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Area required for fungi self-sufficiency?

 
Robin Hones
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I am totally ignorant about growing fungi, but I am designing a permaculture site for myself and want to allow for growing mushrooms as food (not intending for medicinals at this stage) to supply a hungry family of four with, say, three different types of mushrooms. I dont have the resources to have anything but a rudimentary setup in the house, so this needs to be primarily an outdoor system. I am in Western WA.

If the questions below are already answered somewhere could you point me there?

Some questions:
1. Is it feasible to have a harvest in continuous process such that I dont have to buy from the store, or am I going to have barren periods in the year?
2. What land area do I need to set aside for this project?
3. Are there any prerequisites for this land (I am hoping the answer is no,you can just tuck it under a shrub/tree layer..)?

Thanks in advance for any pointers
 
Jennifer Smith
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Location: Zone 5
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I don't have the answers but hope someone does. I also would like to set up an outdoor fungi space. Anyone recommend a good book?
 
Morgan Morrigan
Posts: 1400
Location: Verde Valley, AZ.
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Start at fungi perfecti, and move from there.

The big ground stuff is not nearly as tasty as the wooden log grown stuff.
Would order a couple bags from FP, and get the kids involved in growing them, and then start ordering plugs.
If you rotate logs in the corners of the house, you can get a pretty good flow going to them, so you will have some in winter too.

If you are going to go heavy into it, you will need to build a laminar air flow box, and a sterilizer, at the very minimum.

Timers and water purification are other basics that need to be mastered too.

Bags just take spray bottles.....

http://www.fungi.com/

http://glowmushroom.com/
 
chris glazier
Posts: 11
Location: noth western michigan, petoskey
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Im just starting my mushroom patches/logs this year as well. 1- you can dry any excess so that you will have some during the winter time. (I didnt check where you lived at) 2 you dont need a whole lot of land though I guess I dont know exactly how much you do need. You can stack your logs into a cabin type stack so many would fit in a few feet actually. Some cultures it does say to bury the logs part way horizontally though. 3- you are correct, you can shade the logs in most anyway you need to, under bushes and backsides of buildings ect. Hope this helps you to say go for it. fungi perfecti is were I got my cultures this year. there is a wisconsin based company that was suggested to me also with some colder area mushrooms called field and forest I believe it was. They have a good review from a friend who does grow already.

certain mushrooms will grow on logs and others will grow on straw or woodchips ect so you need to study a little bit. FP has that info next to their strains and the other place does too.
 
John Elliott
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Let me take a stab at these....

1. Is it feasible to have a harvest in continuous process such that I dont have to buy from the store, or am I going to have barren periods in the year?


If you set up like a commercial mushroom farm, like the caves in Pennsylvania, you can have continuous production 365 days a year. If you keep the temperature and humidity constant (light doesn't matter) and bring in new media and inoculate it regularly, you can get consistent results.

2. What land area do I need to set aside for this project?


Land isn't the limiting factor, in commercial production, boxes of media are stacked with just enough vertical separation to have some air flow.

3. Are there any prerequisites for this land (I am hoping the answer is no,you can just tuck it under a shrub/tree layer..)?


You could tuck it into a cave. These boxes of Agaricus campestris that you can buy mail order, they will produce 2 or 3 good flushes in a basement or a crawl space before they are spent.

Let me add that traditionally, mushrooms are a fall food. In the wilds of Northern Europe, fall was the time when all the plant life was getting ready to shut down for the winter and the fungi would sense the coming scarcity of food and send out fruiting bodies (mushrooms). People would collect during this season of surplus and then dry them for use in winter and spring, the barren periods. When you get further south, into Mediterranean climes, it's less about cold winter and more about the rainy season (Oct.-Mar.). There, you could look for a flush of mushrooms after a heavy rain.

Western WA is an excellent location for this endeavor (very rainy) and you might want to consider inoculating with some reliable species that can persist in your environment. I have lots of oaks on my property, and they are pretty reliable for producing wood ear mushrooms on the dead branches in the winter and spring. You may want to do an inventory of your trees and find out which will support varieties of edible mushrooms, and if they are not present, get some and inoculate your trees. But one caution if you like maiitake mushrooms; they are not just saprophytic on oak trees but also pathogenic -- they will kill their host oak tree after a few seasons on it.
 
David Hartley
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Just how far west in Washington will determine the easy of it: temp and humidity being the factors...

Year-round production?: yes; if you make your own substrates: pearl oysters 6~9 months out of the year and blue oysters 3~6 months out of the year, depending on your outside temp variations throughout the year... Shiitake will highly depend on the strain(s) you work with and your temps...

I would suggest making your own substrate as well as inoculating hardwood logs (Red Alder, Madrone, Myrtle, TanOak, WhiteOak, Poplar, etc). The log production will act as bumper crops with minimal upkeep)...

Your biggest nemesis will most likely be fungus gnats Create a "coldframe" with a solid roof and screened sides, for your substrate blocks


Locate a commercial firewood supplier for free hardwood chainsaw chips


For more detailed questions, check out Myco-Tek.org
 
Landon Sunrich
pollinator
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Location: Western Washington
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Hello - I'm also in western washington. I do some cultivation but mostly over the last decade I have been wildcrafting mushrooms in the puget trough and olympic peninsula.

I don't know what your property and setup is like but my opinion would be that unless you want to put in a fair amount of effort and expense you are probably going to have a period with no fresh mushrooms during your year. December through march just don't produce the edibles. Now that said many mushrooms are good dried and pickled so vegetarian protein through the year is totally possible.

Lets talk about mushrooms there fruiting seasons and the area required to produce a good many of them. Here's my thoughts, opinions, and observations on a few native species based on principles of minimizing infrastructure and maintenance and maximizing observation and interaction.

Oysters - Spring into summer (fall flushes possible)

Oysters are the most recognized and widely suited mushroom for production in the PNW. They grow everywhere and you don't have to do anything to them to make them work. One good sized alder snag, well colonized, will produce approximately infinite mushrooms. Seriously these guys are prolific - for the amount of alder found in a cord of wood you'll get as many as you can eat and way more on top of that - if anyone in your area processes and sells firewood give um a call and tell them you want to buy bucked unsplit alder - the thicker the better. Oyster mushrooms are pretty damn good pickled with garlic

Morels - Spring into summer

These guys are fickle. Generally I only find one or two of them popping up in isolation on this side of the cascades. I have not successfully grown this species yet - but I also haven't really tried. Try them out! I've seen burns with pounds and pounds and pounds in them - but as a cultivated species they're more likely to be a treat than a staple food source. Morels dry beautifully

Prince Aggaricus - Summer

These are my favorite summer mushroom! They're similar to portabella's except where portabellas are deep and earthy in flavor the Prince is light and floral. They smell like sweet almonds. I don't know of anyone who has isolated a strain of these for cultivation - which is a shame. But you can go and find them - they grow all over the place. I've noticed them in semi-disturbed land, in close proximity to conifers, 50-80% sun (not total shade), and I have a sneaking suspicion that goat/horse/cow manure stimulates growth - but that's an just an Idea I've been playing with the last couple weeks - so take it with a grain of salt. I have however successfully transplanted these onto my property where they have been happily growing for several years. I plopped them down along a grass/conifer border next to a pile of mulch and wood rounds. south west sun exposure. Its only a like a 5x5 patch but I get something like like 3 meals a week for 4 out of 6 weeks out of them.

Fairy Ring mushrooms - Summer

These little guys are great! If you have a grass lawn I'd say there's a good chance you'll find these guys if you pay attention for a few years. The best spot I've seen was at a farm I worked on near the edge of our fields - so perhaps they respond to fertilization or lime as both definitely were sloshed over that part of the lawn - They're tasty and pop out at a time when most edibles are busy digesting and surging but the yield isn't that high - in a 40x40 lawn I was finding like 9 or 10 good rings (2 ft plus diameter) which yielded two times for about 2 weeks each time. Quite Tasty. Best sauteed fresh

Chicken of the woods - Summer

Not my favorite but you can find them all through august so they can't be all bad. Easy to order through know distributors. Likes large Hemlocks and fruits prolifically on them. Likes a good misting. I've only really grilled and sauteed them but you could probably pickle them as well


Chantrels - Summer to Fall

Chantrels. Oh my. So these are famous for being impossible to cultivate - That doesn't mean its not worth trying if you have the trees for it ! - Chantrels come out WAY earlier than most would thing IF they have the rain for it. First week of July when the rain/sun is right. I've water patches with good success - though interestingly these same patches DID NOT fruit when the early fall rains came and everyone else was in prime time. Decent Pickled

Shaggy Mane - early to mid Fall

These guys are SO PROLIFIC - I think I see them more than just about any mushroom in my area. And they grown everywhere. 20x60 feet is enough for me. And I swear if you simmer them with onions and poor off the broth (to drink!) you will feel better and more healthful then you ever have in your life. They love tall grasses. I think you can order spawn for these guys. Downside - they don't preserve well. But I feel they are an integral part of fall feasting.


Elven Night Saddles - mid fall

I see these along compacted and disturbed soils amidst conifers. So along roads through wooded areas, foot paths, deer paths, et cetera. They dry really well. Very similar to morels in that way. Great for throwing in soups by the time midwinter comes around. They bio-accumulate though so you wouldn't want to EAT the ones near roads - but you could grab some habitat and transplant them - its something I'm thinking of. I would think a gravel/sand/woodland soil mix in two 5x8 frames would be a good starting point for a sizable crop (several dried gallons). I'm going to try to get two 30 gallon tubs of these going this fall as an experiment

Cyanescens- mid fall

Beware these native hardwood decomposers! They spread everywhere all on there own! There's no stopping them! Even a 5x5 area of wood chips will attract enough of these dangerous pesky fungi to make the entire family (including the dog) have dangerous frightening out of body hallucinations throughout the year.


Shaggy Parisol - mid to late Fall

These are another one that just goes nuts as soon as it starts to rain. Grows well in mixed shrub/forest. Ive seen this in conifer/alder Alder/Salmon berry even straight Ceder/Redwood. I find them more often near trails driveways and other margins. I don't know if this is due to light or compaction - my gut is saying light -as in they like filtered light better than a full dense conifer canopy. I have a feeling these would be perfect for use in a traditional food forest (here I think Robert Hart). Hardier than shaggies but I doubt they would preserve well.

I would wildly speculate that you could get about 40% coverage on an acre of food forest. I think they'd move and cycle naturally, but I can't see more than 25-40 percent actively fruiting any given season - I could be wrong here I haven't tried it yet. I still have more of a savanna grassland/raging wilderness.
Using that wild assertions I would say 2 to 6 people could get 100% of there protein for +/- 5 weeks of the year.

Smokey Wood-lover - mid to late fall

These are one of the densest fruiting mushroom I know of. I see them fruiting on bucked logs along wooded trails all fall. They seem to favor hemlock. I just started eating these guys last year due to the tricky ID. They dissolve into a sticky spore goo - but I'm pretty sure they could be dried effectively. I'm definitely putting a couple logs of these in the wilderness part of my property this fall. I think 4x 18 inch diameter x 4ft log rounds of these could feed 2-4 or more people all the mushrooms they could eat for 4 to 6 weeks in November.

Hedge Hogs - Mid fall to early winter

I'm kinda obsessed with these guys. They grow in thick coniferous second grown - places where its so thick with trees that there's no real ground cover other than downed needles. I've walked through 40 acres of dense second or third growth forest (45 - 85 years old?) where 30 acres of it was covered with these beauties. I'd find one 12x12 patch, look up, and see another 15 feet away with another 6x6 patch in between them.

It's a good thing no-one was with me - they would have got good and kissed. As it was I threw my hat to the ground and danced a jig atop it whilst yelling "gold! gold!". totally serious.

It was a pretty monotonous forest. Brown and gold. I'm personally trying to recreate a patch on about 80x80 feet where I feel conditions are similar enough to be steered into an acceptable environment. I think that managed properly (a gradual process) I could yield 10 to 25 pounds a season. They keep fruiting until a true deep killing freeze - I've seen them on solstice - so these mushrooms are a blessing - they help make the best stuffing you can imagine. My method for transplant will be a combination soil transplant and spore slurry on the early end of the fall fruiting season.



I bet you with some clever stacking in time and space one could be eating mushrooms all year every year on as little as an acre.
I hope that helps. I believe all of these mushrooms could be cultivated successfully here in the north west - possibly even on one site. I hope to find out - so lets keep swapping notes!
 
Uwe Wiedemann
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Landon Sunrich wrote: December through march just don't produce the edibles.

Oysters - Spring into summer (fall flushes possible)


There are two cultivated mushrooms that grow especially in winter, Flammulina velutipes (velvet shank, Enokitake) and the gray oyster mushroom Pleurotus ostreatus. If you inoculate logs or trees with them, there will be a harvest each winter for several years. They grow in milder temperatures and can withstand deep frost, too. Winter is the natural fruiting period for these two. Here, Flammulina appears in late November and lasts until January. I have mostly seen the gray oyster in January and February and it can also grow on living trees without harming them too much.
 
Uwe Wiedemann
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Btw, Landon, your list is so interesting. Every single one of these mushrooms grows here in Europe too... Maybe strains with a bit different behavior, but fungi seem to be global...
 
Robin Hones
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A big thanks to all who have helped "lift the fog".

I see a copy of Mycelium Running in my future.

Gratefully

R
 
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