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Fast fruiting wine caps!  RSS feed

 
Christine Wilcox
Posts: 57
Location: Los Anchorage, near Alaska
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Wine cap mushrooms (Stropharia rugosa-annulata) have a long association with agriculture in Europe and have biology that makes them an aggressive competitor with other mushrooms and with molds when grown in complex environments. In a Northern climate, wine caps can take a significant period of time to achieve substrate colonization, which makes it easier for wild competitors that are better adapted to cooler temps to take over. 6-9 months is suggested as a typical time till fruiting. Even with global warming, 6-9 months is a lot longer than the time from thaw to freeze-up in South Central Alaska. Patience is a virtue, and there were fellow permies who had a big flush this warm summer at least 3 years after they inoculated with spawn.
This led me to test several ideas about S. rugosa-annulata. I wanted to determine if temperature would shift the time to fruiting and determine if it could still grow and fruit in high traffic pathways. This could potentially allow use in high tunnels that have sprung up like mushrooms in South Central.
I have a much loved and much trafficked 10’ by 15’ greenhouse that has a 2 ft central walk way for a little more than 30 sq ft total area. This is normally filled with wood chips that are allowed to break down and then are finished by mixing in compost. The path was dug out and lined with cardboard to slow down the earthworms and layers of spawn were mixed with less than pristine wood chips. In contrast to the recommendation to use only fresh wood chips, I used chips from a large pile than had overwintered and partially composted. Among fellow permies, I can admit that the wood pile is a place to add pee buckets in winter to act as a nitrogen trap. (The neighbors don’t understand why the pile keeps steaming like a volcano all winter long.) The bed was inoculated with two 4-5 pound bags of spawn that I had grown on birch sawdust plus grain.
The mycelium exploded and consumed substrate at an alarming rate with more material added as mycelium reached the surface, alternating straw and wood chips. By July, about 60-65 days after building the bed, mushrooms were popping up all along the edges! The path was used the same as always but more time was spent on all fours hunting mushrooms. I recorded about a pound/square foot of production before it exhausted my limited patience for accounting. This is not a bad addition to the productivity from the already overcrowded greenhouse. The control mycelium started on some new swales is expanding on similar substrate but at a fraction of the rate in the greenhouse. The ambient outside temps have been well above average this year, but, of course, is cooler than the greenhouse.
paul stamets has talked about the advantage of providing more CO2 for plants using mycelium, but I don’t think that is realistic for our well ventilated structure but it could apply in others. There are clear benefits to enhanced rates of converting wood chips to dirt. Weed seeds also don’t survive to germinate in the bed, although rhizomal invaders are not too bothered. S. rugosa-annulata has also been shown to have some predatory abilities toward certain root nematodes and probably has more properties than are understood. The other benefit was a more aggressive war on slugs that were stealing my mushrooms! Slug killing scissors were always in hand.
Overwintering remains to be determined. There is less protection in the greenhouse than the beds outside that had snow cover until the last few crazy years, but we just got a new load of wood chips and mycelium is thriving. I think this is a system that can be refined and used more extensively to expand the utility of greenhouses and high tunnels. The wine caps were at least a consolation to the boletes that didn’t happen this year, thanks to the drought. I even found a great new recipe for wine caps if anyone is interested.
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King stropharia
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Greenhouse path used to grow stropharia
 
nancy sutton
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Location: Federal Way, WA - Western Washington (Zone 8 - temperate maritime)
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Thanks for the report, Christine! Very, very interesting... and yes, please, the recipe ;)
 
John Saltveit
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I think they are the easiest type of mushroom to grow outdoors in a bed.
JohnS
PDX OR
 
Christine Wilcox
Posts: 57
Location: Los Anchorage, near Alaska
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nancy sutton wrote:Thanks for the report, Christine! Very, very interesting... and yes, please, the recipe ;)



Giving due credit, I modified the following recipe:http://www.wildmanstevebrill.com/Web%20Recipes/Mushroom%20Recipes/Wine%20Caps%20in%20Wine.html

This was not a usual set of spices I would use but the results are great. I modified the recipe a little. I don't add wine, I use 1T of tamari sauce. I leave the fennel whole. First I marinate either sliced wine caps if I'm going to grill them or chop them and marinate. Then cook. Grilled is great. If frying, cook until all juice is evaporated. They say pasta sauce or stroganoff to me.

JohnS,
From everything I have read I agree with you. However, a lot of money for spawn and especially shipping has been spent in Southcentral Alaska in failed attempts to grow Stropharia. In our region, it can take a long time for the ground temp to reach a point that Stropharia can run. In growing up spawn in bag culture, it is amazing the effects of a few degree of temperature on run dynamics. Hopefully, with more success and more local amateur producers of spawn, adaptation may be achieved either by the mysterious epigentic mechanisms that happen in clones or reselecting from spore grown mycelium or most frighteningly by changes in climate. The issues are very topical to cold climate mushroom growth but it is always fun to see how people are solving these regional challenges in the permiculture community. In colder climates, Shaggy manes (Coprinus comatus) are another excellent choice that grows well in the correct niche with little concern for the cooler temps. We have been "ranching" a large patch for years with little or no effort; we do give them finished compost every year with a happy patch for more than 10 years.

Thanks for your interest and comments.
 
steve bossie
Posts: 284
Location: Northern Maine (zone 3b-4a)
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hi christine. glad to see you're getting wine caps up there. I'm in zone 3 in n. maine and i started my beds last fall outside. i thought they wouldn't produce this summer after a brutal winter (-30f for 2 months) and little snow but i started to get flushes in july and just got another one yesterday. i had 2 oyster blocks i started from dowels over the winter that produced well for me. come spring i placed them on the ground in a shaded spot and poured a bunch of hardwood sawdust on them to make a mound. i got several large flushes from each! gonna cover everything w/ straw like last winter. should get lots more next year. if i can do it here ,you guys can do it there!
 
Corey Vaughan
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Location: Seattle, WA
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That's a great looking specimen Christine! I do wonder if the nitrogen in the urine had something to do with the great growth, many hobby growers use spent coffee grounds solely for the N content. Urine is even easier to obtain

I predict they will overwinter just fine in your high tunnel. I'm always amazed at what the mycelium can bounce back from, especially with a little mulch.

 
Christine Wilcox
Posts: 57
Location: Los Anchorage, near Alaska
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Steve and Corey,
You both have raised some very interesting points. To begin with Steve’s observations, I probably tried to present the problem in a less technical manner to encourage less experienced growers. My household has become a source of mycelium or mushroom for the local permaculture guild, otherwise known as mushroom geeks. To give a more complete answer, in Southcentral Alaska, we have recently been experiencing warmer winters than much of Maine but we are still about 1300 miles to the north. Measures like growing zone focuses on sentinel cold events not on the cumulative climatic effect on soil temperature. Mushroom biology makes them less susceptible to deep freezing events unless they are neotropical fungi that die well before freezing. The northern latitude governs the soil temperature, and this is an important determinate of mycelium growth, since most mycelium have an optimal temp range. The northern regions have a very rich native fungal ecology with a lot of cold adapted competitors. During spawn runs even a few degrees makes a huge difference in grow out of Stropharia rugosa-annulata (SRA) spawn, which is happiest in the 70s. We are also working on strain improvement for our region to select for better outside growth.

I should have made clear that the greenhouse or high tunnel idea for growing SRA is very specific to cold northern regions in order to generate yields faster. What I do know for certain is that a lot of failed attempts have been made to grow SRA in outside beds in Alaska with some recent success in the warmest microclimates. As one moves south, the high tunnel effect on substrate temps may be counter-productive, since some SRA strains are reported to die at a substrate temp of 90F. The greenhouse niche can be used to push limits for fungal growth just as it is for plants. In Maine it might allow efficient growth of blewits, Hypsizgus sps., or reishi. Further south, paddy straw mushrooms could be grown, etc.

Regarding temperature of survival, I have little doubt that the SRA will survive the winter. Stamets in his first book on cultivation suggested -5 F as a limit but your own experience and that others suggest much greater tolerance provided the mycelium doesn’t desiccate. Your oysters should also do well. We give out finished oyster straw bags that we have stored outside for fellow permies to use as garden inoculation after a winter of freeze thaw. It does great. Oysters are popping out of the most unlikely places!
Corey, as you note, nitrogen is a plus and minus for mushrooms. Some strains find free ammonia toxic. The added urine to a giant wood chip pile leads to composting/mineralizaton and a very complex substrate. The SRA goes crazy when it hits this stuff, which is different than the usual advice to use clean substrate.

Thanks for your comments and good growing to both of you.
 
steve bossie
Posts: 284
Location: Northern Maine (zone 3b-4a)
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Christine Wilcox wrote:Steve and Corey,
You both have raised some very interesting points. To begin with Steve’s observations, I probably tried to present the problem in a less technical manner to encourage less experienced growers. My household has become a source of mycelium or mushroom for the local permaculture guild, otherwise known as mushroom geeks. To give a more complete answer, in Southcentral Alaska, we have recently been experiencing warmer winters than much of Maine but we are still about 1300 miles to the north. Measures like growing zone focuses on sentinel cold events not on the cumulative climatic effect on soil temperature. Mushroom biology makes them less susceptible to deep freezing events unless they are neotropical fungi that die well before freezing. The northern latitude governs the soil temperature, and this is an important determinate of mycelium growth, since most mycelium have an optimal temp range. The northern regions have a very rich native fungal ecology with a lot of cold adapted competitors. During spawn runs even a few degrees makes a huge difference in grow out of Stropharia rugosa-annulata (SRA) spawn, which is happiest in the 70s. We are also working on strain improvement for our region to select for better outside growth.

I should have made clear that the greenhouse or high tunnel idea for growing SRA is very specific to cold northern regions in order to generate yields faster. What I do know for certain is that a lot of failed attempts have been made to grow SRA in outside beds in Alaska with some recent success in the warmest microclimates. As one moves south, the high tunnel effect on substrate temps may be counter-productive, since some SRA strains are reported to die at a substrate temp of 90F. The greenhouse niche can be used to push limits for fungal growth just as it is for plants. In Maine it might allow efficient growth of blewits, Hypsizgus sps., or reishi. Further south, paddy straw mushrooms could be grown, etc.

Regarding temperature of survival, I have little doubt that the SRA will survive the winter. Stamets in his first book on cultivation suggested -5 F as a limit but your own experience and that others suggest much greater tolerance provided the mycelium doesn’t desiccate. Your oysters should also do well. We give out finished oyster straw bags that we have stored outside for fellow permies to use as garden inoculation after a winter of freeze thaw. It does great. Oysters are popping out of the most unlikely places!
Corey, as you note, nitrogen is a plus and minus for mushrooms. Some strains find free ammonia toxic. The added urine to a giant wood chip pile leads to composting/mineralizaton and a very complex substrate. The SRA goes crazy when it hits this stuff, which is different than the usual advice to use clean substrate.

Thanks for your comments and good growing to both of you.
hi christine. just curious to what you guys use for sawdust/chips? i know theres little hardwood in alaska. do you guys use the white birch, alder and aspen sawdust ? or is it mixed with softwood sawdust/ chips ? i was under the impression that k.s. doesn't colinize softwood. I'm lucky there is a firewood business just up the road. i just pull up my truck and they load me w/ their tractor for free. its maple, yellow birch , white birch ,red maple and beech sawdust mixed. has a lot of bigger splinters and stuff which the shrooms love! by the way, I've tried beds without amendments and others w/ worm castings and / or urine added. the amended ones produced faster w/ 1/3 more shrooms produced! so have your people save their pee! good growing!
 
Michael Radelut
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Location: Germany, 7b-ish
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Christine Wilcox wrote:Wine cap mushrooms (Stropharia rugosa-annulata) have a long association with agriculture in Europe


Are you sure about your source(s)?
Wikipedia says the species was probably introduced to Europe from north America in the Fifties - and is spreading thanks to people using wood chip mulch
 
Christine Wilcox
Posts: 57
Location: Los Anchorage, near Alaska
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Hi Steve,
We get a free, delivered load of wood chips every fall from the tree service companies. It tends to be a mixture of birch, alder, cottonwood and spruce. Birch, alder and cottonwood work great as our hardest woods, supporting SRA well. Spruce is not so useful for the mushrooms we like to grow. Our wood chip pile ages overwinter and get watered with pee, so it has lots of nitrogen. SRA loves it. Just got another flush, even after several good freezes. Easiest mushroom I've ever grown and we are eating really well.


Hi Michael,
Yes, I'm sure about my source, Wikipedia: "The fungus also has a European history of being grown with corn." I was referring to the use of SRA in agriculture. SRA makes wonderful compost.
 
steve bossie
Posts: 284
Location: Northern Maine (zone 3b-4a)
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awesome christine! so they will tolerate some softwood. we had 3 killing frosts, below 25f. and i got a 5lb. flush last week that froze the following night before i noticed them. i dried them right away so they didn't have a chance to go bad. was a welcome surprise! gonna double my beds next spring w/ mycelium from that bed.
 
Corey Schmidt
Posts: 149
Location: Kachemak Bay, Alaska (usda zone 6, ahs heat zone 1, lat 59 N, coastal, koppen Dfc)
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Christine Wilcox wrote:

  ...Your oysters should also do well.  We give out finished oyster straw bags that we have stored outside for fellow permies to use as garden inoculation after a winter of freeze thaw. It does great.  Oysters are popping out of the most unlikely places!
...

Christine,
what species of Oyster?
 
Christine Wilcox
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Location: Los Anchorage, near Alaska
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Hi Corey,
We grow Pleurotus ostreatus, primarily the gray variety. It does well in the temperature ranges we have during the summer/fall and does well in indoor cultivation as well.
 
steve bossie
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Location: Northern Maine (zone 3b-4a)
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i had some white oysters last year. love the smell of them. inoced a pile of hardwood sawdust on the ground under my big spruces and covered w/ burlap. fruited at the soil line.
 
steve bossie
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Location: Northern Maine (zone 3b-4a)
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Christine Wilcox wrote:Hi Corey,
We grow Pleurotus ostreatus, primary the gray variety. It does well in the temperature ranges we have during the summer/fall and does well in indoor cultivation as well.
hi christine! i spred mycelium from one of my strropharia beds into sawdust around my fruit trees, bushes and raspberry patches. by mid summer i had them pop up all over the yard! had one in my raspberry patch 12in. and it wasn't completely opened! i stuffed and baked that one!
 
Christine Wilcox
Posts: 57
Location: Los Anchorage, near Alaska
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That's great. We too have spread wine cap spawn throughout the garden. Mushrooms everywhere. We are also using a well run bed of wine cap mycelium as a treatment for the road runoff.
 
steve bossie
Posts: 284
Location: Northern Maine (zone 3b-4a)
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thats great christine! I've spread 3 pickup loads of sawdust to cover up all the soil in my garden and raspberry patch to about 3in thick. the mycelium is spending like a wildfire! its crazy how aggressive this mushroom is. people that come over are amazed how big they get. I've even converted people to eating them that never ate mushrooms before. elm oysters grow real good in and around plants too. they like straw and sawdust also. i have a patch of them also. if i was any good at posting pics i would.
 
Christine Wilcox
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Location: Los Anchorage, near Alaska
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Love to see some pics Steve. Here are a few from our garden last summer. Wine caps are pretty sneaky, found them a long ways from where they were "planted", but we have wood chip paths and mulch almost everywhere and now all mulch is inoculated with wine cap spawn (just add in the well run wood chips). Also phot of the oyster added to the straw mulch in garden beds and the shaggy manes in the compost that pop up every fall when the temps drop and the rain comes.
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steve bossie
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awesome! I've never seen shaggy manes around here. how do they taste? I've tried to grow blewits on compost but for some reason they never took. i find them wild under spruce in the fall. yeah the stropharia come up in some weird places. i had a pot with marigolds in my raspberry patch and one day a doz. huge shrooms sprouted all around it. was pretty cool looking. il have to learn how to post pics. i have a bunch on my phone. I'm not to good with computer stuff.
 
Christine Wilcox
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Location: Los Anchorage, near Alaska
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Shaggy mane are delicious. They should be great in your area. Should also be wild. They are often in disturbed areas and in lawns.They are very watery, so need lots of cooking to evaporate the liquid, but are the best in cream of mushroom soup or in stroganoff. We also failed to get blewits to grow from spawn.
 
steve bossie
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this year i found horse mushrooms on the school lawn. they were friggin' huge and delicious! i took the stems and made a slurry under my spruces mixed with sawdust and compost. hopefully they take. do shaggy manes grow in compost? I've been all over around here looking for them but no luck.
 
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