Win a copy of The School Garden Curriculum this week in the Kids forum!
  • 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 experiences global resources the cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • r ranson
  • paul wheaton
  • Anne Miller
  • Mike Jay
stewards:
  • Jocelyn Campbell
  • Burra Maluca
  • Devaka Cooray
garden masters:
  • Dave Burton
  • James Freyr
  • Mike Barkley
gardeners:
  • Joylynn Hardesty
  • Greg Martin
  • Pearl Sutton

Dale's series of permaculture business ideas --- 1. Stump removal through mushroom cultivation  RSS feed

 
gardener
Posts: 7897
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
573
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I regularly have ideas for small businesses that could be created through putting permaculture knowledge to work. Some have already worked for me, and some are ideas that have not yet been marketed. I've chosen to do this first one on tree stumps because it relates to my part time business of tree service and it addresses a desire to help another member who is looking for something that does not require any dangerous equipment.

Stump removal through mushroom cultivation
--- Most of us have heard of growing shitake mushrooms on hardwood logs. It's a skill that is easily learned. Check out this video, ---
--- then follow the links. Not rocket science. There are those who grow mushrooms in stacks of nice clean wood and those who stick their logs into moist soil in order to avoid having to water them. A tree stump is like the tip of the iceberg. Root systems typically represent 25% - 30% of the total biomass of the tree. Key nutrients run in the mid 30s as a percentage of the amount in the entire tree. So, stump wood is a little more rich than the wood above ground. Look at the pile of firewood that your tree produced. There's about half that much wood still in the ground. An inoculated stump has an amazing amount of underground wood from which to nourish many crops of mushrooms. Oak logs typically fruit for 5 years. Logs that are only inoculated at one end, grow more in that area than if they were drilled and plugged all over. The mycelium draw nutrient from the whole log. In most areas of the world where hardwoods dominate, the soil is moist enough to carry the stump through many mushroom fruitings with no watering. Inoculate and walk away. --- We're not limited to oak logs or to shitake mushrooms. Shitakes can grow on maple, fruit wood and other hardwoods. Oyster mushrooms can grow on some of these woods. Some mushrooms do best on conifer wood. We will wait to hear from John on this matter.

The business
--- People regularly pay to have large machines brought in to grind stumps. Some use excavators or backhoes to rip them from the ground. At this point they become a disposal problem. Some of the larger machines go out at around $1000 a day. It's a noisy, lawn ripping, diesel burning enterprise. This Carlton grinder is worth about $25,000. It needs a truck and trailer. You could easily spend $50,000 getting set up properly to remove stumps. ---


The mushroom method requires a $20 cordless drill, some wax, a pot and a hammer. $50 is more than enough. I assume that you already have a car or a bike to get you to work. The cost to inoculate a stump is going to be very low. Dowels cost about 5 cents each. A big stump might need 20 for a total of $1 worth of dowels. There's a little wax involved and sometimes a cleaner to make sure that other spores are prevented from taking hold. Budget for $2 per stump.

It will all come down to marketing.
There is no doubt in my mind that I will convince some of my customers to go this route. Many agree to whatever I propose. Stumps could be cut off at ground level, or they could be left 6 feet tall in moist areas. Other wood from the tree could be inoculated and piled or planted like posts. Girdling of the bark at ground level could prevent regrowth. We're not pollarding the tree. When some trunk is left standing, we have a larger fruiting area. I'm not sure exactly how far from the surface we can expect the mycelium to travel. I will consult John Elliot on this. Much of the underground wood is found within 10 feet of the stump. The part a foot underground can be much larger in diameter than the above ground trunk. We should be able to harvest much of the nutrients there.

How will it look
--- When they're fruiting, the logs will look like mushroom trees. I will show all prospective customers photos of vertical mushroom logs and YouTube videos. Stumps at ground level will usually be hidden by taller plantings.

What to charge
--- This could vary widely. I'm going to price things so that I make $30 - $50 per hour for my trouble. Those who let me have the mushrooms will get a better deal. For the customer, this might mean $25 per stump. They should recover this investment several times over in harvested crop value. Grinder companies can't begin to compete with this. The sort of customer who goes for this is going to show and tell others.

As stated above, this one is all about marketing. Given the gift of gab, you should be able to take out your little cordless drill and kick that screaming, spewing diesel monstrosity to the curb. He with the better plan wins.

Work with existing businesses
--- The vast majority of tree pruners, landscapers and lawn guys do not own a big stump grinder. They all have customers who need stumps removed. Cut them in on only a tiny fraction or better yet, give them leads. You're going to meet lots of people who need other work done. Most of these people want to keep their customers happy, but they have no interest in the stump business. Even stump companies could provide some work. Give them leads on customers who you are unable to convince. Cedars, black locust, redwood and other woods are unsuitable for mushroom cultivation. Willow probably won't die. Pass those off to the stump guy.
 
pollinator
Posts: 4339
Location: Anjou ,France
240
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Wonderful idea Dale!
One question since the stumps are still living will the fungi still grow? Normally I assume the logs are dead but here we are talking still living stumps that will grow again given half a chance.

David
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Posts: 7897
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
573
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

David Livingston wrote:Wonderful idea Dale!
One question since the stumps are still living will the fungi still grow? Normally I assume the logs are dead but here we are talking still living stumps that will grow again given half a chance.

David

Girdling spells certain death for the vast majority of trees. Willow and a few others might prove unsuitable. Fresh cut wood has not had a chance for wind blown spores to take hold. Commercial growers use quite fresh logs. Invasion of fungi should hasten the demise of any tree bent on coppicing or otherwise springing to life. Stored sugars feed new growth. Mushrooms consume that sugar. Most trees that I cut down, make no attempt at regrowth. Broad leafed maple and Ghetto maple are exceptions.
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Posts: 7897
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
573
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I talked to John about this and he thinks that it could be quite unpredictable in most areas. My wet season is as regular as the tides. There's a wild mushroom that I can gather every October through December at 5+ lb. per hour. I'll offer customers free cutting at ground level on stumps that don't fruit within a year.

Call backs usually result in more work. Whether I return to cut stumps or to pick mushrooms, it's likely that my saw will be needed for other things.
 
David Livingston
pollinator
Posts: 4339
Location: Anjou ,France
240
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Well I have ten trees to cut so I'm going to give it a go , here on my new site and if it works then see about braching out into a biz

David
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Posts: 7897
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
573
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
If there are any shading bushes, they will help prevent drying of the stump. On those near the house, you might be able to divert roof water to the soil around the stumps. Fungus is very predictable here because of a long wet period with high humidity. Shady places near creeks can have mushroom blooms in the heat of summer. Those above ground shitake operations store their logs in damp spots under trees. Sometimes they plant them like fence posts.

Each of these little logs will produce about $25 to $30 worth of mushrooms before they are done. ---
--- This seems like the perfect business for anyone who has a desire for hugelkultur wood. When logs finish fruiting after a couple years, they can be added to the beds. They may continue to produce once partially buried and the shitake may infect the other wood in the bed, including stuff that is too small for the log method.

When I walk around in the forest, it's obvious that stumps are drawing from a deep resource. The production is much greater for the small amount of exposed wood involved. These wild, non edible ones are drawing food from underground. ---
 
Posts: 31
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
How much time would it take for the stump to be fully consumed ?

Thanks
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Posts: 7897
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
573
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Louis Romain wrote:How much time would it take for the stump to be fully consumed ?

Thanks



That depends on climate and species. I have Douglas Fir stumps that are pretty rotten, but still a stump after 15 years. One that I peed on regularly and covered with compost was pretty rotten after seven years. Hardwood stumps in my wetter areas are done in 2-5 years. It really depends on how moist they are and whether temperatures are conducive to rot.

By introducing fungus and drilling holes, we're speeding up decay. Stumps that are watered decay faster.

I had a few cedar stumps that were about 150 years old. They have notches from the springboards used in hand logging.

I've recently struck a deal to have stumps delivered to the farm in 30 and 40 yard containers. This is for massive hugelkultur beds, but I will try mushrooms and continue on a grand scale if the financial return warrants it. They pay me $120 per 30 yard bin and $160 for a 40 yard bin.
 
Posts: 113
Location: Taylorsville Kentucky
4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
If it takes years to remove stumps through mushroom cultivation I doubt you will have any real business. Most people who want to cut down a tree, or have a tree blown over in a storm, want the stump removed immediately. Not 7 years later. Those guys would be your typical landscapers and home owners etc. Now if everyone was open to sustainable agriculture (which they are not), it might work. However, I think we'll find that most folks want their tree stump removed for aesthetic reasons. A large pile of rotting wood in their yard probably won't fly well. I don't mean to be a negative nancy, I will try this on my farm because I think its great. But making money doing this??? I'm not sure if you could convince many people to do it. At least not until SHTF and everyone needs to feed themselves and grow stuff. lol.
 
pollinator
Posts: 153
11
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I love your post about this.

Question, here in Southern California, there are a lot of Palm trees. Can you make mushrooms on the stumps of Queen Palms or any other palms?

Thanks
Sheri
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Posts: 7897
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
573
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Sheri Menelli wrote:I love your post about this.

Question, here in Southern California, there are a lot of Palm trees. Can you make mushrooms on the stumps of Queen Palms or any other palms?

Thanks
Sheri



Sorry for the delay.

Rotting palms are often covered in mushrooms. I would try oysters or others that don't take forever since palm wood rots rather quickly. Palm is much softer in the core. It might be possible to dump coffee grounds that have been inoculated with mushrooms into hollow trunks.
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Posts: 7897
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
573
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I haven't sold any customers on mushroom cultivation but since this thread was started, I have turned several stumps into planters by hollowing them with the nose of the chainsaw. Customers use them for vegetables and ornamentals. I have a maple stump that I'm going to use for ever bearing strawberries. I'm leaving it tall, so that berries can grow from the sides and top. It may be hard to keep moist.

Few of the stumps from my tree jobs are removed with a stump grinder. It's quite common here for them to be left in place to rot. Some get hidden by bushes or covered in dirt. Most people are happy to have them cut flush with the soil and hollowed out so they rot faster. One family has been quite diligent in regularly disposing of pet poop in the stumps. This rots them fast.
 
passwords must contain 14 characters, a number, punctuation, a small bird, a bit of cheese and a tiny ad.
One million tiny ads for $25
https://permies.com/t/94684/million-tiny-ads
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!