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add mushrooms to the compost pile?

 
Posts: 27
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Can anyone address the safety of adding unidentified mushrooms from my yard to my compost pile? I'm motivated to inoculate my compost with mycelium (after watching Geoff Lawton's soil video) but would rather turn an on-site problem into a solution than spend money on inoculants. Its a lazy compost pile - so probably doesn't get very hot and definitely doesn't get much turning!
 
pollinator
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If the mushrooms are in your yard, they'd probably find any suitable habitat that appears, so I think at most you'd be speeding up the inevitable. Being that fungi are helpful (breaking down woody stuff, building tilth), maybe you'll want to help them.

I myself inoculated my compost pile with the remnants of a failed oyster mushroom experiment and it seemed like the fungi in the pile developed faster. But there are other mushrooms around still and it might be my imagination.
 
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Location: In the woods, West Coast USA
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I've found that mushroom compost is the absolute best stuff ever. And as far as using poisonous mushrooms or toadstools, I think your only problem would be if you decided to eat your compost

The composting process breaks down things quite thoroughly, and is even used in bioremediation processes to break down poisonous things in the soil. Maybe e. coli might be left in some compost, so you don't want unfinished manure splashing up on lettuce, let's say. But when I've gotten mushroom compost from a mushroom company, the density of mushroom detritus in the compost is about as high as you can get it. Our putting the occasional handful of mushroom/toadstools into a pile the size of the back of a pickup truck, I don't think could ever get that much of a percentage of the compost, then there is still the breaking down of it. Then we spread that compost an inch deep over a good-sized area. You can see how thinned out it would get even if somehow there were something left behind. Then in healthy soil the breakdown continues before the root hairs of plants even get it. I always throw whatever mushrooms/toadstools I find out and about into the pile.

Here's a nice chart with pictures and information in case you don't feel comfortable doing it:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_deadly_fungi
 
gardener
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hau Linda, As Cristo and chip have mentioned, it is not that the mushrooms may be poisonous that is the issue when using mushrooms in your compost heaps, it is the mycelium (hyphae) that really do the work.

Since mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of mycelium they can be discounted when it comes to composting (just pluck them and put those fruits back in the compost from which they sprang).

We have several different compost heaps going all the time on our farm, every one of these heaps gets inoculated with native spores and mushroom slurries.
There are several great reasons to do this regularly:

1. should there be any "cides" in the materials you compost, the mycelium will break those down and your compost won't poison your plants.

2. the compost will contain live hyphae and these will find their way to the roots of your plants, which is a wonderful thing for your plants.

3. the thusly spread hyphae will add to your living soil, help your trees and help the bacteria present in your living soil, making everything richer.


 
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i have 4 mushroom beds with 3 kinds of mushrooms i grow. king stropharis, wood blewits, and elm oysters depending on what condition and stage my compost piles are in i add the right mycelium. k. stropharia and elm oyster likes sawdust so i compost and inoculate sawdust piles with them. after a year of fruiting the sawdust is almost spent. i then add some greens into the sawdust and inocuulate with the blewits which are a secondary decomposer similar to button mushrooms. once the blewits are done you have the best compost ever! full of worms! if you put this in between rows of vegetables or under fruit trees and cover with more sawdust you will get more flushes of mushrooms there! i have a large raspberry patch I've been putting this compost around for years. i get all three species that come up under there! as well as under my flowers and veg garden! keep feeding sawdust and leaves and they keep growing!
 
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Location: Southwest lower Michigan
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I'm trying to remember the mycogardening chapter of Stamets' Mycelium Running. It seems like oysters had a negative effect on some plants. I know that trumpet oysters are supposed to be mildly parasitic on carrots and similar veg. Based on that information, I've opted to exclude oysters (pleurotus, not hypsizygus/elm oyster) from the compost pile. I like to grow elm and King stropharia in the straw mulch I put in the garden, as they have a beneficial effect on the plant growth, so that's the only hang up I'd have with putting non-edibles in.
 
steve bossie
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blewits grow well on finished compost and don't affect your plants negatively. slow to fruit tho.
 
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Location: 32.9343° N, 97.0781° W; zone 8a
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:hau Linda,  As Cristo and chip have mentioned, it is not that the mushrooms may be poisonous that is the issue when using mushrooms in your compost heaps, it is the mycelium (hyphae) that really do the work.

Since mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of mycelium they can be discounted when it comes to composting (just pluck them and put those fruits back in the compost from which they sprang).

We have several different compost heaps going all the time on our farm, every one of these heaps gets inoculated with native spores and mushroom slurries.



i am reading a book on growing mushrooms and all the recommendations are to be sterile- sterile growing medium, sterile container in which to grow the mushrooms, etc etc.  since i want to use mushrooms to break down chicken poo and other organic matter to improve my compost, that advice seemed incorrect somehow.

i have a few questions regarding this wonderful information you have just shared.
(1) how does one go about innoculating compost with native spores?
(2) what is a mushroom slurry?

i would go back to reading my book, but it seems like the audience there is fancy restaurants, not really "woman who wants to up her compost mojo"
thanks!!!
kristen
 
steward
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I tried the "Sterile" approach to growing mushrooms. But it was more like working in a chemical laboratory than farming. So I went back to my roots as a dirty farm boy. I currently do all my mushroom growing in natural conditions. Mushrooms have competed with germs since time immemorial. They survive just fine in the wild without sterility.

Making a slurry basically means throwing some mushrooms into some water, and stirring or blending it, and then dumping the mix out where you want mushrooms to grow. Hopefully onto some kind of organic matter that they like to eat.

 
steve bossie
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growing indoors as opposed to outdoors is 2 different animals. gave up indoor growing because its such a pain. no ones sure why but mushrooms fight of molds and bacteria outside but not in. its all about soil contact. something in the soil allows the mushroom to defend itself. that said tho. I've tried adding soil to my indoor grows but still got contamination in my grows. even Dr. Staments doesn't understand this process.
 
steve bossie
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Kristen Schroder wrote:

Bryant RedHawk wrote:hau Linda,  As Cristo and chip have mentioned, it is not that the mushrooms may be poisonous that is the issue when using mushrooms in your compost heaps, it is the mycelium (hyphae) that really do the work.

Since mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of mycelium they can be discounted when it comes to composting (just pluck them and put those fruits back in the compost from which they sprang).

We have several different compost heaps going all the time on our farm, every one of these heaps gets inoculated with native spores and mushroom slurries.



i am reading a book on growing mushrooms and all the recommendations are to be sterile- sterile growing medium, sterile container in which to grow the mushrooms, etc etc.  since i want to use mushrooms to break down chicken poo and other organic matter to improve my compost, that advice seemed incorrect somehow.

i have a few questions regarding this wonderful information you have just shared.
(1) how does one go about innoculating compost with native spores?
(2) what is a mushroom slurry?

i would go back to reading my book, but it seems like the audience there is fancy restaurants, not really "woman who wants to up her compost mojo"
thanks!!!
kristen

hi kisten! my question to you is do you want a mushroom to break down compost or do you just want to grow them? reason I'm asking is green compost is too hot for most mushroom species but they will grow in older compost. if you have a pile of almost finished compost buy some blewit spawn and mix it in . it will take about a year before you see mushrooms. like was mentioned, make sure you identify whats growing before consuming. there are other species that are poisonous that look similar to blewits. now if you just want mushrooms to eat and are easy to identify, grow king stropharia or wine cap mushroom. they're a big meaty mushroom and very prolific! i have them growing under all my berry bushes and trees on my property. they tolerate the sun more than most mushrooms. to grow them find a shady area, clean the spot down to just dirt, mix a bag  of spawn with  a wheelbarrow full of wet hardwood chips. spread it out to about 4in . thick. cover w/ 2-3in of straw and water. if you start the patch in early spring , you should get mushrooms by early fall. but bigger flushes the following spring. i water my patches when i water my garden . if you don't have access to pure hardwood , wine caps will also grow if there is some evergreen chips mixed in but no cedar! i get my chips at a firewood business up the road. if you want to spread your patches just take some of the chips from your mother patch that are white with mycelium and mix it with some fresh wet chips. place it on bare ground where you want. i also take the stems of the mushrooms or past prime ones, chop them up and mix with chips. that works too.i bet i got 50lbs of shrooms just out of my raspberry patch alone last summer! hope this helps! good luck!
 
Kristen Schroder
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Location: 32.9343° N, 97.0781° W; zone 8a
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i'll confess that i don't enjoy eating mushrooms.
this may be because i've only eaten grocery store mushrooms and at this point i'm not that interested in trying.
so these mushrooms would only be around to finish the compost.
i got the idea from a permaculture book wherein the stacking functions suggestion was: food scraps -->chickens -->poop -->compost w/yard scraps mixed & muchrooms --> worm composter w/few kitchen scraps added -->garden as soil ammendment. but it there were very direct instruction points on things like how to gather the poop of free range birds or how to get mushrooms started in said compost once you added the poop.

as i'm reading here, i am understanding that it's because the practicality of mushrooms on compost aren't as instant as may have been hoped for earlier.
kristen
 
steve bossie
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there are already certain fungi and bacteria that occur naturally in soil. i would mix some soil or finished compost  in your pile then mix a couple cups of molasses in a 5 gal. bucket of warm water. stir to dissolve then pour over the compost heap. the molasses will feed the fungi and bacteria and speed up the composition process. i also collect my urine and pour that on the pile for ex. nitrogen. if your got a good supply of chic. manure in there it will do the same thing. they sell a compost accelerator but this does the same thing but for free.  i don't eat a lot of mushrooms either but they compost my chips very quickly and i use them to barter with my neighbors for other things. i also sell at the farmers market. you would be surprised how fast you can sell big wine colored mushrooms! good luck!
 
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If I understood the original post, the question was about inoculating compost with the indigenous fungus in the local vicinity. Fungus that would already be in the compost that was collected from that property
I think it would be very nearly impossible to eliminate the local fungus from your compost pile

From my perspective, I have no hesitation throwing wild mushrooms into my compost.
 
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Hi all, great post and some really good info here.  

I am just getting started on my permaculture journey, though mine has a twist.  I'm on a 37ft sail boat, so space is rather limited.  This thread is of particular interest for me as I am currently exploring how to deal most effectively with my vegetable scraps.   Currently we have a large plastic bin that we throw everything in, it has two lids to seal it air tight, which we have been using.   Now about a month of veg waste has accrued and it is almost full.   Problem is it has not decomposed much.   So my question is how can we speed up the composting?  Is there a type of mushroom we could add to the vegetable waste to get it to break down faster?   Also does keeping both lids on it (making it air tight)  help or hamper the decomposition?

Thanks for the input.  
 
steve bossie
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there isn't any mushroom that would survive in that. if you had a few totes you could put some compost worms in, they would eat some  of your plant scraps but not a lot. if its biodegradable, there isn't a issue throwing it overboard. something else will eat it.
 
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Unidentified mushrooms in a cold compost pile? I would not throw in honey mushroom, or chicken of the wood, or any other parasitic fungi...
Honey mushroom for example does not only kill trees, but plants as well...
 
pollinator
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:
I tried the "Sterile" approach to growing mushrooms. But it was more like working in a chemical laboratory than farming. So I went back to my roots as a dirty farm boy. I currently do all my mushroom growing in natural conditions. Mushrooms have competed with germs since time immemorial. They survive just fine in the wild without sterility.

Making a slurry basically means throwing some mushrooms into some water, and stirring or blending it, and then dumping the mix out where you want mushrooms to grow. Hopefully onto some kind of organic matter that they like to eat.



Awesome tip. I have a little wild puffball colony in a spot that makes them very inconvenient to harvest (high traffic so they are always gross by the time I can get out to harvest) so i think i might try one of these slurries to spread the colony somewhere a little more protected so I can harvest some that I might actually want to eat.
 
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:
We have several different compost heaps going all the time on our farm, every one of these heaps gets inoculated with native spores and mushroom slurries.



Dr. Redhawk,

Where does one acquire the spores to make the slurries and what specific ones do you recommend?

Thanks.
 
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Mark Harpur wrote:

I am just getting started on my permaculture journey, though mine has a twist.  I'm on a 37ft sail boat, so space is rather limited.  This thread is of particular interest for me as I am currently exploring how to deal most effectively with my vegetable scraps.   Currently we have a large plastic bin that we throw everything in, it has two lids to seal it air tight, which we have been using.   Now about a month of veg waste has accrued and it is almost full.   Problem is it has not decomposed much.   So my question is how can we speed up the composting?  Is there a type of mushroom we could add to the vegetable waste to get it to break down faster?   Also does keeping both lids on it (making it air tight)  help or hamper the decomposition?
 



I'm not sure that mushrooms would be your solution, but have you considered worm composting?  It's tremendously easy and would be a good solution for a small space like a boat.  If you are attentive and feed the worm bin thoughtfully, it will not get smelly and will provide you with a lot of great worm castings/compost relative to the small size of the bin.

 
Bryant RedHawk
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Ralph Kettell wrote:

Bryant RedHawk wrote:
We have several different compost heaps going all the time on our farm, every one of these heaps gets inoculated with native spores and mushroom slurries.



Dr. Redhawk,

Where does one acquire the spores to make the slurries and what specific ones do you recommend?

Thanks.



I get mine from; our land, the grocery store throw-outs (they put out of date or spoiled ones out, along with all produce that is unsaleable for different reasons).
The spores are in the mushroom caps, so when you make a slurry in a blender or food processor you are creating a spore rich liquid.

I don't make recommendations since all fungi mycelium are desirable for most soils, the hyphae are part of the soil neural network (or the internet of the soil).

Redhawk
 
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Dr Redhawk,

Lateral thinking here but can you freeze in mushrooms to add to your compost heap say, during the summer and, is there any advantage to do so ??
Kindest regards
 
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