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HUGE pile of woodchips, can I grow edible mushrooms?  RSS feed

 
M Foti
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Location: western n.c.
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I started a thread in the "mulch" forum here... http://www.permies.com/t/29083/mulch/helping-mulch-decompose-faster

I was trying to come up with ways to turn our absolutely ridiculous amount of woodchips into compost faster. I couldn't guess on the cubic yards we have, but lets just say it's as much as a commercial mulch supplier would have on hand with more coming all the time.

A fellow came along and helped me out with a great idea of using mushrooms to help with the process. This sounds like a real win-win. I am somewhat familiar with the THEORY of mushroom growing, but have been hesitant to proceed because I don't want to put time and energy into something that won't produce ALOT of whatever it is I'm doing. I had never thought about our mulch piles though. We live in western north carolina with a temperate climate and LOTS of rainfall. The mulch piles are a mix from a local tree service that we have an exclusive deal with, there is pine and deciduous trees in the piles. It's all mixed up. As far as "greens" go, these were whole living trees and we had a massive overproduction of leaves this year, so we have lots of leaf matter mixed in. The piles are in 100% shade and stay wet all the time.

I will be re-arranging these piles very soon with the use of heavy equipment, so if I'm going to do this, now might be a good time although if the cold coming may adversely affect this, I have no idea. I'm open to any kind of edible mushrooms for this, morels, medicinals, buttons etc...

This isn't a project that I really want to invest alot of capital in, my main goal is to make the wood chips turn into compost quicker, but if I can also get something out of it, awesome...

any and all advice will be appreciated.
 
allen lumley
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M Foli et al : Just for safeties sake - There are old mushroom pickers, and then there are Bold mushroom pickers, There are NO Old Bold Mushroom pickers!
( 'shrooms = 'shroomer / 'shroomies )

Find a local mushroom/mycelium Group, and learn the safe 4 from them, and then try to learn allot about the separate Kingdom we now recognize they are in
and also try to learn about one more safe mushroom a year !

There are usually two peak seasons a spring season with its own cropS of 'shrooms and a fall, up here in Northern New York, Much of the fall season starts in
our Indian summer, and local 'sroomers will tell each other that the Mycelium body waits until there is a couple of good hard frosts to kill the bugs that you
have to beat to the mushroom fruiting bodies which is what the above ground part is -the mycelium's fruit !

If this doesn't apply to you or the next 10 readers it needs to be said for #12 !!! -an Old 'shroomer ! Big AL !
 
M Foti
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Location: western n.c.
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I understand more than most newbies about this. Differences are incredibly deceiving, down to the microscopic level. Thanks for the heads up though!
 
John Elliott
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You might want to consider growing enoki mushrooms. They have been grown on all sorts of particulate media including sawdust, rice bran, coffee grounds, and other agricultural residues. Here is a paper that goes into some detail about the process.
 
M Foti
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very interesting paper john, it seems like that may be something worth looking into as they had decent results without much input. Seems like moisture levels were critical, but that's not surprising. I don't mind throwing a little cash at this experiment (hundreds, not thousands) to see what comes of it... I'll have to research them a little further. Thank you for the great information!

**edit to add**

I started this quest hours ago with the desire to help our mountains of woodchips turn into compost faster, that is still my main goal, but if I can get something else out of it in the process, then I would be on cloud 9
 
M Foti
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Location: western n.c.
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seems like the enoki mushroom can be a pretty cosmetically diverse critter. My only concern is my relative ignorance to mushroom identification and it's tendency to not act right If I were to go this route, would your previous advice apply for my lazy cheap experiment (in reference to inoculating the piles)?

I fully understand that to do this right I'd want to fully delve into the mycology realm, I just want to chuck a few things out there and see what happens. Maybe nothing, maybe something to further investigate. If this can become a profitable venture for us, I would consider more investment of time and money but for now I figure that while I'm doing this anyhow, why not try to get something else out of it... basically, I'm looking at doing just what you advised for getting my piles of chips to decompose, but possibly finding a cultivar that may like that sort of environment. Based on that paper, seems like Enoki may be a prime candidate and I'm not surprised I haven't heard of it before...



 
John Gray
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Hey there, I found this video a while ago about how some woman grew gigantic dinosaur kale out of her pile of wood chips by amending it with rockdust and fungi.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MEkFFRjDkvs

p.s. the presenter is annoying.
 
Tim Malacarne
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Location: South central Illinois, USA
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Here's my 2 cents. IDK about mushrooms, but we did have about 30 loads of wood chips delivered 2 years ago. I never dreamed they'd heat up, yet they did. I was careful to watch and as soon as I could turn them after a rain, I would. Mebbe 4-5 times a year. You know, it's a good idea to turn a working compost pile after a rain too... Anyway, about a week or 10 days ago I moved, oh, 20 P/U loads into our composting area. To this I added 8 or 9 loads of horse manure from a neighbor. Mind you, the chips were still heating, decomposition was under way. I also sprinkled in some granite dust from a tombstone engraving place. "Monument" engraving, excuse me!

So we'll see how it works out, eh? I have turned it 3 times. Turned it this evening in the cool temperature, looked like that sucker was on fire! Steaming like mad. I guess I'll try to measure the temperature sometime... I try to use the 21 Day "Hot" method, because it kills off lots of weed seeds, IMO... I know there are pros and cons vs. a cool method... If you have any animal manure available, you could use it, I think. Would speed things up.

Best, TM
 
M Foti
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thanks to Tim and John, I had thought about putting some animal manure in there, I REALLY need to get my own front end loader asap... Kale is something to definitely think about, that might even have a marketing potential here
 
Florian Kreisky
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I don't think that Flammulina velutipes, the Enoki mushroom, should be your first choice. In nature they don't really grow an small materials, they favour logs of Salix sp. and Populus sp.
It's true that they are grown on substrates with small particles in conventional growing, but this only works because they don't have any competition. They are grown in 100% sterile environments, but in a natural System there are lots of other species that will outrun them, because they are better adapted for this type of substrate.
The same is true for most other of the commercial species, like Oyster, Hericum sp., Pholiota sp., etc.


What you would want is a mushroom that's naturally growing on small plant matter such as Stropharia rugosoannulata, Coprinus comatus or Macrolepiota procera.
You could also try to get some morel spores in the mulch.
 
M Foti
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Florian, I am quite interested in what you're saying here. Of the three that you mentioned, the stropharia rugosoannulata sounds like it might be the choice. My admittedly ignorant eye, thinks these are already growing on our property with some regularity. I understand enough about mushroom identification to know that I don't understand enough about it haha. Sounds like that might be a good choice for an outdoor mushroom...
 
David Hartley
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Stropharia rugosa annulata is an excellent mulch fungus It even thrives from being disturbed! Handles partial shade to full sun and is edible in moderation (mushrooms should always be cooked).
 
M Foti
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David Hartley, can you elaborate on the comment that they are edible in "moderation"? What about them makes them not suitable for often consumption?
 
David Hartley
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Good question. That particular genus causes stomach/digestive issues. But this particular species has very low levels... Pick the mushrooms young, for eating, when still in their "button" form (before the caps open up)... Just don't make them the main course of your meal three times a day for three days
 
M Foti
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thanks for the info!
 
Susanna de Villareal-Quintela
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If you just want mushrooms to speed-up the composting... you won't need to "introduce" them. I am 99% positive you have spores in the chips. If you want mushrooms to sell you may need to sterilize your substrate to kill the spores that are already in your chips.

I get 200-300 cubic yards of wood-chips, annually, from select arborists. I have to work hard not to find mushrooms. The spores are in the wood-chips and will flush all on their own, in copious quantity and variety. To get them to flush... you may need to get the chips through the "burning of the leaf litter" stage and, then, into smaller piles with some soil contact to provide the push for fruiting.

Best of luck,

Susanna
 
John Saltveit
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I want to second David Hartley's suggestion of using King Stropharia/wine cap/garden giant mushrooms. I have a huge bed of them ,and near me, a huge pile of them spontaneously appeared in a neglected wood chip pile. Spawn is cheap. Paul Stamet's Mycelium Running will show you how to do it.
john S
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