So the few books I've read about mycology suggest that log cultivation probably isn't economically sustainable... Thought I'd check wit the experts here at permies, either way I'll try some for personal use but had hoped to some day make it a business after learning the basics.
Location: west marin, bay area california. sandy loam, well drained, acidic soil and lots of shade
posted 6 years ago
I recently got a copy of Farming the Woods and in that book it talks a lot about people making quiet a big profit growing mushrooms in logs. I have not done it yet (have my plugs and wax and am planning to start friday!) but that book sure makes it sound possible to make plenty of profit using logs.
That's really strange that that was what you've read because log cultivation is actually the norm for most mushroom farming operations. You do get the most bang for your buck using logs because they are very nutrient dense compared to straw or some other substrate that you might use in a growbag. If you have land with a good supply of timber, it's even better since you don't have to pay for wood. on the other hand, you usually have to wait a year or two before they'll fruit, depending on which species you're growing (and not all species are suitable for log culture), but they should also fruit for a good 4-6 years once they do start from what I've heard.
Mushrooms really aren't too hard though, to be honest and log culture isn't the only good way to grow them. You can get all high tech and isolate strains using agar which is fun but not really necessary unless you're going for very specific traits. You can just as easily pour a spore slurry of oysters or king stropharia over some wood chips and keep them moist and you'll probably get nice sized flushes. If you have chickens or goats or some other type of animal, you can plant stropharia near where they are kept and they will clean up a lot of the bacteria that is in the animal feces and you'll also get mushrooms out of it. Basically you can inoculate any wooded/mulched path in your garden with some type of mushroom or another, and as long as it's kept moist and shaded there's a good chance you'll get mushrooms. They're seriously underutilized in permaculture, honestly. They're easy, fast, fun, they are great remediators, many form beneficial associations with plants (elm oysters do well in gardens, especially with brassicas), and they're really good to eat.
posted 6 years ago
Awesome I was thinking that they should fit in but as I mentioned the text I had read made it sound like you need a laboratory to be successful. Thanks!
posted 6 years ago
Matthew Sargent wrote:Awesome I was thinking that they should fit in but as I mentioned the text I had read made it sound like you need a laboratory to be successful. Thanks!
Lab type stuff is really fun, but by no means necessary. Low tech methods are easy and effective, you just have to basically use high inoculation rates to help the fungus out-compete other things that might want to live on the substrate.
I have read that it is really cost effective for someone with acreage to supplement their income, especially if they want a cheap source of their own shiitake, etc. For most it is not a lucrative income, but you do get a higher price for shiitakes, for example from logs than from bags. It's kind of fun and cool too, unlike many kinds of work.
Matthew Sargent wrote:So the few books I've read about mycology suggest that log cultivation probably isn't economically sustainable... Thought I'd check wit the experts here at permies, either way I'll try some for personal use but had hoped to some day make it a business after learning the basics.
I have not read much at all about mushroom cultivation, currently reading Farming the Forest and I've listened to some of Stamets' lectures and interviews, so very limited in my knowledge
Considering how many bolts Farming the Forest says you need in order to make a substantial (primary?) income growing shitake, I can see where there might be some valid concerns about the sustainability of the process.
Consider that they recommend logs at least 5 inches in diameter. A given mushroom growing bolt (the log) will produce for, say five years on average? Pretty sure it takes more than five years to grow an oak tree with a trunk at least 5 inches in diameter, or branches of that size (the mushroom does not care if it was a trunk or a big branch).
So, if you need a thousand four foot long sections five inches in diameter to be producing enough shitake for a primary income, and you need to replace them every five years... I think that might fail a sustainability test.
Otoh, say you were going with a hundred bolts, which is enough to produce a significant income stream, but definitely a supplement rather than a primary income. You might be able, with a modest sized woodlot, to replace these bolts every five years with trees that you were taking out as part of a forest management program. At some scale, your thinning the forest is a productive management technique that improves the stand, and produces a by product of mushroom bolts that generate income from what otherwise might have had its best use as firewood.
So, is it realistic to think that we could provide for all the market demand for shitake with log grown mushrooms and keep it sustainable? I have my doubts - but sawdust isn't any better, that stuff is still coming from trees
I find myself generally coming to the conclusion that making any practice sustainable probably has a great deal to do with keeping the practice at an appropriate scale and distribution.
Diego Footer on Permaculture Based Homesteads - from the Eat Your Dirt Summit