• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education experiences global resources the cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • r ranson
  • Nicole Alderman
  • Anne Miller
stewards:
  • Mike Jay
  • paul wheaton
  • Joseph Lofthouse
garden masters:
  • Joylynn Hardesty
  • Steve Thorn
  • James Freyr
  • Greg Martin
  • Dave Burton
gardeners:
  • Carla Burke
  • Pearl Sutton
  • Dan Boone

How to get a mulch layer of soft and hard woods to break down faster

 
Posts: 3
Location: Georgia
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I did not want to hijack a previous thread where the poster received advice on using a mushroom slurry and compost tea.

I have walked the woods in my area and not found any wild mushrooms. Would it be best to order a few mushroom blocks, let them grow and then blend that for my mushroom slurry? If this is a good route what mushrooms would you recommend I use for a mulch layer that is a mix of hard and soft wood?

Is there a point where I can build a mulch layer that is too thick? I have a good ole Georgia clay in an area that I would want to turn into good soil in a couple years. I am in no hurry but if I can get better soil faster then I am all for it. I currently have about 80 cubic yards of mulch and can have about 10 cubic yards dropped off ever two weeks.
 
pioneer
Posts: 1040
Location: 4b
181
dog forest garden trees bee building
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The best soil I have is a place I dumped a pile of wood chips several feet deep and left them, so my feeling is no, they can't be too deep.  I have heavy clay soil, and the soil in that spot is amazing after the woodchips.

If you have wood chips with green mixed in, that is leaves and small branches included, they will break down pretty quickly as long as they stay damp.  If not, working in some grass clippings or coffee grounds or something else green will help them break down faster.  Again, enough moisture is key.
 
Posts: 44
Location: Texas Zone 9
2
forest garden trees rabbit chicken food preservation bee medical herbs homestead
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
A layer of manure will help with breaking down mulch faster, as will Korean Natural Farming inputs.
 
pollinator
Posts: 263
64
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Gabriel,

As far as innoculents go: to determine what kind of innoculent species to use, will depend on if your woodchips are majority hardwood or majority softwood mix. For majority hardwood use King Stropheria spawn, and for majority softwood use Blewit spawn. Thats if you want a food byproduct. You don't need a mass spawn slury or mushroom blocks, just normal bags of spawn. You can even use productive beds, as an innoculent, once they get established. For the King Stropheria, just put down a layer of wet cardboard, spread the spawn out on the cardboard, then put a layer of hay or straw, then up to 8 inches of wood chips. If your doing larger areas, then a mass spawn slury could be an option, but you want to use spores to make a spawn slury. Just get an old mushroom cap of the desired species; then blend it up with non clorinated water in a blender, and use that dilluted down equally in about 4 five gallon buckets to inoculate your woodchips chips, preferably on a rainy day. You can strain it from the blender, and use a sprayer to apply your buckets of spore slury, as that will give you more coverage. If no rain is in the forcast, water that spawn in well, so it gets down to the depth of the chips where it will stay moist. People typically don't do layers of woodchips deeper then 8 inches, so it doesn't heat up.

Hope that help.
 
Posts: 49
Location: Sydney, Australia. Subtropics
19
forest garden urban medical herbs
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
i have spent a lot of time thinking about this. initially i thought that shade from trees helps woodchips to break down, but inspecting mulch at parks, this is not the case as the wind sweeps under the trees, drying it out. then i thought adding nitrogen helps to break it down, but observations of my gardens showed that its the mycelium that breaks it down, not bacteria. then i discovered the sweet potato patch! underneath the leaves were masses of black composted chips! the key is to create a thick groundcover, which traps a pocket of humid air. from then on the mycelium can thrive and do what it does best :)

 
gardener
Posts: 6066
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
929
hugelkultur dog forest garden duck fish fungi hunting books chicken writing homestead
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Gabriel Russell wrote:I did not want to hijack a previous thread where the poster received advice on using a mushroom slurry and compost tea.

I have walked the woods in my area and not found any wild mushrooms. Would it be best to order a few mushroom blocks, let them grow and then blend that for my mushroom slurry? If this is a good route what mushrooms would you recommend I use for a mulch layer that is a mix of hard and soft wood?

Is there a point where I can build a mulch layer that is too thick? I have a good ole Georgia clay in an area that I would want to turn into good soil in a couple years. I am in no hurry but if I can get better soil faster then I am all for it. I currently have about 80 cubic yards of mulch and can have about 10 cubic yards dropped off ever two weeks.



Which mushrooms to "seed" by using spawn, I'd look into oysters, lions mane, wine cap, king strop, blewit for starters, you might also want to check shitake.
Don't forget that if you use a slurry you can use grocery store mushrooms, just look for the ones they have marked down for quick sale.

As far as thickness of a mulch layer, this is dependent upon what is growing in the area you want to mulch. All plant roots need oxygen from the soil as do the microorganisms you are trying to build up in your soil.
I've seen people kill trees by mulching to thickly near the trunks, if the mulch is far enough away from the trunk (I like about 3 feet for this distance) then it can be very thick (12 to 36 inches) if you are growing a vegetable garden you want less mulch, like 3-5 inches deep.

I recommend you start with a good layer of mulch, perhaps something in the 3 to 6 inch deep range, then you can add more after observing the effects of that initial layer and adjust accordingly.
If you have an area that you don't have something growing in now and you are wanting to improve the soil for a future planting area, I'd go with a minimum of 12 inches for the mulch.
(I like the starter layers R. Steele brought up by the way)

Redhawk

 
Posts: 203
Location: NNSW Australia
29
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I 2nd Ben's suggestion for groundcover.
Geoff Lawton recommends thick groundcover (even weedy ones) to break down chop n drop branches (which are far more recalcitrant to rot than woodchips).

I use large rings of straw mulch around my fruit trees and the ones I've trained Wandering Jew over quickly break down to beautiful soil.
 
gardener
Posts: 1362
Location: Los Angeles, CA
295
hugelkultur forest garden books urban chicken food preservation
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
There are mushroom and fungal spores floating through the air constantly.  They are already there in your mulch, just waiting to wake up and grow.  Further, fungal networks are also present in the soil profile below you chips.  You don't need to do anything heroic to find them and add them.

Just keep the chips evenly moist and they'll break down and the available fungi go to work.

If possible, use non-chlorinated water to keep them wet.  That means city water with chlorine needs to be put in a bucket or barrel for a day or so to gas-off before you wet the chips.  But if that isn't possible, just water the mulch anyway.

Patience, grasshopper.
 
Gabriel Russell
Posts: 3
Location: Georgia
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I could not figure out how to reply to each message.

Collective thanks for everyone's input.
 
I'm THIS CLOSE to ruling the world! Right after reading this tiny ad:
permaculture bootcamp - learn permaculture through a little hard work
https://permies.com/wiki/bootcamp
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!