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First fruit from Wine Caps - tips to propagate?

Posts: 203
Location: NNSW Australia
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Hi folks,
I've grown a few sorts of fungi before, but this is my first time with winecaps (and the spawn was pretty expensive).

My plan is to use half the cap to make a print and put spores into storage as backup.
The other half-cap will be laid on some fresh woodchips.
A stem slurry goes on top of some woodchips.
And the stem-butt buried in some woodchips.

Would it be easier to get the spores/slurry/butts propagated on cardboard first before I inoculate the woodchips?

I have a very small amount of fresh woodchips and no access to more at the moment.
I do have a large bin of clean, half-shredded straw - but I am unsure of its suitability as a growth medium.
[My other wine cap patch was in deep mulch in the garden and has been demolished every other night by digging marsupials or bush-rats]

Any advice would be appreciated.
master steward
Posts: 6547
Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
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I just pile more wood chips on my wine cap bed when I think they need it and they seem to be happy.  They always fruit/appear at the outer edges of the bed for what that's worth.  I've heard straw will work as a food source for them but I've only used wood chips.
Posts: 1073
Location: Nevada, Mo 64772
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I tried straw. I only got a few mushrooms but not sure if it was because of using straw.
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Hi Jondo,

You can pasteurize some cardboard, and start your stem sections on that cardboard. Though you don't need to make a stem slury, just use a sterile knife to cut sterile sections from inside the stem, to inoculate your pasteurized cardboard in some disinfected totes. Cleaning the totes with rubbing alcohol will disinfect them. You can stack the pasturized cardbord layers in totes to make a large block, with slivers of the sterile stem in between them. The rest of the stem you could make a slury with, and use that to mix into a different batch of pasterized cardboard too, for a comparison and back up plan. You can pasteurize cardboard by boiling it, or use a alkaline pasteurization process with lime or wood ash. I've used shredded cardboard before,  and it works in totes too. Rolling up wet cardboard, cut to the dimensions of the tote, will often times fit well in a large stock pot, so that can help to more efficiently pasteurize cardboard cut to fit stacked in totes.

For the Stropheria cap, you can save half for the spores, but from my understanding, spores don't store very well long term. For the half you want to use now, just blend that cap in unclorinated water, in your blender to liquefy it. Take that spore slury and dilute it down in 4, 5 gallon buckets of unclorinated water, and inoculate your King Stropheria beds. For better coverage, you can strain the spore slury from your blender, so the diluted down mix from the 5 gal buckets, can be applied with a sprayer.

When you set up your beds, put down a layer of wet cardboard, then a layer of old hay or straw, then up to 8" of hardwood chips. You can spray the spore slury on your wet cardboard while building the bed, or spray it on the bed after you build it, watering those spores into the chips after you spray the bed with the slury. Onother option is to pre inoculate your cardboard, so when you build your beds, the wet cardboard layer, gets the additional cardboard spawn on top for faster colonization of the bed. Since cardboard works well for the mycelium to quickly colonize, inoculating that cardboard layer helps speed the colonization of the entire bed.

You can also make cardboard spawn, by putting wet cardboard sprayed with the spore slury stacked in totes, or wrapped up and taped tight in visqueen. Keep them mostly air tight, in an area with no direct light, and at the right temperature, then once they are fully colonized, use them as a spawn layer when innoculating beds. I've found certian clear totes, stay fairly air tight enough to work, and since they are clear, you dont have to open them to see whats happening inside.

The pasteurization process, though its not always necessary with King Stropheria mycelium cultivation, will help drastically to eliminate failures when making spawn.

Hope that helps!
Jondo Almondo
Posts: 203
Location: NNSW Australia
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Thanks for the replies, particularly R's techniques. The guidance eased my anxiety over stuffing up and losing the fungus.

I wanted to mention that the spawn I bought took 12 weeks from inoculation to half a dozen mushrooms and lots of spawn.
The original spawn was $50, but now I look forward to sharing it with all and sundry and inoculating the mulch around the local food forest that has recently been planted.

I built the layered mushroom beds as suggested, but went without the pasteurization, because two of my original beds both threw up fruits and the 'crate of spawn experiment' (corrugated cardboard and straw, kept moist) was also a resounding success.
The crate has all sides layered with non-corrugated cardboard to block wind and create shade and a plastic bag 'lid' to hold the moisture in - you can see one shaded by a cassava in the pic below.

A sudden influx of woodchips allowed me to scale up x10 with all the spores and spawn - in addition to making another spawn-crate.
As well as spore slurry and spawn transplants, I used spore-prints, stem-butts and segments on the split cardboard layer - and a few broken caps buried shallowly near the top for good measure.

The beds were finished just as we were forecast to get a solid week of rain. I think wine caps might enjoy our wet cool seasons.

(There's less straw and more chips than indicated by this photo, the outer edges are straw-heavy and the chips aren't just on top)
[I underestimated both the volume of materials required and the work involved in hauling wet chips and bending over laying newspaper cardboard etc - if your not fighting fit, get a helping hand]

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