About 2 months ago I inoculated my wood chips with wine cap spores. I have found that there is some fungal activity in the top 2 inches of the chips. This area is generally dryish, the wood is blonde/light tan and in some spots looks like sawdust (I spread chips, not sawdust). At about 2 inches depth, the chips become much more moist, darker, cooler (this area had been rather warm--warmer than the top 2 inches about 2-3 weeks earlier), but I see no direct evidence of fungi here yet.
My obvious question is "how well is this proceeding?" I did spread the spawn in both a surface layer and into inverted cones of chips in order to distribute the chips throughout the chip pile (about 1' deep). The chips were all chipped up from my own property and were (mostly) autumn olive weed bushes and a few oak branches. They were topped with about a 1" straw/grass clipping layer to provide a bit of shade. The "pile" also doubles as a tomato bed so as to get both tomatoes and shade for the wine caps. I do occasionally water the chips and we have had some rain, but there have been times when the chips did dry out a bit--ironically, the only chips to dry out were the ones that show definite fungal activity. I do have the same wood chips spread in other areas of my garden and they show absolutely no sign of fungal activity.
I THINK that the surface chips are thoroughly inoculated by fungi which are starting to really take off while the deeper chips went through bacterial decomposition (resulting in them being quite warm at first, cool now and generally dark). If this is the case, are the spores I added into the deeper parts still alive? Is it stained dark by the chips and I just cant see them? Did they die of heat/driven out by bacteria? Are they just still in a more immature state and waiting to gobble up the chips as the temperature dropped? Something else entirely?
I am a complete neophyte to all things fungal, having until just recently considered any fungal activity in the garden to be a bad thing. I just recently (as of this spring) decided to deliberately add specific fungi to my garden, adding wine caps because I have been told by numerous sources that they are a great mushroom for beginners and they are ravenous, rapidly eating through piles of chips to leave behind a great mushroom compost for my garden. I suppose I should add here that my end goal for this project in not just wine cap mushrooms, but to also create a great soil/planting mix in my raised bed for future generations of garden veggies.
I know that this is a complex question so I added a series of pictures to help illustrate what is going inside my project. Any an all responses are welcome. I know some people here are truly mushroom artisans and I would like to glean any and all information I could.
Looks like the mycelium is growing, you might want to check for moisture content below the surface of the chips, mine seem to always have a bit of moisture (they are in shade with dappled light).
Most mycelium likes a bit of moisture to grow quicker in my experiences with them, not wet or even damp but some evidence of moistness (I know that is clear as mud, think dish cloth wrung as dry as you can get it, that sort of moisture level).
Thanks for getting back to me. The more I looked at the pictures, the more I saw evidence of fungi in the top layer. Do either of you have thoughts about the spores that went into the lower layer? Today these are moist but not wet chips. They feel a bit like used coffee grounds and they have cooled off considerably since I first inoculated them. Do you think those buried spores are still alive? Should I just let them sit there and hope they get colonized by the top layer? Should I do anything now other than sit back and wait?
Thanks for helping out a fungal newbie like myself,
Some places need to be wild
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
My general feel for mushroom mycelia, is that they have already spread out across your entire local ecosystem, and they will take advantage of any food sources that are suitable for them, as they compete with and synergize with the rest of the ecosystem.
I smile fondly about how I prepared the "perfect bed" into which I inoculated morel mushrooms. And then, when they fruited, it was 30 feet away from the bed I had prepared.
fungi spores that are not in their required conditions for "sprouting" will simply remain dormant (which for fungi can be decades).
I would now hum happy tunes as I went about all the other things I needed to get done, the mycelium will do its thing and in about 6 months you should have some gifts coming up.
could be if your pile heated up inside it may have killed off the mycelium there. now that its cooled the top mycelium will move back down into the center. try mixing the chips to redistribute the myceliem and add some air to the pile. i always make my mushroom beds no thicker than 6in so theres no heating going on. i also only use fresh chips so that no other fungi are present to compete with the mycelium im adding to it.
Your project looks amazing! I hope I get results as promising as yours. Where did you get the straw logs? Also, how well is your fungi growing in the relatively sunny areas?
You may be right that the heat of decomposition killed off the deeper spores. I was really surprised by the heat as this had been a mound I flattened off and I thought that the wood chips had plenty of time for the bacteria to cook off.
I went out again this morning and dug around and found that I am definitely getting better fungal growth in areal that are partially shaded by my growing tomato plants, but then again this should not be all that surprising. I am wondering if another layer of grass clippings or straw would help shade the chips and allow for better fungal growth? Additionally, I have been told that wine caps thrive on abuse & neglect, meaning that I should stir the layers together. Judging from my images, should I be stiring/disrupting my chips yet or do I need to wait for the mycelia to really grow & knit together before I think about mixing them up?
Thanks to everyone for piping up. This really helps the fungal newbie!
id try and miix the straw layer with the colonized mycelium chips then turn that into your lower layers. flaten out the pile some, cover w/ 6in. of straw. water well. the straw will help feed your mycelium and give it energy to colonize your pile. hope fully there is enough mycelium to get it done. if you want to give even more shade, a shade cloth over the pile gives shade but still lets water thru. shredded card board can be used also.
if they are completely brown but if they're green they will compost and grass is small so it will compact and air won't be able to get in there. mycelium, like us, needs to breathe. straw and wood chips are much better. just turn in the straw thats on the surface. don't add more. mix it good. flatten more and mulch with 6in. more of fresh straw. water well. should do it. some one on another site suggested adding a little milk in your water to help the mycelium along. never tried it but it might help. good luck!
The fungal activity must be kicking up into high gear as when I went out check on my garden, I saw fungal fuzz and hyphae on chips sitting right on the surface--no digging whatsoever. I did plant a few bean seeds--not for beans, but rather for dappled shade. I did notice earlier that the majority of the fungal growth was in areas that got more shade, and much less on the south side of the bed where the tomatoes can't yet shade out the chips. I gave the whole bed a good dose of water, and once the temperature drops down I will cover the bed in a nice layer of straw, soak again, and finally plant more beans on the assumption that at least some of them will sprout and spread their own shade.
Nice part about these pictures is that I did not have to dig at all to find fungal hyphae. They apparently grew all the way to the surface on their own. We have had some VERY hot & humid weather with almost daily showers--that moisture might account for the fungal activity. The chips themselves actually feel a bit dry on the surface, but perhaps with all the humidity, this dryness is being moderated.
Some places need to be wild
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