The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Mushroom stump and totem results

Mushroom stumpWe abruptly shifted into fall mode a week or two ago.  Cool, wet weather slows down the vegetable garden considerably, but sends mushrooms popping out of logs and stumps.  Time to check on all of our experiments!

Our oldest mushroom experiment is a magnolia stump that we inoculated with homegrown oyster mushroom spawn eleven months ago.  (We inoculated a box-elder stump with more homegrown spawn this past spring.)  I've read a lot about using mushrooms to break down stumps, but I think we're going to have do some more experimenting since I haven't seen any signs of life and think I should have by now.  The trouble is that we cut down a fresh tree to make the stump so that it wouldn't already be colonized with "weed" fungi, but the tree vigorously sent up new shoots!  Living trees are able to fight off invading fungi, so it's possible that we need to find a way to kill stumps before inoculating them with spawn.  Alternatively, it might just take longer for mushrooms to pop out of a stump compared to a log --- after all, the mycelium has to colonize all of the roots as well as the aboveground portion of the tree before it will make mushrooms.  We'll wait and see.

Shiitake mushroomsI'm pretty happy with our mushroom totems since we harvested a big bowl full of shiitakes Monday.  True, we didn't have any mushrooms all summer since the totem method lets our fungi send out fruiting bodies more seasonally when weather conditions are right.  But the truth is that I've spent a lot of effort in the past soaking mushroom logs and getting no results during the heat of summer, and we certainly don't lack for fresh garden produce while the mushroom totems take the summer off.  I suspect mushroom totems will last longer than the forced fruiting method of soaked logs too.

We're still waiting for results on other experiments, like the new King Stropharia bed we started this spring and the mushroom rafts that are overgrown with weeds and need to be weedwhacked before we can see if they're fruiting.  I'll report back when we know more, but right now we're just enjoying our flush of shiitakes.

Our chicken waterer takes the guesswork out of clean water.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Did you try to girdle the trees at ground level? Just take a hatchet and cut through all the bark and into the sapwood all the way around it at the base. That should kill the upper portion. The roots might give up too then. But Magnolias are awfully hard to kill...
Comment by Eric in Japan Wed Sep 14 21:08:04 2011
Hm, that might be an option. Perhaps we should just pick species that don't resprout from the base, but most of our softwood species (appropriate to oysters) are pros at that.
Comment by anna Thu Sep 15 08:01:53 2011

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