Gardening With Mushrooms
During opening and closing time of the garden, mushrooms turn out to be neat allies of the gardeners.
When it is time to grow more food out of a limited gardening space, producing a homegrown fertilizer or mulch improver, upcycling pruning trees residues or taking care of dead leaves insitu, mycelium can be use to do more with less. (finding two truffles with one shovel)
Here are two basics strategies for mushroom gardener aficionados that can use homegrown mushrooms growing kits in a way that they transmute garden residues into food sources forever and ever more.
Garden Mushroom Patch
The mycelium contained in your homegrown mushrooms growkit – the roots of mushroom – feeds itself upon carbon chains, reducing them into and incredibly rich humus.
While cleaning the garden from its dead leaves, stalks, branches and so on, an upcycling gardening stategy consist of turning them into a garden mushroom patch.
Mycelium of blue oysters, elm oysters or king stropharia as offered by homegrown mushrooms growing kits
Ligneous material or any “brown composting material” (branches, stalks, leaves, cardboard, spent coffee grounds, spent tea leaves, spent grains)
A soaking container (temporary) as a barrel or a plastic tote
A culture container (a hole in the ground or a pot)
Horticultural Lime (facultative)
Fill the soaking container of ligneous material to the 2/3,
add water until submerging it then add a kilo of Horticultural Lime for every 100L of water.
Let it soak half hour, the time needed for the “brown composting material” to reach the given humidity lever by absorbing water.
Culture container preparation
At the bottom of the space chosen to host the mushroom patch, place a layer of corrugated cardboard or of wood chips. This will maximise the water retention and stimulate mycelium deployment.
If the patch is install in the soil, dig a hole at least 3 inches deep to maximize the water retention and the mushroom culture deployment. Avoid too deep patches (over a meter deep, mycelium will start to suffocate) and prioritize sets up that are wide but not too deep. Mycelium runs way more easily at the horizontally then vertically.
Installing the mushroom patch
Empty water from the soaking container while preserving the ligneous material now humidified.
Crumble the mycelium coming from your mushroom growing kit, from another mushroom patch or from a aging log that have grown mushroom lately. Introduce only one variety of mycelium at the time, at a rate equal or superior to 20% of the dry weight. [1 Kg of mycelium is enough to inoculate up to 4 Kg of dry ligneous material] If no scale is available, a rule of thumb is that a 1 Kg of mycelium can be used to inoculate a square meter mushroom patch of 10cm. deep (4 inches)
The mix you now have in hand is your “culture dough” containing the mycelium and its food source. It can now be planted into a pot, directly into the soil or use as mulch. It can also be use as a soil improver for mound gardening, bushes or trees. It is recommended to cover the mix with soil to maximize the retention of humidity and warmth.
Your mushroom patch now simply needs to be kept moist by maintaining humidity level around 40%. You can stimulate the vitality of you patch by water it every day or simply provide support with an intense watering [10-30 minutes] anytime it haven’t rain for a week. In any case, it is recommended to water generously following the implementation of the patch to ease its deployment.
Note that mycelium is active as soon as temperature reach 5o C and generate many benefits for the surrounding vegetables and microorganisms. It presence warm the surrounding soil by its biological activity, while producing CO2 that stimulate the vegetable to grow faster and stronger.
At the end of the gardening season, the leaves, stalks and branches will be available as a food source for the mycelium laying under the plants, bushes or tree that strengthen their grows, perpetuating an endless virtuous cycle.
Oysters will deploy their mycelial mat during about 4 weeks before initiating their fruiting cycle, thus producing mushrooms. They will generate mushrooms as long as their substrate provide sufficient food source. When the flushes start to diminish in abundance or stop to shop up for several weeks, it’s time to feed the patch again with new ligneous materials. Allow then 4 weeks for the colonization phase and 2 weeks for the fructification process to provide new flushes of mushrooms ad vitam aeternam. Blue and Elm Oyster are perennial species, meaning they will survive winter’s frost. They will even benefit spring time like no other plants, fruiting as soon as temperature rise over 10oC for more then two weeks. Mushrooms culture are part of those rare wonders extending gardening season on both ends of the spectrum.
King Stropharia engage itself in a more complex relation with the soil, needing not only to deploy it’s mycelial mat in a wider way but also waiting for bacterial populations to gather around its rhizomorphic (roots-like) structure to thereafter eat them in a way that allow mushroom pinning to occurs, thus producing mushrooms. This characteristic of that fungal family know as secondary decomposer make them prime allies to gardeners searching to support cruciferous cultures (Cabbage, Broccoli, Kale, Arugula, Cauliflower and so on) by protecting them against bacterial attack.
King Stropharia planted in the springtime will produce mushrooms during late summer and fall. When planted lately in the gardening season, mycelium will deploy until winter stop it and fructification will start the next spring.