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Mushroom raising in the dry  RSS feed

 
Isaac Bickford
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Location: Okanogan County, WA
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I would like to raise mushrooms, but am facing the barrier of hot, dry summers. Last year we had highs around 105 F and RH of 5-20%. Growing up in Tucson, I found that a pit fort covered with boards and a thin layer of soil on top stayed cool and humid even on the hottest days. Could this work for raising mushrooms? I'm a total newb, and not sure if there are edible mushroom varieties that can produce fruiting bodies with extremely low light. Any ideas? Are there other strategies for raising mushrooms in the dry that I haven't considered?
 
John Saltveit
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Mushrooms aren't plants and don't need sunlight to grow. Most need shade and too much heat light and dry kills them. I would try to look into what kinds grow in your area. A covered pit sounds like a good idea. Are you in Eastern WA? If so, desert people know about that. We have lots of rain in the winter.
JOhn S
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Joseph Lofthouse
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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I also live in the desert, and am very familiar with 5% to 20% relative humidity. I'm at high altitude in the Rockies. I leave oyster mushroom logs for most of the year in a shady part of the garden that gets irrigated via sprinkler about once a week. The rains and irrigation are not sufficient for proper fruiting. I watch for a few little aborted fruits in the fall, after they have received a cold-shock, and then move the logs into a closed-up non-heated greenhouse. Relative humidity is around 60% to 85% which is sufficient for fruiting.

I feel excited about the idea of an earth-sheltered fruiting chamber... It seems like it would help with humidity and might extend the fall fruiting season.

Mushroom logs incubating for the summer:


Fruiting in the greenhouse:

 
Chris DeBoer
Posts: 30
Location: Boulder, CO
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:
I also live in the desert, and am very familiar with 5% to 20% relative humidity. I'm at high altitude in the Rockies.


Joseph, I'm up in Rifle, CO so semi-arid at 5500'.....I'm just starting off and hoping to bring back some pretty degraded pasture...My plan is to get some good nitrogen fixing perennial cover crop in which will be mostly bacterially dominated at first...after a few years I'll probably put some earthworks in and follow again with cover crop and plant trees in

I'm wondering about sequencing because I want to inoculate everything with the companion mycorrhizae fungi but may need pretty significant shade from the cover crop for the mycelium toe survive and take off.

I've got a lot to learn about how competition with microbes (native and from compost tea) will compete with either my saprophytic or mycorrhizae mycelium and what the best method is to get both established in our climate
I might try experimenting with mulch and cardboard that has been inoculated with the same strain of companion mycelium using the cardboard to cover the mulch

I also hope to feed compost tea via drip irrigation but might delay this until the mycelium is established and its immune system has fully adapted...starting in small quantities.

Any thoughts on my approaches or suggestions?
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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Chris: I don't know much about mushrooms, and even less about mycorrhizae fungi. My general sense of the industry, is that marketeers are just trying to sell us things that already exist in the local ecosystem... I collected local oyster mushrooms from the wild. They have fruited more reliably for me than the commercial strains that were purchased. It seems to me that the local mushrooms require less humidity for fruiting. That is a hugely valuable trait in my arid climate.

It seems to me like mycorrhizae fungi and plants are deeply connected to each other... I speculate that the mycorrhizae are ubiquitous in normally functioning ecosystems, and that the only time their use might prove beneficial is if they are applied to sterile soils: That would be in sterile potting mixes, or in fields that have been damaged by -cides or antibiotics. I feel the same way about rhizobia: I just don't see any benefit from adding something to my plants that already exists in the garden. I have been super thrilled this year about using my local soil as a seed starting media... It seems to work much better than the sterile media I had previously thought was the only way to go.

If you want to inoculate an orchard, I'd recommend getting soil and leaf litter from a local riparian area and dump piles of it here and there around the orchard, or perhaps broadcast it. Some of what you apply will like it's new home. I expect better results from this sort of approach than from buying inoculate: Because any formulation you buy will contain a limited number of species, and the genetic diversity within species will be narrow, and the strains are unlikely to be locally-adapted. The nearby woods aughta contain a wealth of microorganisms of benefit to your new orchard. If the orchard can't support them properly this year, then perhaps next year. Local soil from an overgrown brushy area is easy enough to obtain. I added some logs to my morel mushroom bed. This spring they flowered and produced a gorgeous flush of Turkey Tail mushrooms: Just the thing for making tea for my daughter's condition. I don't understand. I didn't plan for it. The natural world does what it does pretty much regardless of what I think or want...

A place I take care of out in the desert grows a tremendous amount of lichens. I seed it with lichens from other areas. Perhaps some naturally occurring hybrids will arise. Perhaps I'll introduce a bit of genetic diversity. Perhaps a traveling species will feel right at home. Perhaps a changing climate will favor one of the new arrivals. It's not something that I can measure. All I can do it act on the general principle that biodiversity seems to be beneficial, and therefore I can create opportunities for biodiversity.

Lichen conservatory:

 
Chris DeBoer
Posts: 30
Location: Boulder, CO
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Thanks Joseph...

Perhaps fungi have a greater ability for adaptation than I previously gave them credit for. I definitely see the value in drawing upon local species (fungi, microbial, plant or otherwise). My personal belief is that there is very rarely such a thing as "waste" in nature and is much more of a construct of the human mind. Likewise I will be tentative not to draw to heavily on resources from the natural environment and transplant it to my property for personal gain (or the property's). When I do, just enough that my conscious intention and observation can support the procreation of that life or life that provides that nutrient or resource.

I think you would agree and this is not at all assuming that's what you were indicating. It is however a dangerous track that...well...left us where we are today with large inputs from deep cavities of the earth trying in vain to sustain unlimited growth rates.

One of many things I appreciate about permaculture is that it is both an art and a science...based upon ethics. And is a framework that can inform people who tend toward one or the other. For me, I think I'm pretty well balanced

I rather like your appreciation for a diversity of lichens. They seem to have fascinating lessons regarding pattern in nature. And even on how to live together on the same rock...a lesson worthy for us all.

Also, that's AWESOME that you just sprouted some Turkey Tails! I really hope that this powerful medicine brings health and vitality to your whole family!
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