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Happy fungus ball

 
Jeremy Bunag
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Location: Central IL
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...sorry, this has nothing to do with balls, but I had to have that as the subject.

I've been thinking about good fungi in my lawn, spurred on by Señor Stamets' site and discussions elsewhere on the site:
http://www.permies.com/bb/index.php?topic=359.0
http://www.permies.com/bb/index.php?topic=1498.0
http://www.permies.com/bb/index.php?topic=1428.0
http://www.permies.com/bb/index.php?topic=1608.0

What I have a wee bit of a problem with is the cost of MycoGrow for lawns.  7 lbs./1000 ft.² @ $20/lb. sucks for any sort of lawn bigger than your footprint. 

What I wonder is if these fungi grow much year to year, like a groundcover would?  The rule of thumb with groundcovers is to screw what the recommended spacing is and put in what you can afford (assuming you can't afford the recommended amount), and it will grow together, eventually.  Can the same be said of these good fungi?  If I introduce them, with they grow to help an area bigger than the application area in the coming years, or are we talking decades?

Curious, curious...

(edit, changed price to correct price after re-looking)
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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I'd be tempted to buy $3 of the MycoGrow™ Micronized Endo/Ecto Seed Mix, treat a pound of grass seed (or anything else you won't mind in your lawn...just enough to bore into the soil next to existing grass roots), and overseed.  But then, I'm a cheapskate. 

I also would bet that soil from the nearest healthy, organic lawn or undisturbed prarie would be enough to innoculate yours with any mycorrhiza it lacks.
 
Jeremy Bunag
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Both very good ideas.  Which brings me to my next question:  How can you tell if you do have some nice fungus working for you?  The presence of mushroomsAny mushrooms?  From what I understand you don't see the good stuff under the ground, just the public sex shows above ground (the mushrooms).

I do see mushrooms in various places from time to time.  Am I good?

Another interesting technique I've heard to cultivate some good fungi is to lay a soaker hose out with the slightest drip for a week or two, rain or shine, then move it over 18-24 inches for another couple of weeks, and so on until you've covered the entire area.  The idea is to foster ideal fungal growing conditions, but not to really be watering a ton.  The soaker "treats" about a dozen inches from it at a time over the weeks.  A guy (on a different board) swears by this, doing this just once when moving into a new place or if it seems you don't see 'shrooms anymore.  He says "It sounds crazy and I wouldn't keep suggesting it if I didn't see it work, but it does!" (or something like that).

That leads to the question:  Does the species of fungus matter, as long as it's not one of the yucky ones (like rust)?
 
paul wheaton
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bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
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First,

I would guess that the fungus is already in your soil. 

Second,

If I were gonna play in this space, I think I would get a small amount and a whole bunch of sawdust.  I would carefully make a big letter M in my lawn with the mycellium covered with a half inch of sawdust.

Then I would make a big letter S with sawdust. 

Then kickback and see what happens. 

 
Jeremy Bunag
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paul wheaton wrote:
Second,

If I were gonna play in this space, I think I would get a small amount and a whole bunch of sawdust.   I would carefully make a big letter M in my lawn with the mycellium covered with a half inch of sawdust.

Then I would make a big letter S with sawdust. 

Then kickback and see what happens. 


My kind of experiment!  If I can get around to it this fall I'll be sure to try it, and take some pics!
 
paul wheaton
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Pics would be excellent!

I would be powerfully tempted to get a lab coat, horn rimmed glasses and a clip board ... but that might not be your style. 

 
jeremiah bailey
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paul wheaton wrote:
Pics would be excellent!

I would be powerfully tempted to get a lab coat, horn rimmed glasses and a clip board ... but that might not be your style. 




Ooh! Ooh! Don't forget the pocket protector! Just the thought of an ink blotch under the pocket of a nice white lab coat would embarrass any proper geek.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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Jeremy Bunag wrote:
How can you tell if you do have some nice fungus working for you? The presence of mushrooms? Any mushrooms?
...
That leads to the question: Does the species of fungus matter, as long as it's not one of the yucky ones (like rust)?


I looked it up.  (Colonization of Soybean by Mycorrhizal Fungi and Spore Populations in Iowa Soils, by S. Khalil and T.E. Loynachan)


Colonization was determined by evaluating the percentage of root segments with VAM fungi. The average colonization of plant roots from all soils was 8%, and the average Bray P1 soil-test value was 60.3 mg kg–1 (values greater than 30.5 are considered by the Iowa State Soil Testing Laboratory to be very high). Abundant colonization was unexpected in these high-P fertility soils because most authors report extensive colonization to occur mainly in plants growing in soils of low fertility. The VAM fungal spores were quite common in all rhizosphere soils sampled and ranged from 66 to 998 spores 100 g–1 soil. Total spore counts were significantly different among soil series (P < 0.001) and within soil series (P < 0.01). A negative correlation (P < 0.05) was found between soil organic matter, P, and VAM fungal colonization.



Sounds like vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi are the type you're interested in:  Translating from Latin, they make little "trees" of tubes that extend down from the roots.  Sounds like some fungi tend to live symbiotically in this vesicular-arbuscular arrangement, most aren't as directly important to plant health, some are harmful...kinda like humans and bacteria.

Translating from Expert-ese: the spores are almost everywhere.  They seem to grow better when the soil is poor: perhaps the roots bribe them with sugar? 

My understanding of how to know: Dig up a chunk of sod, about twice as deep as your roots run but not necessarily very wide.  Brush the soil carefully off some of the roots, and you'll see them if they're there.  Photos exist on Stamets' site and elsewhere on the internet, of what you're looking for.  I guess putting some fungus-chow in the bottom of the hole before the sod goes back on wouldn't hurt.
 
Jeremy Bunag
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Wow, thanks!  I appreciate all the translations!
 
                        
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The way I did it was I put tall fescue grass seed in a bucket, put in a lb of the MycoGrow for lawns in said bucket, and then mixed in compost.  When it was half full, I transferred into a wheel barrel and added more compost till it was majority compost.  Then I laid out on bare patches, stomped on and watered.  It grew amazingly well with little water (because I kept forgetting). 

I'd show pictures except the Bobcat with backhoe attachment took it out, and covered it with rocks, clay and dirt from 7ft down (new drain tile around house).

So my organic lawn is down there under a couple inches.  Sigh.  Time to re-read the how to reseed posts!  But I will do my MycoGrow steps again, at least for parts of the lawn and let it do it's magic over the coming decade.
 
rose macaskie
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I have seen paul wheeton in the sepp holzer lecture and now i want to see him in a scietists suit. agri rose macaskie.
 
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