the various species of fungi have evolved to be interdependent with certain species of plants. Thus, beyond hickories and likely the closely related pecans, I am not sure what species your fungi would work with. It is an interesting question. I will watch this thread for a more expert answer, as I am curious.
 
Myrth Gardener
pollinator
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Curious, I did a bit more research to see if I could find out which species of mycorrhizal fungi helps which species of plants. I found this, which has a link to a downloadable chart. Looks like your fungi would also help walnuts but not really any garden type plants.

https://mycorrhizae.com/faqs/
 
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I’d worry about it competing with my winecap. I think I already have contamination in my bed I’d hate to make it worse. When I have extra mycelium I add it to my compost.
 
Eric Hanson
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Dennis,

Do you think that it would best applied to finished compost?  I would not want the heat of an active pile killing off that fantastic fungi.

Eric
 
Dennis Mitchell
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Good point. I have lots of wood chips and decayed wood in the compost pile I use for trees and bushes, plus manure and garden waste. I’m not so much trying to grow the mushrooms as create a microbial feast for my trees and bushes. I’ll still add a little to my main compost pile, but just because I want complexity in nutrients for my plants.
 
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Hi Eric,

I have a suggestion that might make you a little money and help those of us trying to find good inoculants for our compost.  If you cook up a bunch of rice and put it into a large tub and inoculate it with your fungus.  The rice will provide a food source for the fungus.  You need to clean out everything very well that you are using to grow the fungus.  Once you put the rice in the container mix in the fungus mixture.  Keep it warm say 30 deg C.  It used to work in a tissue culture lab but I still remember the basics.

You should be able to tell when it is ready to sell the evidence of healty growing fungus cultures.  The trees were providing it with sugar but now you are providing the sugar in the rice.  Once it has grown for a few weeks and it has replicated nicely, you should be able to sell quart bags of the stuff for say $10 plus $10 shipping.  It should fit in one of the small postal service fixed price boxes or padded bags.    Once the buyer re ceives his supply he can make his own batch of rice and innoculate the batch with your mixture.   Later they can dilute and innoculate their compost heap and even apply it directly to their gardens.

You might run it past Dr. Redhawk but I think he would concur.  
 
Myrth Gardener
pollinator
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Ralph Kettell wrote:Hi Eric,

I have a suggestion that might make you a little money and help those of us trying to find good inoculants for our compost.  If you cook up a bunch of rice and put it into a large tub and inoculate it with your fungus.  The rice will provide a food source for the fungus.  You need to clean out everything very well that you are using to grow the fungus.  Once you put the rice in the container mix in the fungus mixture.  Keep it warm say 30 deg C.  It used to work in a tissue culture lab but I still remember the basics.

You should be able to tell when it is ready to sell the evidence of healty growing fungus cultures.  The trees were providing it with sugar but now you are providing the sugar in the rice.  Once it has grown for a few weeks and it has replicated nicely, you should be able to sell quart bags of the stuff for say $10 plus $10 shipping.  It should fit in one of the small postal service fixed price boxes or padded bags.    Once the buyer re ceives his supply he can make his own batch of rice and innoculate the batch with your mixture.   Later they can dilute and innoculate their compost heap and even apply it directly to their gardens.

You might run it past Dr. Redhawk but I think he would concur.  



I would happily get this for my pecan trees. Great idea!
 
pollinator
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If the hickory was still healthy when you took it down, it's probably great!

That being said, I think a producer/seller of goods has a burden of responsibility to positively identify the fungus before it is sold to consumers - too much liability/potential for disaster if something goes wrong.
 
gardener
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Eric Hanson wrote:Hello all,

As is probably no surprise to many on this site, I am highly enthusiastic about almost anything fungal.  A couple of weeks ago I stumbled onto a micorrhizal bonanza.  I was helping a neighbor take down a hickory tree about 15-20 feet tall and about 4 inches in diameter so he could make room to pull his truck into his driveway.  After we cut the tree down, we began to dig out the feeder roots and while I was digging I started to pull up mounds of white fungi intricately wrapped around the fine root hairs coming out of the feeder roots.  

The more I dug, the more white, healthy looking mycelia I pulled out of the ground.  Eventually I decided it would be criminal to not save this fungi.  I found a 1 gallon potting container and filled it up with the wonderful mixture of mycelia, clay soil and root hairs.  It was amazing to see so much mycorrhizal fungi so perfectly wrapped around the root hairs.  It actually felt a little criminal to disrupt such a beautiful partnership in action.

So the focus of this post is what to do with the fungus now?  Most of the gallon is still in contact with both clay and root hairs, so I think that it is ok for the moment.  Is there a way to grow this mycelia or use it to deed more?  Should I just add it to soil such as around my comfrey plants?  Would it help or hurt to add to my wine cap infused wood chip beds?  Any other suggestions?

Thanks in advance and I look forward to your ideas.

Eric



That is ectomycorrhizal fungi (arbuscular) and it needs roots to flourish, you can grow it but it won't last unless you can put it into a state of suspended animation the way the companies that sell it in bags of pellets or a powder do.
The rice medium that Ralph suggested will work for a few weeks but then you would want to add some plants that can attract the fungi to entangle with their roots so it will do good things.
Since this arbuscular fungi came from hickory it will also work very well with pecan trees, and it will even work with those of the prunus family (peach, pear, plum, etc.).
Trying to keep it alive and well in finished compost could be a failure but if there are some unfinished components it could work, I'd go with either the rice method or I would make up some Agar in petri dishes and inoculate them with separated strands of the fungi. (this would give you pure strain hyphae)

It is always worth trying an inoculation of woody type vegetables and even blue berries or service berries, many of the arbuscular species can overlap preferred species of plants to the point of working with plants as yet unknown to work with any particular species of mycorrhizae.

Redhawk

Congratulations on getting to see how the ectomycorrhizae work with the roots and good luck in growing your find into a useful inoculant.
 
Eric Hanson
pollinator
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Redhawk,

I do have a couple of rows of blueberries.  I may try to transfer the mycelia there to help out already established plants.  Thanks for the suggestions.  Also, yes, it is very interesting to see the fine filaments of the fungi wrapped around the fine root hairs.  They almost look like they are shaking hands together.  If I had seen this 10 years ago, I would have thought I was seeing a diseased tree.  It is so fascinating to see and understand that these two organisms are in fact mutually supporting one another.  In a sense, it appeared that the mycelia were doing more work than the root hairs as the mycelia really spread far out into the soil.

Thanks for contributing your considerable knowledge to this thread,

Eric
 
Bryant RedHawk
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hau Eric, indeed the mycelium will spread several hundred feet away from the "host roots" and what that does for the root is allow the plant's exudates to reach far further than possible without the arbuscular fungi's help.
That means more bacteria can travel to the roots sending their call for nutrients and then the bacteria travel inside the roots via the endomycorrhizae which will have synapsis like links to the ectomycorrhizae so the bacteria travel along the fungi strands you saw and pass to the internal fungi at which point the bacteria are milked of their nutrients (kind of like milking a cow), then the depleted bacteria are pushed back out of the root, into the soil so they can revitalize and new, full bacteria can come in for their milking stint.
Once the milked bacteria are fully rejuvenated they are back in the lineup for the next call for their nutrients. The fungi will eat a few along the way but every time the bacteria are milked, they reproduce upon being rejuvenated back in the soil.

Redhawk
 
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