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Planting in stumps?

 
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I recently purchased a house but the entire property was filled with mature pines, oaks and maple.  We finally had about an acre cleared out so we can start planting fruit trees.  I am torn about what to do with the stumps.   I have seen some people hollow out the centers out of stumps and use them as planters, generally with annuals.  I was wondering about something similar but with fruit trees.  My thought was to cut the stump flush with the ground, hollow out roughly a  foot wide bowl and drill some 1/2" holes through the base of the bowl until I reach soil.  In my mind this does several things.  It saves me the time, money and fuel of renting a stump grinder or mini-excavator and it should speed up the decomposition of the stumps as well keeping the organic material in the ground.

Has any one attempted this with known results or does anyone have any resources about this idea?
 
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Hi Dennis and Welcome to Permies,

So how much of a hurry are you to get those stumps out?  You certainly could flush-cut them and bore holes into the remaining wood to speed up decay.  BTW, what type of trees were they?  Were they some type of pine or some deciduous wood?  The reason I ask is that each of those broad categories decay slightly differently.  If they are pines or evergreens, I suspect that their soft wood will decay rather quickly on its own, and the bore holes will only help.  If on the other hand they are some type of deciduous tree they might take longer to decay, but it might open other, interesting opportunities.  

I am somewhat obsessive about mushrooms, in particular Wine Caps.  If this were MY project (but it is not so do what you think appropriate) I would be tempted to leave the stumps in place and inoculate them with some type of aggressive fungus, my favorite being a Wine Cap because they are so incredibly aggressive and they leave behind lots of wonderfully fertile compost.  You could buy little peg spawn, drill a bunch of holes and push in the little pegs. Another approach would be to hollow out the center, add the chips back in but inoculated with the spawn (you could use straw as well).  You will want to keep it moist and it might take a year or so, but the fungi will really do a number on the old stump.  Once the stump is thoroughly rotted, you can plant right on or near where the stump was located.

Anyhow, this is just an idea and if you have any further questions, please don't hesitate to ask,

Eric
 
Dennis A Mitchell
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That is a great idea.  We are hoping to get some fruit tree established ASAP but I might look into this further.  I was planning on leaving the larger 18"+ stumps and pulling some of the smaller stumps but the fungi may be a better idea.

Thanks!
 
Eric Hanson
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Dennis,

I have recently been bitten with the mushroom bug.  By this point, ALL of my garden beds are raised and filled to the brim with wood chips that have been inoculated with Wine Cap mushrooms.  The process takes about a year, but the Wine Caps do an amazing job of breaking down the wood and the resulting compost is the most fertile garden bedding I have ever seen.  I don't even bother adding in additional nutrients anymore, the mushroom compost is plenty fertile enough.

If you really wanted to do so, you could make each stump into a little planter for something like a tomato plant.  I like using tomatoes in my garden beds the first year as the tomatoes and the Wine Caps act with each other to promote growth.  You could use peppers or really just about any other veggie you wanted, but I like tomatoes because they grow like a tallish bush.  The process takes 6-12 months to actually get the first flush of mushrooms, but by that time they will have really broken down the stump.  

I am a very strong supporter of Wine Caps as they are tremendously aggressive and are kinda like an ideal mushroom for beginners (they thrive on neglect).  The other mushroom to consider is the blue oyster mushroom which is at least as aggressive as a wine cap and is known to do their thing in about half the time as a Wine Cap, but Wine Caps just absolutely thrive on neglect, something valuable for a first time mushroom grower.

I am glad that you liked the idea!  Please keep us updated on what you decide to do with the stumps.

Eric
 
Dennis A Mitchell
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I will be sure to post some follow ups.  Any recommendations on where to purchase spores from?
 
Eric Hanson
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Dennis,

I can recommend two different sources.  The first is Fungi Perfecti which is considered to be the gold standard for all things fungal.  Personally I use Field & Forest.net and I can assure you that they are very knowledgeable.  If you want to get started this year, now would be the right time.  Fall is a great time to sow mushrooms, but in my experience the mushroom vendors start running out of stock.  I just checked and Field and Forest still has Wine Caps in both peg and sawdust spawn.  Either could be a winner.  I would be tempted to go with the sawdust spawn simply because that is what I am familiar with, though there is a very convincing reason to go with the peg spawn.  Either way I will try to help as I can.

Good luck,

Eric
 
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Dennis, i highly recommend oyster mushrooms for hardwood stumps. phoenix oysters will grow on pine. wine caps are better for wood chips/ straw and would have a hard time eating solid wood. oysters are professionals at it. id mix it up and put some summer and some fall fruiting ones. everything mushrooms is the cheapest source I've found for spawn. id just get some sawdust spawn and cut a bunch of holes with the saw and pack it in. cover with  cardboard or a thin board  to keep it from drying out and protect the mycelium from the sun. those stumps will fruit for a very long time. I'm jealous! good luck!
 
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I'll also add shitake plugs as a great option for oak stumps. And I am definitely in agreement with inoculating the stumps rather than trying to rip them out. If they're thick enough you could core them out for planters AND inoculate the outside!
 
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I view fruit tree production as a long term proposition. you will probably want to prepare the area the best you can before planting expensive trees. I don't know where you are but here on the edge of the smokies when an area is logged there is no need to replant as there are so many seeds and sprouts in the ground already forest will return all on its own. it might be a good idea to invest time effort and probably some money in getting those stumps and roots out of there if you want to put in something different. this could involve use of heavy equipment like a backhoe or excavator to dig them out or a stump grinder will do the trick or a bull dozer to push them out.
in changing the dendrology of a forest it might take some effort.
I wish you the best with your project
 
bruce Fine
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you will want to have proper soil and drainage conditions for the types of trees you want and the soil conditions that they prefer to thrive.
 
Eric Hanson
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Dennis,

I just checked Field and Forest and they still have both Wine Caps and Oyster mushrooms in both peg and spawn.  Steve makes some good points about the aggressiveness of the Blue Oyster.  Field and Forest has a couple of varieties that may be helpful for you.  First they have a Grey Dove Oyster.  I called and this is indeed a variety of Blue Oyster and it is an aggressive colonizer.  But the variety they recommended to me was the PoHu mushroom.  I told them that I was primarily interested in making compost and they suggested the Pohu as it is a very fast colonizer.  All three of these varieties (Wine Cap, Grey Dove and Pohu) are still available in both peg and sawdust.  I was really tempted at one point to go with the Pohu as I was told that this is both aggressive and is not especially picky about growing conditions.  Of course you will want to keep things moist, but the Pohu has some intriguing properties.

Just a suggestion if you choose to go this way.

Eric
 
Dennis A Mitchell
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Thanks Bruce.  I did spend some time hollowing out one stump last night and the amount of time I spent, I could have probably ground it out with a stump grinder.  I also came to the conclusion that with the cost of fruit trees,  that I'd rather not gamble with their survival.

I am interested though in this as a concept, so I may still try 1 or 2 with transplanted feral fruit seedlings I can get for free, as well as a few with fungi inoculation.

I'd also like to thank everyone for all of the fungi info and recommendations.  I'm definitely liking forward to trying my hands at fungi.
 
Eric Hanson
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Dennis,

I am glad you like the mushroom idea.  If you want to do raised beds, you can grow mushrooms and veggies at the same time.  There is just a little planning involved but it is very doable.  If you are interested I can send you some links to other threads that have been helpful.

Eric
 
bruce Fine
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you might want to get some soil tests done but a very least ph test. there are lots of experts here on this site that can tell you how to amend soil conditions. but planting in soil amended to optimal conditions for what your trying to grow will pay off in spades in the decades to come. one example comes to mind right off the bat with apple trees and red cedar apple rust. if apple trees are too close to any cedar growth you will probably forever be plagued with this apple tree pest.
as far as soil tests you can probably get in touch with your local county extension service for free or very inexpensive reliable testing.
you say you have pine trees. which over time in forest create acid soil conditions. high ph is perfect for high bush blueberry production but they need well drained soil, acid, organic matter with sand and or rocks. but peaches, cherries, pears will not like acid soil.
 
pollinator
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One thing to consider with mushrooms is your environment.  I am in the south so I found that mushrooms that fruit in the warm weather are soon to be overtaken by bugs. The cooler weather varieties are not.  I grow two varieties of Shiitake on my logs. A wide ranging variety and a cool weather variety. I do my harvesting in late fall and early spring and they are bug free.
 
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one method ive heard of for stump removal is to drill a few holes and fill them with corn hen turn some hogs loose on them aparently thy will destroy stumps in short order to get to the corn
gift
 
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