• 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 skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com pie forums private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Anne Miller
  • Pearl Sutton
  • r ranson
  • paul wheaton
stewards:
  • Leigh Tate
  • jordan barton
  • Greg Martin
master gardeners:
  • Carla Burke
  • John F Dean
  • Jay Angler
  • Nancy Reading
gardeners:
  • Beau Davidson
  • thomas rubino
  • L. Johnson

composting wood chips with chicken litter and fungi

 
Posts: 45
Location: Virginia
36
2
kids forest garden books bee wood heat homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Ok, so it is "done". I have to go back out and take a final photo and I think I may add more straw in the morning. I am really hoping we get some rain as it is so hot.
So, in looking back change number 1 i think i would make going if i had the choice, dont build, innoculate, or start a mushroom bed when it is mid 90's out. I watered, and watered, and watered that thing. But the chips were already hot (and steaming) when they were in the pile and that heat dried out any watering attempts. We will see how the blewits survive. The things is, this is when I was blessed with chips, so this is when we put in the bed. There was already a ton of fungi spread happening especially where there were any leaves matted together.  I'm glad I didnt wait any longer. But, it is hot (I know this is relative, as areas on the West Coast have had record highs this summer) . Rain was forecast for today but hasnt materialized. Maybe by Friday. The whole bed would benefit tremendously from a good slow soaking.
Change number 2, I will probably put logs around this bed. I wont care if these rot out, as this is mostly a soil growing bed, but if I am really ambitious I may collect rocks from around the yard and line it with rocks, I just like the look of big logs holding it all in nicely.
And 3rd change would be to do this all on rainy days or when rain is scheduled for many days in a row.
I dug holes and trenches, put spawn in watered, added straw and woodchips. I only did one layer in the holes and trenches. I did spawn the entire bed after layer one of woodchips and layer one of straw. Roughly 4ish lbs of spawn between the two "coats" Then added trenches after layer 2 of woodchips. I probably put just under 1 lbs of spawn in the holes and trenches.Then I spawned the entire top of layer 2 of woodchips. 5 lbs worth. Then I spread 8 bales of straw on the entire bed.  I only put 2 bales in layer 1 of straw. So it is definitely thicker on top. Thanks for your support and encouragement. Fingers crossed that i can start on the veggie garden beds next week. When i do, you know I will be back with pics.
Liz
20210810_154326.jpg
Trenches with straw topping
Trenches with straw topping
20210810_154322.jpg
Some trenches before straw
Some trenches before straw
 
gardener
Posts: 4752
Location: Southern Illinois
1078
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Liz, it looks great!  And timing aside, everything you did sounds textbook perfect.  

Unfortunately, yeah, you are right that this time of year is probably the worst for actually sowing the types of mushrooms we want to actually use.  I live in Southern Illinois, and my climate is much like yours--hot, humid summers.

At this point, I can only think of 3 pointers.

1)  Water!  I know this is obvious, but keep that bed moist.  The good news is that all that straw you put down will do a great job at regulating moisture.

2)  Shade.  Is there any way you can add shade to the bed?  Just a thought, but it would keep the sun off and help keep water in.

3)  Patience!  This was the hardest part for me to learn.  I kept thinking I had failed, but I just needed to wait longer.


This has been a great project.  When do you see yourself starting on your Wine Cap and Oyster beds?

Eric
 
Liz Weber
Posts: 45
Location: Virginia
36
2
kids forest garden books bee wood heat homestead
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Eric,
This has been a great project! I had written a long reply earlier but didnt submit it and now I dont know where it went, so I will write another one...
1. I water it everyday, usually twice a day. I'm out there super early and am glad my neighbor isnt up and out yet. Some might think it a little strange to see me watering/growing soil. We got maybe a 1/4" rain today but more is forecast this weekend.
2.  I'm attaching a picture I took around 2pm. The bed gets a good amount of shade throughout the day. The trees around/in it are large persimmons maybe 30'+ tall. And the shade moves around so I dont think any part of the bed gets full sun all day.
3. Ah, patience, it's a tricky thing, isn't it. I'm glad I put the blewits here, because I really do just want to grow soil in this location, so if it takes 3 years, then so be it. I will continue to make sure it has plenty of water and I will wait.
My husband and I picked up some of the cinderblocks today. We still need more but I think we can probably start on the winecap/veggie garden sometime in the next week or two. The oyster bed will require clearing out some prickly bushes and other yard trimmings. But maybe by mid Soetember I can have that ground prepped.
It was fun doing this bed, even with limited prior experience I still felt like this project was within my pay-grade.  It definitely helped having you and Jay to bounce ideas off of and get encouragement from. I hope my pictures (and having this forum active) will help others take the plunge on growing mushrooms in woodchips.
20210811_141536.jpg
All done, so purdy
All done, so purdy
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 4752
Location: Southern Illinois
1078
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Liz,

Yeah, patience is the tricky thing isn’t it!  But really, you grabbed this project with both hands and never let go.  I think your bed looks great and I am glad to hear the bed gets that good shade just as the heat of the day hits.  

And I think that you are undertaking this project for all the right reasons—growing soil as well as growing mushrooms.  I am so curious as to what this bed produces down the road.

Also, I am thankful that you can get something useful out of this long-running thread.  Like you I was craving any type of help early in my fungal journey.  And while I still have a long ways to go, I am happy to help someone to get started.  That’s kinda the purpose behind Permies in general and this thread in particular—to have a place full of resources and to be able to bounce around ideas.

And again, you are really off to a great start.  I am sure that the experience you gained building this bed will help tremendously as you build your Wine Cap bed and then your Oyster bed.  We live in similar climates so I am really interested in how this works out for you.  I have a bed right now that hosts a large pile of wood chips.  I want to move most of the chips, inoculate with Oysters and plant asparagus.  I have been told that Oysters are even more ravenous than Wine Caps so I am eager to see how they compare to Wine Caps and it will be fun to compare experiences.

Congratulations on getting this bed up and going!  I eagerly await the beginning of your next bed.

Eric
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 4752
Location: Southern Illinois
1078
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
So I have not updated in about a month.  My tomatoes finally started ripening and this weekend I plan to go out and harvest whatever I can from my tomato plants.  After I do I will check closely to see how the wine caps fungi spread over the summer.  I intentionally buried some straw on top of spawn, all under wood chips, cardboard and more wood chips and cardboard.  Specifically I want to see if the fungi propagated along the straw paths I laid out.

This summer, however, was not all that conducive to growing mushrooms.  In addition to being hot, we had a prolonged dry spell—I don’t quite know if it qualifies as a drought but it got plenty dry.  My personal metric for drought is it begins on the 3rd week of high temperatures and no appreciable rain.  It seems that it takes 3 weeks for things to dry out for us.  We had a number of 3 week dry spells followed by a little bit of rain.

Nonetheless the tomato plants grew nice and big and I did not water them at all.  I am hopeful that the area by the root zone had enough moisture to foster fungal growth.  I know that I won’t find any actual mushrooms, but I will dig in and check on the subsurface fungal growth just to get an idea of how well it survived and grew during the summer.  I basically have not touched it since inoculation earlier this summer.

We shall see,

Eric
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 4752
Location: Southern Illinois
1078
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Likes 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
9/27/2021

Just because I felt like it, two days ago (Saturday afternoon) I went out to my tomato garden bed which got freshly inoculated with Wine Cap spawn this spring.  I was curious as to how much spawn had grown.  I have done absolutely NOTHING to help it along over the summer.  I did not add a layer of straw to the top.  I added in no additional water.  The only water the bed has had was that which fell as rain.  I did incorporate a bit of straw into the initial sowing, but that was then watered, covered with cardboard and more chips and then watered again.  Since that point back in early June, I added no water and it has been a hot, dry summer.

At any rate, I went out, picked a couple of tomatoes, but first had to work my way through some tall weed grasses that shot up.  I did absolutely no weeding over summer, partly because I don't like weeding and partially because of what I found.  When I pulled out my first mass or grass roots, the roots were filled to overflowing with white strands of fungal hyphae.  The hyphae was intricately wrapped around the grass roots.  I suspected this was going to be the case.  I imagine that the root zone had the most moisture and therefore the best conditions for fungi to grow (I am assuming it is Wine Cap fungi).  Not every place I looked had white strands of fungi, but the zones near plant roots certainly did, especially the root masses that were the most difficult to pull out--These were also the largest root masses.

I did include a couple of pictures just to show how much the fungi grew around the root zone.  I did not specifically check the tomato roots as they are still growing (and look green and vibrant and have lots of tomatoes). But I am sure that those root masses have just as many if not more fungal strands in them as the grass root masses.

One other note:  I mentioned that I did use some straw.  I did not use a full square bale so I left the remaining square bale just sitting in an empty patch of the garden.  I checked and the chips near the base were loaded with fungi.  Actually, the bale was sitting in another bed (also Wine Cap inoculated) for months prior to use.  When I lifted it from the surface, I heard an definite audible RIP as the bale pulled up.  It turns out that while sitting, fungi from below the bale worked its way into the bale.  There was actually a perfectly rectangular patch of white where the fungi had torn loose.  I am curious to see how that bale will look this fall when temperatures drop and rains come this fall.

I added in these two pictures just to give an idea of how much the fungi had spread.  Take a good look at the root masses in both images, but also look at the mass of white/gray in the bottom left of the second picture.

Eric
IMG_6125.JPG
Mycelium in root mass
Mycelium in root mass
IMG_6127.JPG
Look at all that fungi wrapped around plant roots!!
Look at all that fungi wrapped around plant roots!!
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 4752
Location: Southern Illinois
1078
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
So I am contemplating adding more mushroom species to my garden beds.  I have two options ahead.  

My first thought was to start a new bed for asparagus and inoculate with oyster mushrooms, specifically a variety called PoHu mushrooms that was recommended to me by field and forest.

The second option just became available to me and that is in the form of a big freshly cut stump I got from my neighbor.  I think it is Oak, but as it is just a stump it is a little hard to tell.  On the stump my plan is to drill and pound in some plug spawn.

However I just contacted field and forest and they told me that oysters are not as aggressive as I had thought and don’t particularly like oak in the first place.  For the stump I was suggested Turkey Tail and I may go this route.

I also inquired about my plan to make a raised chip bed for asparagus that would also be inoculated with oysters only to be told that the oysters probably would not grow well in a bed condition.  I was told that oysters are among the most aggressive when growing in a tree (not an oak) or a freshly cut log.  Also, their ability to rapidly break down straw in containers is due to the straw or other medium being sterilized first.

So this is all surprising to me as it counters virtually everything I have heard about oyster mushrooms up to this point.  Apparently in garden bed conditions Wine Caps are probably the best to let run wild and really break down the bedding.

At this point I might try some oysters over the winter in 5 gallon buckets, but I will probably plant my asparagus bed with Wine Caps.  

I will update as I go.

Eric
 
master gardener
Posts: 7837
Location: Pacific Wet Coast
3744
duck books chicken cooking food preservation ungarbage
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Eric Hanson wrote:

So this is all surprising to me as it counters virtually everything I have heard about oyster mushrooms up to this point.  

I recall Paul Stamet growing oyster mushrooms in wood chips over top of contaminated soil to break down the hydrocarbons. Maybe what they mean is that they're so aggressive that you can't expect other plants to co-exist? Or that they wouldn't like being disturbed by you doing planting in the wood chips - which wouldn't be a problem with a perennial like asparagus. Would the oyster mushroom decide to decompose the asparagus roots instead of playing nice?

If it's not too expensive, you could always make a fairly small wood-chip asparagus bed and see if they're right or wrong? You've got me curious and I don't have enough spare wood chips to experiment with myself, although I've certainly got some asparagus that's desperate to be transplanted! I started it from the berries in a barrel with other plants in it because the berries were there... now they're blocking the light - duh!
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 4752
Location: Southern Illinois
1078
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Jay, I still want to experiment and I might just make a 4x4 experimental bed just to see what happens.  I was also thinking about just laying down a couple of bales of straw and inoculating just to see what happens.

I have heard many say that oysters are highly aggressive, possibly even more so than Wine Caps.  This may be true but possibly the oysters are more picky about location, substrate, etc. where Wine Caps thrive on neglect.

This is really piquing my interest.

Thanks Jay!

Eric
 
gardener
Posts: 2351
Location: Ladakh, Indian Himalayas at 10,500 feet, zone 5
669
trees food preservation solar greening the desert
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I've been reading and rereading this thread from time to time, scheming how I might get some wine cap spawn to increase the compost in my absolutely barren soil. An additional possible benefit comes to mind, and I guess nobody knows this for sure yet, but what do you think?

The tomatoes I grew in one corner of my garden for two years suffered from a wilt, maybe fusarium. I think it's a fungus in soil. I wonder if growing tomatoes in fertile holes in a wine cap bed would help by displacing other fungi from access to the tomato roots.
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 4752
Location: Southern Illinois
1078
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Rebecca,

That is a really great question.  Thus far I have had no problems with fusarium, but that includes a lot of time before I was ever using wood chips and wine caps.  

But it does stand to reason that the wine caps would push out any other fungal strain.  Maybe more specifically, the Wine Caps help the tomatoes grow so much healthier that they can stand up to fusarium.

At any rate I would say give it a try and let us know.

Eric
 
Posts: 27
Location: GA Piedmont
3
fungi foraging medical herbs
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Eric Hanson wrote:7/17/2021


One of the placed that had the dense mycelium just pushed up a nice, dense colony of actual mushrooms--in July!  And they did not look at all like a Wine Cap though they were fairly large mushrooms at about 4 inches across (just eyeballing here).  I quickly checked here at Permies for help, did an internet search, purchased a mushroom ID app for my phone and eventually narrowed the list to 3 possibilities.  The first two were related species, and basically harmless and edible (but not exactly culinary quality) while the third variety was called the Destroying Angel!  Its toxin is the same found in the Death Cap!  Yikes!
...

Eric



Eric,

That is Pluteus petasatus. Edible, but not that great.
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 4752
Location: Southern Illinois
1078
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks Miriam!

That is what my mushroom app was suggesting, but nice to have some confirmation.

The app said that while the mushrooms are technically edible, they don’t exactly taste great and the texture is worse.

Eric
 
Miriam Johnson
Posts: 27
Location: GA Piedmont
3
fungi foraging medical herbs
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I've eaten them. I mean I wouldn't say they were *bad*. They'd probably be alright as a flavoring agent to a salad if you diced em or something. The texture and overall consistency is what's not that great, the gills kind of have a...sawdust texture? I don't know, I've never eaten sawdust.

Nothing to write home about, regardless.

On a topical note (sorry, I'm new here, let me know if these needs its own thread):

I've been using blewits and wine caps for my wood chips and leaf litter. I was picking up loads of mulch from the transit station to improve the soil of the whole yard, but I eventually just got a local tree company to dump like a 7 feet pile of mulch...figured it'd be good mushroom food! Plus who doesn't love good mushroom compost?
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 4752
Location: Southern Illinois
1078
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Miriam,

You sound like you have quite a project with your mushrooms and more importantly, you sound like you have a lot of experience.  I am really just a lucky beginner but if you have more experience or suggestions, I would love to hear your input.  Additionally, 7’ of wood chips sounds like quite a lot.  Do you have any pictures of your mushrooms and/or chips you might want to add?  It might make quite an addition to this thread.

Eric
 
pioneer
Posts: 63
38
homeschooling kids fungi foraging urban food preservation fiber arts medical herbs homestead ungarbage
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
What a great thread! I’m excited to give it a go. Just ordered some wine cap spawn (and some oyster, but that’s for coffee grounds buckets inside). I’ve got a ton of maple chips, and I’m planning 2 beds for this year—one in a nice shady spot where the current soil is super dense with roots, and one in a sunnier spot where I hope to get some tomatoes going this season with Eric’s fertile hole method.

A couple of questions for the group:

1) Timing. I’m not doing anything immediately because my chips are a chips-sicle, but is there an advantage to laying and innoculating the beds in a Feb thaw vs at pea-planting time (March) or vice versa?

2) Straw. It’s been an absolute nightmare getting straw here for pretty much the whole pandemic. I do have some in use as deep mulch that I could maybe repurpose, but I’m not sure if partial decomposition would be a problem? Otherwise, for most purposes I’ve been substituting shredded maple leaves or cardboard. Either of these sound worth a try?
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 4752
Location: Southern Illinois
1078
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Louise and welcome to Permies.

Congratulations on jumping into the mushroom madness!

I would love to help you out but first I need a little information from you first.  Specifically I need to know your approximate location.  Certainly not your address but rather your general region and climate.  The reason I mention is that I would advise against sowing spawn too early when the chips are too cold.  Certainly you don’t want the chips frozen, but you already knew that.  For my purposes. I would sow in late March or early April, and I live in a fairly warm climate—Southern Illinois.  If you live in a warmer climate, maybe February would work.

Also, I am about to amend my instructions a bit. Basically I have found that I tend to over-supply my projects with chips and a thinner layer of chips may be better.  At this point I would use about 6 inches of chips as Wine Caps like to have a good soil interface.  Also I used bagged manure for my fertile holes and that manure likely helped add in some helpful bacteria.  Even better would be to add in a good dose of compost which will be loaded with bacteria.

These are minor changes but I am always trying to tweak my projects for optimal results.  Incidentally, my best mushroom-producing area last year was by my comfrey plants.  I shoveled in some spawn from a garden bed into the chips that mulch the comfrey plants.  This mulch layer was only about 3-4” deep and the new spawn really got active.  In short order I had mushrooms that I was not expecting in such a short time.

At any rate, welcome again and if you want any more pointers or just general information about what makes mushrooms happy, feel free to ask.

Eric
 
Louise Berns
pioneer
Posts: 63
38
homeschooling kids fungi foraging urban food preservation fiber arts medical herbs homestead ungarbage
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Eric, thanks so much for your insights! I imagine it would be helpful to know a little bit about climate. I’m in RI, zone 6b, in a small warm pocket but nothing extreme. Last frost is reliably the first week in April. Based on your experience, it sounds like I should set up mid or late March.

I’m planning on using a mix of my own compost and some composted manure from my local beef farmer for my fertile holes.

Fascinating about the comfrey! I wonder if the thinner layer contributed.
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 4752
Location: Southern Illinois
1078
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Louise,

I, too, am in 6b so those dates sound about correct.  Wine Caps do like the soil interface so I think the thinner layer helped.

Eric
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 4752
Location: Southern Illinois
1078
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
2/4/22

So if you made it this far through the thread, you must be a dedicated reader or very interested in mushrooms or both.  Even though I updated the first post, I will add in another post here with a link to a new thread that contains a whole list of links to other mushroom related threads.

If you are interested, try HERE:
https://permies.com/t/174807/Wine-Cap-Growing-Central-great

I don't want this thread to disappear as it has become very productive due to all the added input from numerous Permies.  Please feel free to add to this conversation.  But I did include a link in the new thread for a revised Step-by-Step set of instructions and the new thread serves as sort of a clearing house for a whole lot of other threads so please feel free to check out that page as well.

I will continue to add to this thread as I consider it the main thread documenting my experience and so many others have documented their experiences that I really want this conversation to continue.  And while we have all grown as mushroom cultivators, this thread is more of a train-of-thought format.  The linked thread is intended to be more organized, making more fungal knowledge and experience to be more easily accessed.  

But again, I will continue to make this the main thread.

Happy mushroom madness!

Eric
 
Posts: 4
Location: Oregon, USA
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
So much good information.  In arid regions my guess is that I should cover the compost and fungi with plastic in order to retain moisture.  
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 4752
Location: Southern Illinois
1078
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi C.  Glad you found the thread helpful.

Did you see my detailed set of instructions?  

https://permies.com/t/174814/Step-Step-Instructions-Growing-Wine

This gives the basics of how I grow Wine Caps.  But if you are in an arid area (mine is very, very humid) then protecting from evaporation is critical.  If you use plastic, that is fine but I would want to remove and re-cover every day or two.  The Wine Caps need oxygen so giving them a fresh breath every now and then could be helpful.  

This would also be a good time to feel for moisture in the chips.  The chips should feel about like a wet towel that has been wrung dry, meaning damp but not wet.  I have smothered my fungi in the past by covering with cardboard trying to retain moisture—and I retained waaay too much moisture, as in the chips were soaking wet and the Wine Caps did almost nothing.

So maybe consider the cardboard?  Add water occasionally?  Use plastic?  The choice is yours, just do allow oxygen and as you surmised, keep the chips moist.

Good luck!

Eric
 
C. Tupper
Posts: 4
Location: Oregon, USA
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks for taking the time to reply back with the additional advice and that link.
 
Jay Angler
master gardener
Posts: 7837
Location: Pacific Wet Coast
3744
duck books chicken cooking food preservation ungarbage
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
So Eric, here's a new question for you. Will wine caps or any other mushroom, grown on cedar sawdust? I know that regular growies aren't going to like it. There are cedar decomposers on my land - every other tree in the forest almost is cedar, although many are dead due to weather weirding.  However, my neighbor's been sawing cedar on his small mill and has a surplus.
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 4752
Location: Southern Illinois
1078
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hmmm, really good question Jay.

So I will try to answer from what little I know about cedar and extrapolate from there.

First off, I believe the main issue is the sap in the cedar and aging the chips may help.  Do you have any idea how long the chips have been setting?  If you could get a few aged chips, some of the sap may have dried out.

Second idea:  try to mix anything i that would be a truly good Wine Cap food.  Do you have any non-coniferous, scrubby brush that could be cut and added?  That would help.  If not, I would try to get ahold of some straw.  Wine Caps just LOVE straw.  Maybe you could mix a 2-3 bales of straw into the cedar mix.  The straw would act like fungal-fire accelerant.  Almost like adding gas to a pile of wood before lighting.  

But do save some straw to make little 12”x12”x6”deep holes of pure straw to make fungal hotspot.  In fact, make several and connect them with little straw trenches.  The idea is to make fungal hotspots that communicate with each other and then spread out in to the rest of the cedar-straw mix.  And again of course, cover with a 2-4” layer of straw and wet down.

I suspect this method will grow Wine Cap fungus and maybe even mushrooms.  The real question is whether it will decompose those cedar chips.  For help there you can add the following:

1). Blackstrap molasses to ad sugars the Wine Caps will like.

2) Benificial microbes.  Try getting some milk that is about to sour.  Then cook rice slightly deprived of water and under cooked.  Add in about equal amount of spoiled milk.  The result is a good mushroom food.  It is loaded with the bacteria we want, carbs the Wine Caps need and is all stabilized.  Dr. RedHawk suggested this to me much earlier in this thread. I suspect that instant mashed potatoes, oatmeal or flour would accomplish the same but I haven’t tried that yet.

In the end, I would baby that Wine Cap substrate as much as possible.  I can’t really predict results but I think this is worth a shot.  This would be a great use for all that sawdust just laying around.

Jay, I have thrown a lot at you.  Please take or leave what you think is appropriate.  If I can help future, feel free to ask.

Eric
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 4752
Location: Southern Illinois
1078
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
A wood chip update:

I just got done planting in a wood chip garden bed that I had neglected for at least 2 years.  It was an 8'x16' 10" raised bed that had been filled up with mostly wood chips till it flowed over the top.  I had inoculated it with Wine Caps but other that that I pretty much neglected it, only harvesting a small amount of food from it over the years.  In the summer of 2020 I even went so far as to drop potatoes on the surface of the Wine Cap infused surface and then cover with a very thick layer of wood chips thinking that the potatoes would grow up and shade the chips which would break down under the assault of the Wine Caps.  The end results were disappointing--only a few, small potatoes and no actual mushrooms.  To add insult, the garden bed got infused with stinkhorn mushrooms.  I assumed my Wine Cap plan failed.

I am thinking now that I added too much wood without sufficient soil contact for the Wine Caps to do their job.  I did check throughout the year and sure enough, there was a lot of white mycelium growing throughout the wood chips, but the only mushrooms were not Wine Caps.  I was stumped and a little put off.

But yesterday, my daughter and I planted in the bed anyways and I was thoroughly surprised.  This neglected bed that had gone fallow over the previous year barely had any wood chips--they had all broken down to beautiful, rich, dark, black, loamy soil!  I had a single piece of cardboard that I needed to remove and amazingly, beneath that cardboard was a perfect rectangle of mostly undecomposed wood chips.  Obviously, the fungi had been at work but had done their job best in places where roots could get contact as well.  I may still use cardboard to smother out weeds in the future but I don't think I will leave it on over the whole year.  I am thinking that it was all the cardboard that I used in another wood chip bed that inhibited the growth of the Wine Cap fungi.  It simply did not decompose as I had expected.  But in the areas without a cardboard covering and lots of plant growth, the wood chips are simply gone--leaving behind garden soil which was after all, the original purpose of this experiment.

Going forwards, I will still use wood chips in my garden beds, but perhaps only adding in 6" at a time instead of the 12" as I had done earlier.  And while I may use cardboard, it will be to temporarily smother weeds but not be a permanent fixture in the garden.  I may experiment with cover crops so as to encourage root growth and to smother undesirables.  I will also use straw as a topper for the wood chips to help them from drying out.  It is possible that the cardboard led to anaerobic conditions that inhibited the Wine Caps from really spreading like they should have.  Straw should not lead to these same conditions.

So to finish of this post, I am optimistic about this one, neglected garden bed.  I may even add a few wood chips to the top of the bed once the plants really take off.  I still have another bed that did not do as well as I expected it to do, but I really used the cardboard on that one so we will see what the conditions are like there.

As always, I will keep this thread updated.

Eric
 
Jay Angler
master gardener
Posts: 7837
Location: Pacific Wet Coast
3744
duck books chicken cooking food preservation ungarbage
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Eric Hanson wrote:

And while I may use cardboard, it will be to temporarily smother weeds but not be a permanent fixture in the garden.  I may experiment with cover crops so as to encourage root growth and to smother undesirables.

The more I watch my garden, the more I agree - cardboard or some other light blocking material is great to smother plants you really don't want, but as soon as they're dead or knocked back, planting something - anything - that will out-compete them seems to be really important. Something low and broad-leafed would help to shade the soil and conserve water (or at least use the water to grow biomass instead of it just evaporating). Something that's easy to chop and drop. Something that you wont regret 2 years from now!  Many "cover crops" use grass-like things, but this is permies and we're allowed to think outside the box. A friend planted cabbages in her 4'x6' raised bed one year and 4 cabbages pretty much took over the whole bed. Last year I planted one in an oversized pot. I planted 1 cabbage and some short season bush beans. The cabbage took over when the cool weather came and the beans were done anyway. The pot was filled with punky wood surrounded by duck-shit contaminated wood chips topped with some finished compost.
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 4752
Location: Southern Illinois
1078
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Jay,
 
You mentioned chop n drop and I have all these comfrey plants growing right next to my garden.  This might have a new use very soon!

Eric
 
Jay Angler
master gardener
Posts: 7837
Location: Pacific Wet Coast
3744
duck books chicken cooking food preservation ungarbage
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Eric Hanson wrote:Jay,
 
You mentioned chop n drop and I have all these comfrey plants growing right next to my garden.  This might have a new use very soon!

Comfrey was exactly one of my thoughts - the only downside is that comfrey can be invasive in some areas - very difficult to get *all* the roots out if you know longer want it in a specific location. That said, if chops soooo... easily, that I have difficulty believing that there aren't permaculture ways to exhaust those roots if you need them gone. It just might be a multi-season or even multi-year process using a mixture of cardboard and chopping.
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 4752
Location: Southern Illinois
1078
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Jay,

I currently have 6 comfrey plants growing near my garden beds solely for chop n drop.  At present they were planted about 2’ away from the beds and have not invaded the beds, staying in nice, tight clumps.  

Every year the chips get topped off with a fresh layer of wood chips that get inoculated with wine caps.  I do manage to harvest a few mushrooms from the shade of these plants.  Additionally, every spring I give the comfrey plants a good dose of vitamin “P” which seems to accumulate over the years as the comfrey gets larger earlier each spring.  Mine are already needing to be chopped down.

I may expand my comfrey.  I have the room and it seems like I may be using it more often than before.

One finale note:  my raised garden beds were made with 2x10 lumber and I noticed that the wood is under severe attack from insects and I may be forced to reform the beds with cinder blocks in the near future.

Eric
 
Posts: 413
14
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

From what I can see, you have too much direct sunlight for wine caps and its drying out your garden bed. Try a different area with more indirect sunlight and the wine caps shiuld have no problem out-colonizing the stinkhorn and other fungi. Also try these-

https://www.fieldforest.net/product/wine-cap-stropharia-rugoso-annulata-sawdust-spawn/wine-cap-mushroom-spawn
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 4752
Location: Southern Illinois
1078
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
William,

Actually, Field & Forest is where I get my mushrooms.  

As to the too sunny/drying out, this is a semi-intentional part of my mushroom and gardening plan.  If you read all the way through my posts (and I know there are a LOT of them), I have my garden beds doing double-duty as both a mushroom bed but also as a veggie bed in the same year.  Really, I am growing Stropharia to break down wood chips to feed my plants.

I selected tomatoes as my 1st crop to use with wine caps because they would cast plenty of shade—dappled shade specifically as wine caps actually like just a bit of sunlight, they are weirdo’s that way.  And that crop worked like gangbusters!  I got tons of actual mushrooms which to me are a secondary, tasty bonus as the wood chip compost is my primary concern.  And I got that in huge amounts this spring.

Thanks for the observations and advice,

Eric
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 4752
Location: Southern Illinois
1078
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
6/25/2022

Garden bed update:

I last reported on this bed left fallow from the previous year back in early May.  Leaving a garage bed deliberately go fallow may be a mistake as I am finding now.  One effect of letting the bed go fallow was an abundance of weeds so I am having to work around those this year to a degree that I have not done in some time.  Some of the weeds—grasses mostly—I can pull easily enough.  Others seem to spring eternally and have little thorns—Ouch!  I certainly don’t have every weed, but between smothering, pulling, cutting (with hedge cutters!) and low moisture, most of the weeds are under control.

Now regarding the condition of the actual mushroom/fungus/compost part of the bed, I wish things were better.  We are in the beginnings of a drought and I just got done watering this morning—the first time irrigating in 10 years!  The compost is pretty dried up right now so it will take some time to get it moist to the point that it readily accept water—almost like a dry sponge.  I will probably be doing twice-daily watering for the next few days just to get the moisture levels back up to acceptable levels.

In terms of crops, things are pretty simple this year.  I am only growing yellow neck squash, cucumbers (which only just went in) and tomatoes.  The tomatoes, sadly, are replants as the first were eaten down by deer before I could get a fence up.  The tomatoes have struggled a little bit in the high heat and drought but should pull through.  The cucumbers are the very last to go out and sadly got planted in the driest of conditions and wilted before getting a good watering and springing back.  The squash does not care about heat or drought and maybe even seems to like it.

Under the squash leaves where some degree of moisture remains thanks to abundant shade, I have seen some occasional fungal fuzz.  It will be interesting to see what comes of this fuzz, if anything.

So the short of it is that while the bed is finally up and planted it is extremely hot and dry.  This year will be a good test to see how well the bed does during drought conditions.

Eric
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 4752
Location: Southern Illinois
1078
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
6/27/2022

Update:

Yesterday our drought broke.  Thunderstorms started about 5:00 am and gently continued till about 11:30 am after which the day was generally gray and the temperatures were in the lower 70s.  It was a perfect day for getting moisture to my rain-starved garden bed.

I checked on the bed this morning at about 10:30 am with the temperatures again in the 70s and the skies bright and sunny—perfect for growing!  I checked specifically on my cucumbers and they look like they have had a little growth burst but are just a touch light green and look like they could use some nitrogen.  

I had been adding some vitamin “P” into a Kitty litter container yesterday so today I filled with water and took it out to fertilize.  As I was pouring on the fertilizer I was a bit surprised by how fast the liquid ran through the chips.  The chips were much, much wetter than two days ago to be certain but we’re still not soaked to the point that they really want to readily accept more water.  I clearly need to water some more.  It is on the road to recovery, but it has a ways to go.  

Maybe worse was the conditions of the bit of potting mix that came with the cucumbers.  It took me some time between buying the cucumbers in little pots and getting them in the ground (I needed to build a trellis).  I watered the cucumbers in their pots daily but the plants may have become somewhat root bound.  Now that the plants are in the ground, hopefully they will root out quickly.

As far as getting Wine Caps re-established, if things work out I might try to get some new spawn this Fall and add it to the bed under some straw and see if I can get a fairly quick crop of mushrooms growing in some straw placed on top of the chips, hopefully reconstituting the bed again.

Eric
 
Jay Angler
master gardener
Posts: 7837
Location: Pacific Wet Coast
3744
duck books chicken cooking food preservation ungarbage
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Eric Hanson wrote:As far as getting Wine Caps re-established, if things work out I might try to get some new spawn this Fall and add it to the bed under some straw and see if I can get a fairly quick crop of mushrooms growing in some straw placed on top of the chips, hopefully reconstituting the bed again.


Do you think the Wine Caps actually died, or are they just hibernating? Do you figure the process will just happen faster if you jump-start it with fresh spawn?
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 4752
Location: Southern Illinois
1078
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks for the question Jay!  I am pretty certain that the fungi is just hibernating, kinda sitting in time out.  But I am pretty certain that it also ran out of food in the first place, thus the reason I want to add in the straw—sorta like a quick fungal sugar snack.  But at the moment it is just sitting dormant due to lack of food and water.

Eric
 
today's feeble attempt to support the empire
The Garden Master Course - Full Video - Kickstarter
https://permies.com/t/190216/Garden-Master-Full-Video-Kickstarter
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic