Last weekend I went to a mycoremediation workshop in Madison and learned a ton about inoculating mulches with mushroom spawn, and was even able to score three bags of Oyster Mushroom spawn for my own projects. Here is a photo journey through my first project. Site selection was a bit tricky – I would prefer to have a shaded moist spot, but as we are still less than 5 years in this home and all our trees are under 15′, we have no shade to speak of other than the north side of our home – and that space is taken with my “recycling center” of compost bins and vermiculture area. Instead I chose a spot on the east end of my large rain garden which is situated on the west end of my home. It will be shaded until about 11am and then become shaded again at about 4. That is likely too much sun, but I get volunteer mushrooms in similar sites in the gardens, so I am willing to give it a try. More importantly – with its proximity to the rain garden it will be moist more often than not. I am even hoping that the mycelium will creep into the rain garden’s mulch and help filter that water as well.
First off you will need some Mushroom Spawn:
Once that is in hand, you will need something to grow it in:
Yep – I tow with a VW Golf. With the TDI engine’s torque and an upgraded Bilstein/H&R suspension it can handle over 1500#’s. Now that I have the growing medium and the spawn for innoculating, it was time to prep the ground. In this case I scraped the area down to the top soil to remove any Quack rhizomes:
Scraping it wasn’t really necessary, but I wanted a clean start. Next up I laid down a mat of clean straw. The thought here is that straw is easily digested by the fungus, and the long pieces act like a highway for the mycelium and help it to spread very quickly:
If you hadn’t noticed, I chose the morning after a rain for this project – the straw and mulch were already fairly damp and I soaked each layer well before moving on. Once the straw was laid out about 1/2-1″ thick, I threw down a layer of municipal wood chips about 2-3″ thick and crumpled about 30% of the spawn into this:
The mulch is not ideal for mushroom growing – it had lain on the municipal pile for over a week and likely other fungus had begun to colonize it. Also, it was composting on site, and the cooler sections were a bit moldy. All of these would typically be a no-no for starting a fungus bed (clean, fresh chips free of mold are best), but Oyster Mushrooms are allegedly hyper aggressive and typically out compete most everything so I worked with what I had. I repeated the steps 3 more times: Straw, water, Mulch+inoculant, water and then finally capped the now 1′ tall mound with a thick layer of straw to act as a mulch to keep the inner chips moist and shaded:
It is possible that I will see mushrooms this fall as Oysters typically fruit in the Autumn, but more likely it will be 2010. I have also used another packet under one of my Peach Tree guilds. There I am less concerned about eating the mushrooms, rather I would like to have them colonize the mulch and I will let them drop spores to hopefully naturalize to some degree to improve the soil fertility in that bed.
This was an uber simple project – total time was under an hour. If you would like to start a bed of your own, I highly recommend Fungi Perfecti as a source of spawn and information. Very helpful folks! Fungus Farming is a great method to function stack in odd places in your yard – producing mineral rich food while drastically increasing the soil’s diversity and fertility with little effort. What’s not to like?
Be the Change!