John Elliott wrote:So many question, Dan!
Mushroom spores do remain viable when they pass through an animal's gut. Evolution has kind of seen to that. But for every one pass a spore might take through a mammal's gut, it probably takes 10 or 20 trips through an earthworm's gut, a bess bettle's gut, a lizard's gut, a toad's gut, or any other critter lower on the evolutionary scale. The further back in evolutionary time you go, the more dirt (and spores) the critter ingests and passes through its gut.
One thing you have to keep in mind is that fungi don't come out to play in high nitrogen environments. A fresh cow patty in a field is a bonanza for the dung beetles and bacteria, but it takes time, after the nitrogen rush has subsided for the fungi to appear. Meadow mushrooms wait a few months, breaking all the lignin and cellulose in the cow patty down before they are ready to produce a flush of new spore bodies. A pile of new grass clippings is a quick boost of nitrogen and it will get the bacteria going, but the real growth in the fungal population will occur after there has been a bacterial population explosion and die-off.
To keep a mushroom bed going, you need to emulate an old growth forest -- keep dropping more organic material on top of an already thick bed. Sure, fall is the time when the bed gets built up quickly, but other food falls during the rest of the year: dead branches during winter storms, flower petals in the spring, green leaves torn off by animals or wind in the summer, and bird droppings are pretty constant throughout the year. Bottom line is, you can always feed your mycelium by tossing more substrate on top.
I always look foreword to your replies, John! You have a colorful way of explaining everything.