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Does this wood chip mushroom compost look ready for planting

 
pollinator
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Hello everyone and a couple of confessions,

First, I know that this is largely taken from a different post on another thread I started over a year ago.  I have not gotten a response in a while so I thought I would try with a new post.  I am assuming that even though the older thread is updated, people get intimidated by the 45 or so posts on the thread, covering a long period of time and by now have a hard time following it.  If a moderator thinks this should be merged into the other thread, that is fine with me.  I don't want to be all spammy, I just want some feedback.

Secondly, while I know that it is NOT planting season yet, I am wondering if the mushroom compost looks ready for direct seeding, and if not, then

Thirdly, what should I do to the compost in the meantime to further prepare it?  To my eyes, this looks ready for direct seeding now, but I know that I can get it better ready if I take action before spring arrives.  

I attached the following pictures because I think they reflect the bed as a whole and also some of my findings


Picture 1 is simply a picture of the bed for perspective.

Picture 2 is a close up of picture one but dug just under the surface

Picture 3 is sadly out of focus, but does show mycelia

Picture 4 is a picture of the surface that until today has never been disturbed since innoculation

Picture 5 is a close up of picture 4

Picture 6 is a small dug up portion of picture 4 that shows mycelia on my little hand rake


Thanks for your responses in advance.  I have evolved as a gardener as I have embarked on this project and while I think I am no doubt a better gardener for the effort, I still need a little feedback now and then.  I really look forward to your responses and thanks for understanding.

Eric

IMG_5816.JPG
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1 Mushroom compost bed
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2 Chips under surface of straw
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3 Mycelium out of focus
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4 Undisturbed Surface
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5 Close up of undisturbed surface
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6 Freshly disturbed surface with mycelia
 
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That heap is looking good and it is decomposing at a very nice rate.
Those little grass clumps can be left alone for now or you can pull them and turn the clumps roots up so they won't be likely to reestablish easily. (photos 1 & 2)
photo 3 shows some great hyphae (hyphae are groups of mycelium that are more developed and headed towards the mass we call spawn), try to not disturb these so they will continue to populate the heap and get to the point for a flush of mushrooms.
photos 4-6 show a nicely rotting heap of wood chips with some volunteer grasses sprouting from left behind seeds in the straw cover.

Things to think about doing at this point in the development.
1. add more cover straw mixed with manures (I like to use chicken coop clean out litter for this myself)
2. pull and turn up the roots on the establishing grass clumps (this will add their minerals back into the heap instead of sucking nutrients from the heap, which actually slows decomposition)
3. sit down and enjoy the success you are having, take a sip of your favorite beverage and think "dang I am getting the hang of this".

Good work Eric, keep at it, you will be harvesting some very tasty mushrooms this spring.

Redhawk
 
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Your woodchip compost is looking really nice.
It's amazing how much it goes down. And all the random type of mushroom that show. I have one that has the weirdest smell not good or bad or even strong just very ......

I like to tuck kitchen waste right under the woodchip right next to walking path. I even had tomatoes, beans and squash show up randomly.

It takes me about a year to two year to get really nice compost from woodchip, 4inch to 8inch deep. I normally don't cover them with straw because that makes them compost even faster, but I do have alot of tree/shrub cover and sage/thyme family cover.

So short answer I say that it is ready to be planted in.
What exactly do you plant on planting in it? Grass family/vegetable (heavy feeders). root crop (light feeder), legumes (soil builders), fruit/rose family that loves a more fungal rich soil.
 
Eric Hanson
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Redhawk,

I will be certain to "weed" my compost and add in rabbit and hamster bedding.  Judging from the fact that you recommend chicken bedding, I assume that some diluted human urine would not be too strong to mix in with the bedding before applying to the chip bed.  Also, I will sit back and enjoy the fruits of my labor--but I love my labor nonetheless.  Thanks for the input, I sincerely appreciate it.  I am eagerly looking forwards to tasting my first home-grown wine cap mushrooms.

Eric
 
Eric Hanson
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S Bengi,

Thanks so much for the feedback.  It sounds like you have plenty of experience with this sort of composting.  This is my first foray into deliberate inoculation with fungi so I am pleased to be able to measure my own enthusiasm for the project against the experience of someone who has done this before.  I am not really certain what I am planning on planting in the compost yet.  Last year I grew tomatoes in fertile holes nestled into the chips and it helps to know that you can see my fertile "holes" are now mounds as you too can see the chip pile has dropped below the level of the amended earth in the "hole."  I was thinking about planting summer squash in the old fertile holes and planting bush beans in the chips.  My thinking was that there is still probably plenty of fertility left in the holes--it was manure amended with bone meal--and the beans could do their legume magic in the chips themselves.  Give me your opinion--do you think there would be a problem growing peas followed by beans?  Normally I would not follow one legume with another, but I was thinking since I was trying to get some added nitrogen into the chips that a year of heavy legume planting would charge the soil up.  For the summer squash, in order to charge the plants up I was going to do a little comfrey chop and drop.  I grew 6 comfrey plants 2 years ago and now they are healthy, bountiful plants.  

This one bed is really the tip of the spear for my wood chip composting.  I have said several times on this site that I have an embarrassing abundance of wood chips and I am in the process of making the mushroom-composted wood chips the basis for all of my raised beds.  I already have a pile of wood chips about 5' tall by 6' wide by 12-15' long that are waiting to be spread out.  Those chips are in the beginning stages of decomposition and I plan to inoculate them with wine caps in early spring.  With luck, in 2 years I will have 4 raised beds of mushroom compost.

Thanks for commenting, I certainly appreciate any and all feedback I can get.  While I think things are going well, a voice of experience helps a lot.  Please let me know your thoughts.

Eric
 
S Bengi
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Summer squash sounds great for the amended holes.
I prefer top dressing over amended holes due to root bound issues. but you should be fine.

Two harvest is totally fine, they aren't robbing the soil of nitrogen. And I don't think there will be a huge buildup of pest just yet. And even if there was the trade off of more nitrogen in the soil is worth it.

Are you doing liquid culture inoculation of oyster/wine cap edible mushroom. If so after those guys are done elm oyster can have a 2nd use and will actually help increase production from the cabbage family even though technically they don't partner with fungi like the other 90% of plant families.  
 
Eric Hanson
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S Bengi,

Thanks for the feedback.  To answer your last question first, the wine caps came in the form of two 5.5lb inoculated bags of sawdust.  I did my best to crumble them up into a series of holes and trenches in the chips and then covered the whole of the bed with the remaining, followed by another inch or so of chips followed by about 4 inches of straw.  In the end the bed was about 15 inches deep from surface of the ground to the top of the straw.  The bed is about 6'x15'.  I know now that was a huge area for those 11lbs of spawn to inoculate, but they are finally hitting their stride.  In the future I would use at least double that for a bed that sized.

Good to hear that two legumes on top of each other should not be a problem.  I also figured that this would be a fairly pristine environment for the peas/beans to go into and therefore disease would not rear its ugly head yet.  I know that the squash is a heavy feeder, but I am banking on the hope that the tomatoes did not finish off all the fertility in the manure w/bone meal from last year.  To boost them a bit I will generously chop & drop with comfrey as I have 6 (soon to be 12) healthy plants just waiting to fertilize something.

I certainly appreciate the feedback.  This has been quite an undertaking.  I feel like I am almost making my own soil custom made from scratch.  It is kinda a nice feeling, but full of uncertainty as well.

Thanks again for your input.  Even though I think I know how well the bed is working, it really helps to have someone to bounce ideas off of.

Eric
 
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