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mushrooms for hugelkultur

 
Matthew McCoul
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I'm putting in a new bedand I'm thinking about inoculating it with edible mushroom spores.

does anyone have experience with this? What kind of mushrooms / fungi are a good idea? Oyster mushrooms? wine caps? shiitake mushrooms? and what should I do to get them to grow there?

I am new to growing mushrooms in general.
 
Roy Hinkley
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Any time I've seen mushrooms done on logs the wood is sealed with wax after inoculation to exclude other spores. I think you should keep your mushroom logs separate from your hugel beds.
 
Jesse D Henderson
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Matthew McCoul wrote:I'm putting in a new bedand I'm thinking about inoculating it with edible mushroom spores.

does anyone have experience with this? What kind of mushrooms / fungi are a good idea? Oyster mushrooms? wine caps? shiitake mushrooms? and what should I do to get them to grow there?

I am new to growing mushrooms in general.


I've had the same question. I just inoculated some shiitake logs for the first time! I'm deciding not to risk contamination with this batch so I'm following the directions and stacking the logs on a pallet in the shade. (There is a method that some people use, however, where they partially bury a log like a stump)
But I have heard of people doing this or doing something similar. For example, this guy I follow on Youtube inoculated carboard with Stropharia and buried it in his garden: Stropharia in the Garden

I would guess that if you are willing to take the chance that some other fungus will out-compete the one you inoculate with, the plus side is that the wood you bury will have broken down faster than it would have otherwise. So your hugul mound would benefit even if your mushrooms fail. Alternatively if you bury the log without inoculating, you're counting on some kind of fungus coming along, and who knows how efficient that random fungus will be at breaking down the wood?

If you experiment with this let me know.
Best,
Jesse
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Most of the time, when mushrooms are added to a mound it is to get the mycelium into the soil for plant benefits not for eating mushrooms, those are actually best done in logs and separated.
all garden plots gain benefits from mycelium inoculation as do fruit orchards, vineyards. The mycelium enter a symbiotic relationship with the plant/tree/vine roots.
While it is probable that these mycelium will fruit, that the fruits will be perfectly fine to eat, it would (to my mind) be far better to let those re-spore the soil for future mycelium growth in the soil.
Plants that grow in mycelium rich soils far out perform those that don't have the benefit of the mycelium.
 
Peter Ellis
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Lots of elements to this question. Typically, the wood going into hugelkultur has already started to break down - it is thoroughly colonized by fungi and not suitable for introducing your own choices into it. So, if you are following the usual path and using older wood for your hugel building, no point in trying to introduce your choice of mushrooms.

But, even if the foundation wood is old stuff, already colonized and decomposing, you may still have the option of doing some mushroom cultivation with your hugel, if you use a heavy layer of woodchip mulch as the top layer. You can innoculate the woodchips with King Stropharia that will happily colonize the woodchips.

So, what if you use fresh cut wood for the underlayer in the hugel? You could innoculate that wood with shitake or oyster spawn, but that wood is going to be buried, right? So not likely to be able to harvest, even if they do flush, because they are buried under your hugelbeet.

Even then, you may have some choices. Lion's Mane and reitake are both commonly farmed on logs that are set vertically and partially buried in the ground, leaving the top section exposed. So it might be possible to innoculate a few logs that you positioned so that they were partially buried in the hugel and partially rising up above.

It is not an area where I have heard anyone talking about their experiments, but there are some options that actually might make sense in the context and are good candidates for some experimentation.
 
Matthew McCoul
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Some good ideas so far.

I have heard several stories about people's beds sprouting fruiting fungi, some edible, but where I heard this escapes me.

Anyone with direct experience in this? I'd like to keep this thread going until we hit at least one "I've done this".

I think it'd be useful to other people searching this in the future.
 
D. Logan
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I would think that if you prep the logs in advance above ground well prior to building the hugel, you could avoid unwanted varieties getting into the mix. Giving something that breaks down hardwoods 18 months or more before fruiting can even begin to happen means you might be able to inoculate with something like Shiitake this year and then build the hugel next year so they have a good head start on anything else. I'm not sure how well they would manage to push through the ground though. If you use a mulch like straw on the top, that could be inoculated with oyster mushrooms pretty easily.

I've honestly not given this one a lot of thought until now, but as fate would have it, I just finished posting about a company whose specializes in fungus as part of my ongoing Monday series right before I saw your post mentioned in the daily email. I am sure several of the varieties from Fungi Perfecti would probably do the job just fine. I'd contact the company with an explanation of what you intend to do and see if they have any varieties that are especially suited to breaking down wood under soil and still fruiting on the surface. They might even know of a variety whose mycelium are known to interact positively with garden plants.
 
Tim Hodge
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I am new here but a source I've found very helpful is "fungi perfecti at http://www.fungi.com". An informed source with a very good knowledge base and customer service.
 
R Scott
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Fungi perfecti is awesome, but so is field and forest products and is closer to the OP climate wise. They may have something better suited to the cold.

I would ask both.
 
Ryan Lenz
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I've only done garden-bed shroom farming one time, and it was mostly a spectacular failure, but if I were going to try it in hugelkultur....

I'd prep a bunch of take the same species of tree that will be buried, and chip a bunch of it. Sterilize and inoculate it (Oysters are usually considered relatively easy), and allow the mycelium to run through it until you have a large quantity (garbage bags) of mycelium-colonized material. Then (timing will be tough here), build your bed and sprinkle the colonized chips throughout it, making sure to get a large quantity of them up against the wood. You might also want to consider adding a few trace ingredients to the hugelkultur bed to enhance fungus health--I believe powdered oyster shell was one of the ingredients?

Seems like the mycelium would stand a relatively good (still probably pretty bad!) chance of spreading throughout the logs.

+1 for fungi perfecti, really cool company. Their catalog is great for toilet reading, if nothing else
 
Mike Schroer
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Last spring I came across a chicken of the woods (Laetiporus Cincinnatis) fruiting from the ground near a live red oak tree. This was in the woods with many other trees around. It was the best mushroom I have ever tasted. I have not been able to find anywhere that sells Laetporus Cincinnatis spores and I am not equipped to start spores. So I took an oak tree that I recently cut down and stood some 4' segments on the ground in that area of the woods. I'm sure it is a long shot but since I had the materials I thought I would give it a try. If these logs were to get inoculated I may try moving a couple to another part of the woods to expand the area. Just waiting for the weather to warm up to see if anything happens in that area this year.
 
Everett Arthur
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Edible mushrooms feed on different substrates, wood, straw, manure, kitchen scraps, etc. A lot of the popular species people grow they grow on logs or woodchips, because they tend to give more reliable, controllable yields. The problem, as was mentioned above, is that a lot of those fungi yield heavily when they monopolize the substrate (wood). The inoculant is then put into bored holes in recently cut logs and covered with wax. This decreases competition with other fungi and maximizes the yield of that single species from the log. Burying the logs in moist dirt filled with mycelia and spores won't provide you with the high percentages of success, control, and predictable, forcible yield.

But there are other species out there.

I don't think you should limit yourself to wood-eating mushrooms. On Paul's Hugel site he has the following picture:


photo from Paul's article here


Note the sod. There are a number of mushroom species that are adapted to growing in field conditions in sod and herbivore excrement (poo), just like there are mushrooms that are adapted to growing in forests on dead and dying trees.

Those cute little white mushrooms that you get from the grocery store, the portobellos, and creminis are all the species Agaricus bisporus. It's a grassland mushroom. A technique for growing the guys in your lawn is to carve out a strip of sod, fold it back, dig out a foot or so of dirt, then fill it in with manure and little bits of grassland native mushrooms, and flop the sod back over it.

I've never tried it, but this could be interesting with the hugel mound. Maybe wood pile, manure on top, mixed with bits of grassland mushrooms, sod over that, with a bit of dirt and planted with covercrop. I'll bet it would work.


as a bonus, I'll bet the manure's nitrogen would be used by the decomposing wood's carbon.


Good luck, great question.
 
D. Logan
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Mike Schroer wrote:Last spring I came across a chicken of the woods (Laetiporus Cincinnatis) fruiting from the ground near a live red oak tree. This was in the woods with many other trees around. It was the best mushroom I have ever tasted. I have not been able to find anywhere that sells Laetporus Cincinnatis spores and I am not equipped to start spores. So I took an oak tree that I recently cut down and stood some 4' segments on the ground in that area of the woods. I'm sure it is a long shot but since I had the materials I thought I would give it a try. If these logs were to get inoculated I may try moving a couple to another part of the woods to expand the area. Just waiting for the weather to warm up to see if anything happens in that area this year.
Fungi Perfecti, mentioned by myself and others already, has a slightly different Chicken of the Woods that you could use. It is Laetiporus conerificola instead of cincinnatis, but probably not far off from your own experience. You might start a new thread to ask around about that particular variation since only the people looking to discuss mushrooms in relation to hugel will be looking into this thread.
 
Eva Taylor
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I've not inoculated my hugel bed, but I have noticed mushrooms on logs extending from the bed, I did surround my hugelbed with wood chips in the hope that I would encourage colonization of mycelium in anticipation of fruit tree planting- hoping to create a connected whole between the trees and the hugel bed. When I dug the holes for the trees this spring I did see mycelium throughout the chips. I agree that if you aren't worried about harvesting shrooms or can positively identify the edibles that this is an invaluable function stack. You just can't lose. The soil I've added the chips to is mostly clay and so rocky you would think that nothing would grow but just 5 months after spreading the chips worms are abundant in the wood chip layer. My experiment continues with Chinese chestnut and Asian pear planted with no amendments.
 
Robert Jordan
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The wonderful sepp holzer has a segment plus a sketch including mushroom growing in straw and on logs planted standing in the ground: Sepp Holzers Permaculture, of 151-153. Hope this helps.
 
Robert Overturf
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I had the thought to try this a couple of years ago with morel mushrooms. At the time I was very inexperienced and had built my hugelkultur all wrong. It was pretty much hollow and too dry. There were lots of wild mushrooms that grew on it before I tore it down, but no morels. I would like to try again one day soon. It's kind of my subtle, slow-rolling mission to establish a methodology for growing morels consistently and in a potentially commercially viable manner.
 
Logan Therrion
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For hugles, it's more the mycelium that's going to be beneficial as it has a symbiotic relationship with plants. You may get some mushrooms caps to appear but it's the mycelium that'll be the most benefit to your hugle. That said, you could just innoculate some wood chip beds around your hugle to get fruiting mushrooms for eating. King Stropharia, Phoenix Oysters (or other varieties of oysters) will work very well for this purpose, presuming you have hard wood chips. If you've got mostly pine wood chips as opposed to hardwood chips, you may want to consider using Cauliflower mushroom spawn as this mushroom will fruit on conifers. That's a great thing for me in North Florida as there is an (over) abundance of pines here.

I'd also be mindful of the temperatures you'll experience in your area. For me, it's too hot here now to continue to grow blue oysters so I've switched to the yellow oysters now that the temps are in the mid 80's. While the last flush of blues are really struggling in the heat, the yellows are absolutely thriving.

Fungi perfecti, those folks are amazing people to talk to. Just call them. They'll give you free tech support even if you don't buy anything. I have many of Stamets books, some of which I've read numerous times.

I recently went to visit Mushroom Mountain, Tradd Cotter's place in SC - two weekends ago, for a mushroom cultivation workshop. It was there I saw the wood chip beds for King Stropharia and the Phoenix oysters, though I've read about them before. And others of course. He also had some outdoor beds with a casing layer for almond portabellas so you could have a whole lot going on mushroom wise, both in your hugle and on top of (near) it. Be aware though that mycelium can travel quite a ways from where you initially put it, so if you're going to try to do many kinds of mushrooms, you may want to give each species a bit of traveling room.
 
Andrea Fly
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Inoculate spores into agar dish. I like agar in petri dishes as it is easy to keep sterile.

Identify strongest looking patch of white strands (this is your Dikaryotic/Rhizomorphic Mycelium).

Isolate the Dikaryotic mycelium (the most thick/layered area). Let that grow out in a sterile enviroment.

Congratulations, you have now isolated the strongest/most vigorous spore combination.



 
Adam Klaus
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When I built my hugelbeds, I sprinkled heavily myceliated biodynamic compost onto the logs before burying. I did this to help improve the wood breakdown and resulting nutrient availability. My biodynamic compost piles have a lot of wood chips or sawdust in them, BD preps (which are innocents themselves), and then I sprinkled mushroom slurry from any native mushrooms I find growing on the farm throughout the year. The result has been excellent mycelial networks running through the soil of my hugelbeds. I believe this must be great for nutrient availability and soil fertility.
 
Chris Sargent
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Great timing for this question. I'm in the middle of creating a hugelkultur bed and I'm capping one side with a mushroom log border.

The area I created the bed has several old stumps and their root mounds have created a raised area one side drops off steeply to an eroded low area. I decided to create a retaining wall from logs to help hold all the hugle material in the bed area. I have lots of fir and spruce trees that I've been trimming out of an area I want to create a forest garden so decided to use those. I bought some spawn plugs for an oyster species that will grow on conifers and I inoculated the logs before I build this wall. I cut the trees about two weeks ago and stacked them in the area until I could finish the project. I inoculated them yesterday and started building the retaining wall. I still have some more logs to add to finish the bed but logs on the back side will be much shorter and I don't think I'll inoculate those.

Pros:
Might get a nice harvest of edible mushrooms. I was building the wall anyway so at most I loose some labor and a handful of spawn plugs.
Adding spawn that might colonize logs and increase huglekulture diversity.

Cons:
Edible spawn might be out competed. The back sides of these logs are in contact with soil and older rotting wood (some of which is 5"+ years old, well rotted, and I'm sure already full of mycelium). I'm hoping the freshly cut logs and heavy hand with inoculating helps counter this.

Here's the log wall under construction...

Here's a peak at what's behind the wall. Huglekultur bed with salmon carcasses, lots of seaweed, old rotting logs, sand, crushed oyster and mussel shells, shrimp bodies, and manure rich chicken bedding. Plus some straw and yard trimmings. This bed is something of a mix between a huglekultur and a lasagna bed. I have pretty much endless access to material from the ocean but almost no soil. So this is an attempt at building some.
 
BeeDee marshall
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Matthew McCoul wrote:Some good ideas so far.

I have heard several stories about people's beds sprouting fruiting fungi, some edible, but where I heard this escapes me.

Anyone with direct experience in this? I'd like to keep this thread going until we hit at least one "I've done this".

I think it'd be useful to other people searching this in the future.


Mushrooms love/need rotting wood, so do huglebeds. We have had experience with beds sprouting fruiting fungi (chicken of the woods and winecap). Both were huglebeds that had lots of rotting wood in them. We also purposefully spawned some cardboard and put it directly under the soil of another hugelbed with good results. We left one huglebed open on the side that got little sun and spawned some oyster mushrooms on the exposed wood. Got lots of oysters from that. It helps that we live in a pretty wet climate (central Vermont), but huglebeds tend to hold water well, so it should work with most huglebeds. To make cardboard spawn we let some mushroom stem buts and rootlike hairs from a winecap sit for 4 months in wet folded cardboard (like a mushroom sandwich) inside a cardboard box with drainage holes, in a shady spot on the ground. Make sure it stays well moistened. (from paul stamets book Mycelium Running pages 140-143). Then we put the spored cardboard in the bed. Here is a picture of a winecap that grew in one of our huglebeds and one of a stump that was inoculated with oyster spore. The oysters had been harvest from our woods and then placed gill side down directly on the rotting stump (happened to be sugar maple). They should continue to refruit for several years as long as the bark stays on the log. The third picture is of a standing rotting sugar maple that had a cleft in the side in which harvested oysters were place gill side into the cleft. We got almost 6 pounds last year from the third year of fruiting. Hope this helps.
winecap on huglebed.jpg
[Thumbnail for winecap on huglebed.jpg]
oysters on stump.jpg
[Thumbnail for oysters on stump.jpg]
oysters on rotting maple.jpg
[Thumbnail for oysters on rotting maple.jpg]
 
Alex Veidel
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As a side note, you'll probably find yourself using mushroom "spawn", not spores, to inoculate your mushroom bed. Spores are produced from the gills of the mushroom's fruiting body for reproduction, but spawn is the mycelium that has been cultivated on an easily distributed media like grain or sawdust. People often mistake the mushroom spawn for mushroom spores.

Since the wood in hugelkultur is buried, your fungus of choice will have a lot of stiff competition from surrounding soil microorganisms; it's chances of survival will be much lower. Adding a layer of wood mulch to the top of your bed (or the rest of your garden) creates a nice home for several species of edible mushrooms which will break down your mulch for your plants and produce additional yield in any empty spaces of your garden. My personal favorite is the Wine Cap Mushroom. I planted a bed last spring and got a killer harvest. I have a few pictures somewhere on my Facebook page; feel free to take a look: https://www.facebook.com/theaquaponicguy

I second the vote for Field And Forest Products; they have fantastic spawn: http://www.fieldforest.net/
 
Josh Katlof
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I have not attempted to grow edible mushrooms, but can tell you what I did with my hugel beds.

Last year, I bought and spread the following product from fungi perfecti on my hugel garden beds (tons of buried logs, compost and wood chips). It's all built over a Houston clay soil base (which I did not use in the beds).

MycoGrow™ For Vegetables--1 lb

This year, I'm getting crazy levels of mushrooms out of them. The buried logs (top layer), if not completely eaten away, crumble. The soil making properties of the spores is remarkable. I now cut out the mushrooms when they get large and spread them out into my orchard area to expand the inoculation zone (as these have been buried in logs and wood chips too). The soil that the mushrooms have made is simply outstanding. I know that it's meant for garden beds... but, figured it can't hurt for my fruit trees.

I do the same with any other mushroom variety that I find growing in the garden/orchard area.

The key for me is to expand the diversity of life in my garden/orchard soil.

Josh
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