Win a copy of The Tourist Trail this week in the Writing forum!
  • 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:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • r ranson
  • Anne Miller
  • paul wheaton
stewards:
  • Joseph Lofthouse
  • Jocelyn Campbell
  • Mike Jay
garden masters:
  • Steve Thorn
  • Dave Burton
  • Joylynn Hardesty
gardeners:
  • Carla Burke
  • Pearl Sutton
  • Greg Martin

King Stropharia in the north (56N)

 
Posts: 398
Location: Dawson Creek, BC, Canada
30
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I know there are people in the UK and Europe at 56N or higher, and mushrooms are likely no big deal.  I am on the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains, and we can get 7 month winters.  We can get shorter ones, but 7 is the longest I have experienced up here.

I don't think there are enough fungi on the farm, but with 40 some odd piles of wood chips that are 2 and 3 years old, I am starting to get more fungi now.  This spring, I seen some kind of yellow fungal growth on my east-most mugo pine, which probably means I need to destroy (and burn it) next spring.  There seem to be two possibilities, one whitches hosts from oak to pine and back, and the other is pine to pine.  As there are few oaks around, I suspect it is the pine-pine variety.

But, in reading about fungi for the farm, I happened across Kind Stropharia.  The Peace Country of NE BC and NW Alberta is an important place for bees worldwide, and Canada's first diagnostic imaging centre for bees is only 80 km away in Beaverlodge, Alberta.  To run across a human edible mushroom which may have anti-viral efficacy for bees got my attention.  So, I ordered an outdoor patch from Fungi Perfecti (fungi.com).  If someone from Vancouver, BC; Seattle, WA or similar tells me that they think mushrooms will grow in Dawson Creek, I am unsure of what to think.  We get significantly colder.

I cannot afford to actively heat the mushrooms in winter, so whatever I do has to be passive.  I had read about shallow, frost protected foundations (slab on grade) a few years ago, and so I am applying that kind of technology to the mushrooms.

I built a 4x4 "sandbox" from 2x6 boards 3 high (so 16.5 inches).  The corners have 2x2 posts sticking up about 4 feet.  To have a mushroom which is good at turning wood into humis, making a wood box to contain it as a challenge.

The box is not fancy, just ordinary SPF boards (probably spruce).  I primed all surfaces with BIN primer, which is based on shellac.  I found a water based, one component (cured) polyurethane floor paint, which I then painted over the primer (2 coats).  I bought two sheets of 3/8 outdoor plywood, and put ordinary primer on and then one coat of the same floor paint on all sides.  Three of those half sheets of plywood will be sides, and the fourth (with an array of holes drilled through the roof) will be the roof.  The open side will face SW, which would be a probelm except that immediately adjacent to the mushroom box is a patch of aspen to the SW.

King Stropharia will grow through about 11-12 inches of wood chips.  That  thickness of dry wood chips would have an R value of about R11-R12.

The 4x4 sandbox is surrounded by 4 feet of foam insulation.  In house construction, the insulation is sloped to direct water away from the foundation.  If the foundation is dry, even if it gets cold it can't heave.  If there is a reason to vary the thickness of insulation, the thicker insulation will likely be closer to the foundation.

This is not a house.  The top surface of the insulation (4x8 sheets of 3/4 inch foam) slopes towards the mushroom box, so that the box collects water from a 12x12 area, not from a 4x4 area.  The thickness of insulation on the outside edge of the mushroom box is 2 inches, for an R value of about 8.  If we put 14 inches of wood chips on top, that potentially gives us an R value of R22.  Which is about double the possible insulation value of the mushroom/woodchip/cardboard/... bed.  The outside 2 foot perimeter of this 12x12 then has a layer of 1.5 inch foam insulation.  The outside 12 inches has an additional 1 inch of foam.  The outside 3 inches has an additional 1 inch of foam.  And then we put the 3/4 inch on top.  For about 6.25 inches of foam, that is an R value of about R25.  If we put 10 inches of wood chips at that edge, the wood chips would be flat on top.  I want the outside edge to be slightly lower, so perhaps there is only 8 inches of wood chips at the point 4 feet away, which would have an R value of R33 (if dry).  The wood chips will extend past the foam a bit, so there will be some nice transition to no insulation.

The stairstep foam around the mushroom box

Let's assume that  the diameter of our final wood chips is about 17+ feet.  The wood chips slope slightly to the outside, so if we get a torrential rain, there will be a tendency for immediate water to be directed away from the mushrooms (I don't think they can swim).  But for a gentle rain, the water should percolate down through the chips to the foam, and be directed to the base of the mushroom box.

I filled the mushroom box a while ago, the idea being that we need to get at least 40 days of sustained above 0 temperature to establish the mushroom in the food.  We had a killing frost on Aug 8 (-5C), but that won't bother things buried in mass.  I started with a double layer of cardboard (copper staples removed).  I had pruned a "silver" maple a bit this spring, so I had various branches up to a couple or 3 inches in diameter.  I placed maple on the cardboard to sort of fill the layer, put another double layer of cardboard on, and ....  I watered each layer.  I did this to get to a height of about 11 inches.  The void fraction of each layer was high, and being "big" pieces of wood, it won't pack well anyway.  When I decided to put the "outdoor patch" into the box, the height had shrunk to about 7-8 inches.  Some of the maple I collected had lichen (moss) on it, which has a fungi component.  So, I didn't use lichen covered wood in building the base of the bed.

King Stropharia prefers hardwood.  While I technically have lots of hardwood here (aspen, willow and poplar), I don't have any as wood chips that don't already have a huge population of fungi in it.  So, I went and bought an assortment of wood chips for smoking meat (which includes maple), and I used that for what the patch sawdust was mixed with.  I used a little bit of the patch sawdust just on the cardboard of the next layer (temporarily).  A local farmer has a sawmill, and I managed to get maybe 1/3 of a pickup truck load of sawdust from him.  Then I came back and disassembled my bed to the layer above where most of the outdoor patch was placed.  I added sawdust to the layer above, put the double cardboard back on, added sawdust, ... until I got my wood bed up around 12-14 inches.  And I was watering things along the way.

With no sides are roof on the mushroom box, and the typically low humidity we have (with wind), even though this year is wetter than typical; the sawdust dries out quite quickly on the top.  I had applied a couple of gallons of water to the bed once before "finishing" the box.  And today after putting the sides and roof on, I gave the wood pile another 2 gallons of water.



I then laid the four 3/4 inch sheets of foam around the box.  At the moment, I have the front end loader (FEL) off my tractor, so I can't haul any of these fungi infested wood chips I have here to the mushroom box.  So, I put a bunch of maple and cherry branches on top of the foam, mostly to keep bambi from walking on the foam.



In the late morning, early afternoon, some direct sunlight does get into the mushroom box.  I plan to get some jute or burlap and put that over the open side, to reduce direct sunlight input.

Should these big mushrooms start developing next year, I will look to establish new colonies first on my lawn, and then elsewhere on the farm.  Any bees visiting the neighbourhood are welcome to stop by and eat King Stropharia.

Where I have set my mushroom box, is not what Paul Stamets has envisaged.  I live on the prairies, so to speak.  I think most "real farmers" think I have far too many trees.  I know I have too many "weeds".  Leave a pasture alone for 40 years, and see what happens.

I just got a tractor about the time the outdoor patch got here (52hp).  It came with a grader blade, a box blade and a subsoiler.  So, preparing this site was my opportunity to learn a little about using this equipment.  I've got gaps under the foam, and my "level surface" isn't big enough.   Hopefully I can shore up the edges before I start putting wood chips around.  I had to go deep enough to allow me to make a level surface, which meant scraping all the soil off.  It is just plain clay that this is sitting on.

I have a variety of "spoils" on the periphery of the site.  I am thinking that I will try to make two "temporary" ponds.  I will try and make a smaller/deeper pond "above" the mushroom box, and a larger/shallower pond below.  The ponds will be temporary in the sense that I do not know how long they will impound water.  I suspect the water impounded will not last to freeze-up next year.  But it would be nice to have an area where frogs, toads, salamanders, snakes and so on can call home.  I've had visits from muskrats last year and this year at my bedroom window, so they are around.

Hmm, giving file:/// URLs to the pictures doesn't show anything in the preview.  Okay, I will submit, but maybe I need to add the 3 pictures some other way.
 
Gordon Haverland
Posts: 398
Location: Dawson Creek, BC, Canada
30
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Okay, no pictures.

This picture is the mushroom box with the 3 sides and roof on, showing the "stairstep" of insulation around the mushroom box.

Image0288.jpg
[Thumbnail for Image0288.jpg]
 
Gordon Haverland
Posts: 398
Location: Dawson Creek, BC, Canada
30
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This picture is the mushroom box with sides and roof, showing the "open" SW side.  The roof is concave and has several 3/4 inch holes in it to allow rain to fall onto the mushroom bed.

Image0289.jpg
[Thumbnail for Image0289.jpg]
 
Gordon Haverland
Posts: 398
Location: Dawson Creek, BC, Canada
30
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This is the mushroom box with the top 3/4 inch foam layer in place, to direct rain to the base of the mushroom box.  It should have wood chips around it, but my front end loader is not on the tractor, so I put a bunch of maple and cherry branches on top to hold it in place in case of wind, and to keep bambi from walking on the foam.

Image0290.jpg
[Thumbnail for Image0290.jpg]
 
Gordon Haverland
Posts: 398
Location: Dawson Creek, BC, Canada
30
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The half sheets of plywood were just cut in half, primed and painted.

The outside dimensions of the "mushroom box" are 4x4.  The poles extending up from each corner, are "inside".  Their outside edge to outside edge distance is less than 4 feet.

The first side panel I put up, was opposite of the "open" side, and is about centered.  The other two side panels, abut this first side panel.  So, these two sides "stick out" a little (about 3 inches).  The top is approximately centered.  As the top is fastened by screwing into end grain, I switch from 1.75 inch screws to using 2.5 inch screws.  It is possible I need to use longer screws.  Screwing into end grain is prone to failure.

 
Posts: 114
Location: Athens, GA Zone 8a
25
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Gordon Haverland wrote:But, in reading about fungi for the farm, I happened across Kind Stropharia.  The Peace Country of NE BC and NW Alberta is an important place for bees worldwide, and Canada's first diagnostic imaging centre for bees is only 80 km away in Beaverlodge, Alberta.  To run across a human edible mushroom which may have anti-viral efficacy for bees got my attention.
...
King Stropharia prefers hardwood.  While I technically have lots of hardwood here (aspen, willow and poplar), I don't have any as wood chips that don't already have a huge population of fungi in it.  So, I went and bought an assortment of wood chips for smoking meat (which includes maple), and I used that for what the patch sawdust was mixed with.



I did not know this about the bees. That's good to know! I'm in Zone 8 so I don't have to go to the lengths that you do. But so far I've had trouble getting anything from the two King Stropharia kits I bought, both from Fungi Perfecti. Probably because the wood chips weren't right. Never thought of trying the meat-smoking wood chips. Keep us posted on how those work out for you.

 
Posts: 268
Location: Haiti
21
forest garden rabbit greening the desert
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Growing fungi in worm bins?

In Haiti, there's a popular mushroom, believed to be Psathyrella Coprinoceps, which grows in certain more forested areas of the country. It's dried and boiled with rice to give a good flavor (and the mushrooms are thrown out before eating, though I'm not sure why). It's apparently on the decline as suitable natural envoronments are becoming more scarce. But they can. Still be easily bought in dried form at most markets.

I'm wondering how I would go about trying to propagate these in my worm bin? I plan to increase the number of bins I have, and it seems like a great partnership and a potential source of additional income (and of yummy edible fungi). Could I rehydrate and make a slurry? What should I mix it with? Any natural accelerators I can use? Should I try them in an active bin or in finished worm castings that have been harvested? Should I add any additional material? Cover them? What different ways would you suggest I try this? I have no idea what I'm doing.

We always foraged for mushrooms and I grew them accidentally in my garden in Wisconsin, but this is totally different. This would have to be an artificial environment, because the location is hot and dry with little mature tree cover and virtually no forest floor.

I also have access to sawdust and wood shavings from a friend who makes furniture and such. Is that a good environment?

Thanks in advance!
 
Gordon Haverland
Posts: 398
Location: Dawson Creek, BC, Canada
30
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
In one of  many articles I seen on King Stropharia, if you carryfully pick the mushroom (all of the stem and a bit more), you should end up with some micellium, which can then be transferred to sawdust, wood chips or what have you, to try and culture the mushroom.  I don't know if that method is universal.

 
Gordon Haverland
Posts: 398
Location: Dawson Creek, BC, Canada
30
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
When people think about insulation and foundations, they typically think from the point of view of a hairless ape standing on the surface of the planet with snow all around them.  

That probably isn't the point of view to use.

The Earth creates heat through radioactive decay.  That heat flows out through the surface (which we stand on).  Summer or winter.  But typically we are worried about winter, and so are the mushrooms (worried about winter).

For most of the travel from deep within the Earth to the surface, the flow is probably radial (along a radius from the centre of the Earth).  But, as this heat gets closer to the surface, it starts to notice differences in thermal conductivity (which includes insulation).  I think a forest is considered insulation with respect to a field of hay.  So at fairly deep distances, heat flow can start to divert from places covered by forest to adjacent places that are hay fields.  These are bigger "structures" than my mushroom box, so they get seen "sooner".  I think the R value of 40 foot trees sticking out of the ground is small.  It is more than hay on the ground, but small.

At some point, heat rising from the centre of the Earth, will start to notice a structure as small as 20 feet across.  It sees this as some average level of insulation.  And as the surroundings have small insulation values, the initial redirection of the heat flow is to avoid all of this "insulated area".

As the heat continues to get closer to the surface, it will start to see the differences in insulation in my mushroom box.  It will see that I have something like R33 near the outside edge of the mushroom box, and so heat will be diverted from escaping beyond the perimeter of the mushroom box footprint, to flowing towards the centre of the mushroom box footprint.  And so, there should be more heat flowing through the centre of the mushroom box; than if I didn't insulate the ground around the mushroom box.

 
pollinator
Posts: 751
Location: Southern Illinois
140
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Gordon,

I congratulate you on beginning an ambitious project in challenging conditions and remaining undaunted.  I am trying to wrap my head around all the details of your plan, but unless I am mistaken, you are trying to insulate your pile enough so that your stropharia don’t freeze to death over winter.  

So far, do I have this about right?

Your idea of using leftover styrofoam insulation is interesting and I congratulate you again for utilizing materials you have on hand.

For my part, I would be tempted to try something just slightly different.  Like you, I would like to partially bury the chips/woody material for access to earth’s heat.  For insulation I would want to use straw bales for insulation.  Firstly, this would be a very thick layer of insulation and delay/moderate freezing.  Secondly, the straw would also be good for your mushrooms.  Perhaps at this point you could cap off your pile with styrofoam sheets as an extra layer of protection.  I like that you are insulating the ground out and away from your pile in order to keep freezing ground at bay.

Insulation is great, but a good heat source would be even better.  Stropharia likes to grow in conjunction with bacterial cultures.  Is there any chance you could get a small “hot” (maybe better phrased a “warm”) pile working in the center of your pile?  This would have two mutually beneficial effects.  Obviously it would generate heat as defense against your cold weather.  Secondly it would provide a healthy microbial interaction with the stropharia.

These are just my thoughts and I think you have a really great start for your pile.  If any of my ideas seem helpful, please use them, but this is your pile and your project so in the end, by all means do what you think is best.

Nice project and please keep us updated,

Eric
 
pollinator
Posts: 518
Location: Denmark 57N
110
fungi foraging trees cooking food preservation
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Question. why heat them at all? What is the point.

In this thread Fast fruiting wine caps! There are a couple of posters with them in Alaska and at least one of them is totally unprotected and fruiting. I think you might just be adding extra work where it isn't needed.
 
Eric Hanson
pollinator
Posts: 751
Location: Southern Illinois
140
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Skand,

My thoughts on heating was a way to mitigate the effects of the extreme cold the OP is likely to incur.  I was not trying to suggest that this approach would generate significant amounts of heat, just enough so that the insulation has some heat to hold it, otherwise the insulation serves no real put.  The OP is trying to get a bit of ground heat and that is good.  A bit more generated over a long time will be even better.

Eric
 
Gordon Haverland
Posts: 398
Location: Dawson Creek, BC, Canada
30
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Eric Hanson wrote:Gordon,

I congratulate you on beginning an ambitious project in challenging conditions and remaining undaunted.  I am trying to wrap my head around all the details of your plan, but unless I am mistaken, you are trying to insulate your pile enough so that your stropharia don’t freeze to death over winter.  

snip

Eric



What I am doing is more like passive heating, than insulating.  If the wood chips were saturated with water, the thermal resistance to heat flow of the mushroom box would not be much different than the bare soil around it.  So the heat flow through that area would be about the same as that experienced in the bare soil.  And one would expect frost to form in the ground to levels similar to that in the surrounding soil.

The presence of the insulation should result in more heat flowing through the area of the mushroom box.  More heat means higher temperatures.  If I put insulation on top of the mushrooms, it would restrict air flow, which I don't know is important or not.

I don't have any straw here.  I soon hope to be able to bale hay consistently.

 
Gordon Haverland
Posts: 398
Location: Dawson Creek, BC, Canada
30
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Skandi Rogers wrote:Question. why heat them at all? What is the point.

In this thread Fast fruiting wine caps! There are a couple of posters with them in Alaska and at least one of them is totally unprotected and fruiting. I think you might just be adding extra work where it isn't needed.



It sort of depends where in Alaska they are.  If they are close to the coast, they could be considerably warmer than we are in winter.

 
Gordon Haverland
Posts: 398
Location: Dawson Creek, BC, Canada
30
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We just had 3 or so days of light rain.  While some water did drip through my roof holes to land on the sawdust inside, not enough dripped through to wet the surface.  Maybe I need bigger holes (they are 3/4 inch)?
 
I am going down to the lab. Do NOT let anyone in. Not even this tiny ad:
Heat your home with the twigs that naturally fall of the trees in your yard
http://woodheat.net
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!