Simple Outdoor Cultivation

Here are some great protocols our buddy Mushroom Jordan from Portland, OR wrote up for us.

The King Stropharia mother patch

 Find an area that has dappled light-half-sun/half-shade. Areas that have plants of various heights-grasses, shrubs, mulch plants, vines, annuals/perennials, low hanging branches, ivy and blackberries provide excellent micro-climates. Add *freshly chipped & wetted hardwood chips – alder, maple, birch, ash, willow – up to 2″ on bottom layer.  Mix in a wheelbarrow or on a clean tarp, at least 40LBS of chips w/ **sterile spawn at a ratio of 4:1(2, 3:1 ratios are easier learning curves).  Leave a few big chunks, but thoroughly mix in spawn with woodchips.  Add a few handfuls to 1st layer-broadcast horizontally. Lay wetted  cardboard with a few holes, corrugated side down and then add the rest. The cardboard needs to be covered-well-innoculated woodchips can be up to a few inches deep on the edges, deeper towards the center. Let plants grow over as much edge as possible: this is where all the action happens. After a few weeks, you will know whether or not the mycelium is running, simply by looking at the cardboard. If it is not over 50% colonized-covered with rhizomorphic strands of mycelium, water the patch a little more. Misting up to 3-5 minutes of misting a day, AM or PM.
*= free, utility/arborist chips can also be used, too. Secondary saprobes, especially king stropharia thrive in these substrates. Too much fresh leafy matter is not as productive just the chips and branches.
**= Sterile spawn, after it colonizes a new substrate becomes naturalized. Use the same ratios. Learn to identify when your naturalized spawn is vigorous. Mushrooms growing on soft substrates-that crumble, natural or otherwise are not good sources of vigorous spawn: through good observation and getting to know your mushrooms this will help shorten the learning curve and improve yields.

Parasols on the Edge
This saprobic fungus loves grassy, composty areas. On the edge of a food forest or wood-chipped garden, they follow the nutrient rich, newly created edge and can fruit with Blewitts, w/a little luck. Choose area with dappled light and no other grass-loving mushrooms. This observation period can be shortened, by digging a hole(Large enough to place a mushroom kit in)and then filling in with soil, grass-clippings. Cover with wet cardboard corrugated side exposed, a lump of soil & more grass clippings. This protocol can be replicated with a few other secondary saprobes and other grass-dung-woodchip lovers. Or you can wait/observe the area for a few years and see what occurs…

Working With Douglas-Fir

Doug fir logs/stumps can be innocualted with oyster, ganoderma(s), chicken of the woods, hericium and a few others. They can be taken at any time of the year and can sit for a few months before being innoculated. Chips can make up 20-30% of the total pile. Anti-fungal compounds dissipate after a few weeks, but pure fir-chip beds do not produce as well as those with some hardwoods. Same with oak-not more than 20-30%. Oak can support a few different species, but like thin-barked hardwoods, oaks can lose their bark if not handled properly.

Oyster mushrooms in a box
Old shipping crates make good candidates for this low-tech mushroom project. Make sure the box is not already colonized with mold or other fungi. Shiny, yellow oat straw works well and after it has been soaked in water for at least two hours, it gets mixed with a spent oyster kit. Once the box is stuffed with straw that has been mixed with spawn, it is put in a place that receives dappled light. Low hanging trees, shrubs and bushes can expedite colonization by weeks. I have had quick colonizations with as little as 5LBS of spawn to 40LBS of freshly wetted straw! Higher ratios will produce bigger flushes.

Working With Logs

Alder & maple make good mushroom logs. The bark is thinner than Oaks, Doug Fir and Conifers-which means that you should cut thin-barked, hardwood trees in Feb (or before the leaves pop out). Once cut, they should be inoculated within a few weeks. Sticks and branches up to 3 inches can be chipped and innoculated into beds from Feb-Sept. Logs between 5-10 inches in diameter, between 2-4 feet long w/ no signs of colonization from other fungi can be used. Logs that have been in contact with the ground for more than a few months are not good candidates for projects. Stumps can support a few tasty species that also lend themselves to mycopermaculture techs. The closer the top of the stump is to the height of the plants, shrubs, bushes, dwarf trees that share the same habitat, the quicker the colonization, thus better harvests. Disc culture and wedge cuts work well for stump innoculations. Logs over 12 inches in diameter can be inoculated the same way. Some species need to have the log in contact with the ground, others, not so much. Please follow the protocols in the books/papers for the best results and do not let the logs or projects (once innoculated) dry out. This is where your observance of micro-climates will help with the best placement or implementation of these techs. Cold-weather strains of oyster, shiitake, lion’s mane and polypores exist and do well on Alder/maple in the PNW. Velvet foot, brick tops and few others occur naturally and can be used in mycopermaculture strategies. Birch, ash, poplar, cottonwood can also be used in for some species.

For info on upcoming mushroom cultivation courses, click here.

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