So I'm about to come into a significant amount of wealth in the form of free wood chips. PPL is cleaning up the power lines along my road and I should be getting the first load of chips today (kind of counting chickens before they hatch here, as there is nary a chip on the property yet). I have no idea how much to expect. I'm hoping for a lot, but even one small dump would be amazing.
My question is this: is it too late in the year to inoculate a fresh bed of chips with King Stropheria in my climate? I live along the eastern border of PA, pretty much smack dab in the middle. Southern tip of Monroe county, if anyone's looking at a map. Roughly climate zone 6a due to elevation (1100 ft) and geography (halfway down the northern slope of a mountain, where the sun doesn't break the trees for 3 months of the year). It's been a pretty warm year so far, but that's not a sure indicator of the future. In general, we usually don't get the below freezing daytime temps until mid-December or so, but due to the angle of the sun it stays colder longer on most of the property. We also don't get much in the way of ground-level wind because we're surrounded by forest.
I haven't decided on the spot for the bed yet; I was thinking I could put it in an area of full or almost-full sun and eventually use it for vegetables once it's spent, or I could utilize some otherwise empty space under a fir tree. The property isn't mine but my parents', so I have limited options as to where I can put things.
On the Fungi Perfecti site, they have King Stropheria listed as something that can be used spring through fall, with fall being considered September to late October. If I wait for spring, I'm thinking the nativefungi will get a leg up on colonization. I don't know how well the King Stropheria will establish in the short time it has before a hard freeze, or if it'll die because it didn't have enough time (fungi noob, here). I don't want to spend money if there's little chance of success right now, but I don't want to wait until spring if I don't have to.
Does anyone have any advice/ experience with this? Also, is Fungi Perfecti the best source, or is there better spawn to be found elsewhere (like possibly something from a northern climate that might be better-adapted to my conditions). Is King Stropheria even the way to go, or is there something fungal that will live on just woodchips and utter neglect and produce more food for me?
I'm not an expert, but I think you need to do it right away.
Fungi Perfecti is a good company but expense. If you need much spawn, there are some good sellers on the Facebook group, Micology and Botany Classifieds. They can give you good advice. I'll try to find the names of two I've purchased from.
The beds of chips I inoculated in November 2016 didn't take; I kept half the spawn in the fridge overwinter and inoculated both fresh and winter-aged chips the following spring. The fresh chips (mostly black birch, but mixed with whatever branches came down over the winter) colonized really well and I've been using that patch as a kind of propagation area to start new patches. The PP&L chips just didn't take, but part of that could have been competition. In the last three years, at least half of our oaks died from the one-two punch of Gypsy moths and honeymushroom infection; if the trees they trimmed were infected, the King Stropharia* never had a chance.
Anyway, I'm certainly no expert, but I'd try it. Where I live, the average frost date is still three weeks away, and the ground doesn't freeze for months. Or you could hedge your bets and try what I did--buy a 5lb bag of spawn, use half and refrigerate half until spring. I've been buying from Field and Forest Products and I'm really happy with them.
*I feel like an idiot for misspelling it in the original post, but at least I was consistent? Probably should edit it.
Thank you for taking the time to reply to me so quickly! I’m sorry to hear about your oaks, I hope the losses end there. I’ve never been one to stand at the edge of the pool so thank you for your encouragement, I’ve decided to order the spawn after all. If it doesn’t take I’ll just try again in the spring as you did. As for the spelling error, hakuna matata, I hardly noticed on account of it being phonetically close enough so don’t beat yourself up over it!