I was thinking when we start moving it again to add things in the mix to help it decay faster and turn into composted organic matter. I was thinking animal manure and dirt interlayered in there. Curious if anyone has some idea to help kickstart those enzymes and bacteria into overdrive so it will happen faster. Cheap is a primary factor though. We have access to heavy equipment and dump trucks, so there's no worries about the actual logistics of this project.
Some sort of a liquid I could mix up in 275 gallon water totes and spray onto the piles as they're being heaped up would really be ideal! I just don't really know where to start with this.
Thanks in advance!
With that much material, you don't want to be bothered with the turning necessary to hot compost it. Inoculate it with fungi and let nature do the rest. Is there a nature park near you? This would be a good place to hunt for mushrooms, because the ground is undisturbed. After a good heavy rain, go out with your knapsack or shopping bag and pick up any mushrooms that you can find. Not just on the ground, but on stumps and branches.
When you get back, put your mushrooms in a big bucket of water and use an immersion blender to make mushroom puree. I doubt if you will be able to get it pureed enough to spray through a nozzle, but that doesn't matter, just bail it out onto your piles with a big plastic cup.
If there are any greens at all in the pile, that will be enough nitrogen for the fungi to thrive. If it is completely, 100% dried out and brown, then maybe you might want to add some urine to the pile. But then like 1 quart in 5 gallons of water will be sufficient.
The next thing is the height of the pile. Mushrooms do need air to breathe, so the pile can't be so tall that the material on the bottom is anoxic from all the weight on top of it. If it's piled up more that 5 or 6 feet high, spread it out.
Let me know if you have difficulty finding mushrooms and I'll give you some more tips. They are out there, you just have to know where to look.
There are greens in there, it is basically whole trees that have been removed from their clients yards so leaves, pine needles and all are ground up. I'm sure there is some black walnut in there, which is a bit of a drag, but I can't be too picky with the deal I have, the toxins from black walnut are supposed to dissipate in a couple of years anyhow, so no worries. I am not expecting this to happen overnight, but would rather see it happen in 2-5 years if I can facilitate it. I guess the other plus side is if I planted edible mushrooms, we would have a source for those as well..
I am so glad I asked that here, such a simple solution with several benefits! I've learned a bit about mushroom growing, all theory without any personal practice though. Mainly I wasn't thinking about this properly, I didn't see a large enough area to grow enough mushrooms to be worth it, looks like this may do it all.
thank you again, I think that is a perfect idea!
Is there anything I should be thinking about doing to facilitate the mushrooms? You mentioned urea, I had already thought about using the cleaned out horse/pig/cow slop from a few local semi-organic producers... Now you have me thinking about all sorts of things, morels? hmmm... Morels to grow well in our area, mainly in the woods in leaf litter.
M Foti wrote: I am not expecting this to happen overnight, but would rather see it happen in 2-5 years if I can facilitate it.
Try 2-5 months. I get the occasional load of tree trimmings (mostly oak, and pine, with some sweetgum and other stuff in it) and inoculate it well. If it's dry, I make sure to water the piles, just so they don't dry out too much. In two months, I can dig in a few inches and there is lots and lots of white mycelium, doing its magic.
As far as inoculating it with a crop of edible mushrooms, don't set your goals too high. Especially morels. They are one species that has resisted efforts at cultivation. For a while, they are going to have to remain pleasant surprises to come across while walking in the woods.
Thank you for setting me straight Ken Peavey, I wasn't aware that fungi did most of the work in this type of decomposition.
M Foti wrote:John, I'm not setting any real goals at all other than composting the mulch haha. If I could get shitake, button caps, or something else edible out of it, that would be amazing. So, I should just do as you said in your first comment and hope for some luck? Any thoughts on what type would be my best chance? Button caps, portabella, shitake, mitake? I'm not utterly ignorant about mushrooms, but close to it
Maiitake: this is a parasite of oak trees and is usually found growing at their base. I've tried infecting some of my oaks that I don't want with them in the hopes that I will get some tasty mushrooms while they kill them off, but so far, no dice.
Shiitake: this is commonly grown on hardwood logs, so if you have any hickory stumps, go ahead and give it a try.
Portabello is the same species as your common store variety button mushroom, Agaricus bisporus. No difference except that the white cap button mushrooms are an "albino" mutant of the normally brown cap mushroom. They are cow-shit mushrooms, most commonly found in grassy fields where herbivores have grazed. Commercially they are raised in boxes of sterilized horse or cow manure. Normally they wouldn't grow in wood chips, being outcompeted by other fungi.
The oyster mushroom, Pleurotus ostreatus, is a mushroom that will grow in wood chips and is edible. This is one that paul stamets is fond of using in his mycoremediation work. I haven't had much luck with it here in Georgia. I think it is more of a cool weather mushroom, as Stamets is in the Pacific Northwest, and whenever I have found them, it has been in cooler climates. If you are up in the mountains, you could give it a try, but I have a hunch the Piedmont would still be too warm for them.
What I do have a steady crop of is the wood ear mushroom. It grows best on oak branches that are dead, but haven't fallen off the tree yet. Occasionally, you can find branches that fall from oak trees after a storm that are covered in wood ear fungus. I will throw these in the pile of wood chips, but I don't expect to get flushes of wood ears out of the pile. It is a reminder that when mushroom hunting, you can't always be looking at your feet, you also have to look up, because the choice specimens of this one will be over your head.
I will bet that if you made Two phone calls, to any farmers/Aggie school, and ask about a mushroom or Mycellium club you will be transfered to the guy who knows where the group
You can always try your local public radio station or a farmers market, groups of 'shroomers are good people, learn the safe 4 from the group and then learn one new one a year I
If this does not apply to you it is still worth repeating ! An old 'shroomer ! Big AL
I'm certainly willing to give this a go, might as well try to put something edible on there rather than not... So, by your recommendation oyster mushrooms may be my best chance for this to produce something edible?
Allen, again, I thank you for the heads up, I might be dumb, but I'm not stupid haha. I learned enough about mushroom identification to know that I don't know anything about mushroom identification I'll try to find a local organization that may be into this, but I highly doubt I'm going to find one, we live in an area that is pretty evenly split between artists and full on rednecks, not much in the way of farmers other than cattle ranching. I'm sure there is a Western North Carolina group, but finding one within a reasonable driving distance of us would be a real shocker, that and I'm getting some equipment over here soon to move this stuff around (so I can get my circle drive for the barn back) and would prefer to do this all at one time.
I will be in a little bit of a hurry to do this, if it works, great, if not... meh... I'll just put some wild "whatever it is" mushroom in the piles and forget about eating them, I just think it would be super if I can utilize this for two things. I tend to be very lucky, so it's worth a shot
And see my suggestion on the other thread about enoki mushrooms.
I have thought about hitting up some of the local schools/restaurants for compost, I am friends with one of the local principals of the school so I'm sure I can get a foot in the door that way. Before we go all in like that though, I REALLY need a front end loader to manage all this biomass. Right now I borrow one every month or two to tidy up the piles that the tree guys drop off, but we're adding several 20x100 greenhouses to the operation and I'll need all the compost and dirt I can get to mix our own potting mix. That's why I keep the woodchips coming even though they are a bit of a burden right now, I don't want to miss out on the great relationship we have with this tree service, those guys bring us a dump truck load at least once a week, sometimes several a week. it's actually pretty ridiculous, but I know it'll pay off later and it actually might not be enough!
Sounds like you're on the right track with all that you're doing - please post some pics from time to time so we can keep up. And definitely keep those woodchips coming!
Best of luck to you,
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