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mushrooms in garden: colonized log borders and mushroom compost as growing medium
I have this idea that i cant find anybody else doing (and therefore telling about the pitfalls). What if one were to use inoculated logs as raised bed borders and then fill the bed with more mushroom growing substrate then plant vegetable starts into that?

In my fantasy, perfect world the vegetables would benefit from mycelium's activity and the mushrooms would benefit from the dappled shade of the vegetables. Both need to be watered regularly so one would water vegetable and mushrooms with the same stroke.

If i fill the bed in with soil, will that promote too much competition? I would be using alder logs (thin bark). I imagine i would have to use logs that are already well colonized. Would that make a difference?

If i fill in the bed exclusively with mushroom substrate do I have to worry about making substrate too deep and promoting anaerobic contamination? I read in Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms that when they do vertical columns, there is a limit to how wide the columns can be before the core becomes anaerobic. Im talking at least 1 foot tall beds here. We have poor drainage.

After fruiting, can i put more substrate on top to "feed" the mycelium with? I think i remember someone telling me this wouldn't work but then i read Staments saying he "recharges" a patch of mushrooms in his yard with grass clippings.

Why have i never herd anyone promoting the practice of feeding mushrooms to animals and then using their spore-laden feces as pre-innoculated substrate or even spawn? Seems like the feces woudl be thoroughly inoculated before anything else had the chance. im sure there are other spores on the food they eat but this has to be more controlled than slinging spore broth on unpasturized spawn, and that sometimes works, right?

It is my understanding that button mushrooms are grown on leached manure that is heated through hot composting alone. Has anyone done this? Does paturization and leeching of ammonia need to be done seperatly or can it be done in one step? (making a liquid fertilizer in the process).

I can't see any reason to use any fertilizer besides urine (aside from whatever nutrients happen to be in the compost) but would it damage the mycellium? After all, manure has to be leeched before it can be used to grow secondary decomposers, right?

Staments promotes bunker spawn (burlap sacks full of substrate) I dont recall him mentioning how much spawn needs to be used to inoculate these.

Lost of people who are growing indoors use a casing. It is my understanding that this casing must be something with no nutrition so that anything landing on top of it is unable to grow through it and contaminate the substrate underneath. Am i likely to be successful if i use dry straw for this? It has nutrients, but if t isn't wet then nothing will be able to grow on it, right? Perhaps an effective way to let the mycelium establish itself before putting in starts (which need water).



(1 like)
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.
Although John has already done an excellent job of answering your questions, I thought I might add a little story. (I don't know if it's true or not.)
Years ago I heard rumors that celebrated Oregon author and farmer Ken Kesey would feed a certain type of blue-staining mushroom to the cattle on his farm. Late in the summer, the desired mushrooms would pop up in his pasture next to the cowpies. I'm not sure what the cows thought about this method of cultivation. According to some recent studies, truffle spores definitely germinate after passing through an animal's gut- in fact, that's how they spread their spores around.
I've used pre-soaked straw for years as a casing layer, especially for King Stropharia on wood chip beds. The straw actually works better than peat moss and is way cheaper. I get it for free at the stables- the manure and urine in the straw help feed the mycelium and make the mushrooms bigger.


 
M.K. Dorje Jr. wrote:
I've used pre-soaked straw for years as a casing layer, especially for King Stropharia on wood chip beds. The straw actually works better than peat moss and is way cheaper. I get it for free at the stables- the manure and urine in the straw help feed the mycelium and make the mushrooms bigger.

Years ago I heard rumors that celebrated Oregon author and farmer Ken Kesey would feed a certain type of blue-staining mushroom to the cattle on his farm. Late in the summer, the desired mushrooms would pop up in his pasture next to the cowpies. I'm not sure what the cows thought about this method of cultivation.




Really appreciat the feedback. Doubly so since your speaking from experience!

Let me make sure i understand this. You are using fresh stable bedding as casing? You are even soaking it before using? Does the soaking help to leech out some of the ammonia or does King Stropharia not mind the extra nitrogen?

I'll bet those were some happy cows! Now that i think of it, i wonder what a cow experiences when it eats "blue staining" mushrooms... hmmm
 
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.

Just to throw in my own experimentations here. I am using oyster mushroom alder logs as the bed borders for raised beds I have cooking which are about 50 % soil, 30 % wood chips and 20 % char with a mulch of straw on top. The logs borders have yielded oyster fruiting and there is definitely white rot going on in the beds.
 
Landon Sunrich wrote:Just to throw in my own experimentations here. I am using oyster mushroom alder logs as the bed borders for raised beds I have cooking which are about 50 % soil, 30 % wood chips and 20 % char with a mulch of straw on top. The logs borders have yielded oyster fruiting and there is definitely white rot going on in the beds.


I dont know why the thought of incorporating wood chips into the soil mix never occurred to me. I've mostly been thinking about putting substrate on top of the soil itself. I'll bet you have saprophytes growing right out of your garden bed soil, mulch or not! I imagine that, since i've heard saprophytes usually have 3 relatively productive years on wood chips, one would have to contend with nitrogen deficiency in the soil. Still waiting for someone to weigh in on wether or not urine will antagonize mycellial growth. If "not" then urine could be a really good way around this problem. If so, maybe blood meal (or blood if you raise animals or hunt) could compensate for the hungry wood chips sucking up soil nitrogen. Perhaps one could also grow: peas, beans, carrots or cover crops that grow better in low nitrogen soil then have some awesome, humus packed soil for the next rotation.

That gives me another idea. Maybe rather than trying to maintain ALL beds with saprophytes in the same year, it could be part of ones crop rotation ie: one rotation is carrots and beans/saprophyte followed by cover crops (with saprophytes still at work since the second year will have higher yields (correct me if i'm wrong), followed by potato polyculture with secondary decomposer fungi-innoculated compost on top with MORE compost added for "hilling" the potatoes. The possibilities are endless! Then again, maybe i'll get slapped by reality once i finally get my hands in the dirt.
my beds are bordered by oyster inoculated oak logs. the beds them selves are mulched with oak leaf, wheat straw, palm fronds, grass clippings and pine straw.. (i.e. any organic matter i find for free that is chemically unmolested)

when pulling out weeds (invasive runners, dropping roots & rhizomes) I've noticed that the mycelial network has spread through out the entire garden.

i don't know if it's the oyster mycelium or not but fungal decomposition is definitely going on in my beds.. which was the ultimate goal.

i have yet to see a mushroom fruiting anywhere in the garden so, i can't even begin to identify them.

there's plenty of decomposers running around in and around the logs as well. Wood lice, worms, slugs, ants.. and plenty of lizards and other predators around to keep them in check.
I don't think the idea in the OP is really viable since plants need more nutrients than wood chips or straw can provide. You could try planting them in the soil below the bed though. Mushroom farmer here. My spent straw logs ended up being mulch for our vegtable garden this year. It works quite well keeping weeds down and moisture in. When it rained we got some mushrooms. Also, a lot of frogs started showing up when we mulched. Oyster mushrooms eat nematodes. I plan on sheet mulching with spent sawdust blocks this fall, along with wood chips and spent straw logs. Though, I've heard straw logs can be fed to cattle and sawdust blocks to chickens.
 
drake schutt wrote:I don't think the idea in the OP is really viable since plants need more nutrients than wood chips or straw can provide. You could try planting them in the soil below the bed though. Mushroom farmer here.


Allright! We've got an expert in the house!

I'm sure your right that wood chips and straw wont provide enough nutrients but is there any reason that I can't fertilize as well so that the plants can thrive?
It's in the permaculture playing cards. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/cards


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