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Winecaps - fresh woodchips/fall planting vs old chips/spring

 
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I haven't had success with mushrooms yet, but hoping winecaps will cope with my neglect.

I've got two options for starting my mushroom bed.

First option is to get fresh woodchips in the next month or so and innoculate them right away. The spawn will sit under snow most of the winter and hopefully start doing its thing next year.

Second option is to get the wood chips in the next month or so, have them sit over winter, and innoculate them in the spring.

My preference is the second option because the wood chips will be nice and hydrated from snow and rain by the time I get the spawn into them. If I innoculate in the fall, I can't put much water on the bed and will be relying on unpredictable rainfall. It's possible the spawn would dry out.

Will my second option result in growing every mushroom other than winecaps? I know winecaps are more aggressive, so I'm hoping it'll be okay. What do you guys think?
 
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My instinct is the second. In a cold winter I doubt many spores are flying around anyway.  And yes, it is aggressive,  and even if some competitor come up it's fine. Just don't eat them if they're poisonous. Some people, including me, are growing mushrooms in poly culture beds now
 
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Hi Jan,

For what it is worth, my instinct is to go the first route, but I live in a much milder climate than yours.  My experience has been that the hardest obstacle for Wine Caps to overcome are hot and dry summers.  But if you can get some moisture on the chips and keep them covered, say with a layer of cardboard, maybe the spawn will be able to get a toehold before the real cold of winter shuts everything down.  Come spring, at the very least you should have spawn just sitting and waiting for the temperatures and moisture to get to optimal conditions.  Maybe you will get a spring flush or maybe not, but I personally all for establishing in fall if at all possible.

To be fair, Wine Caps do like to grow in chips that already have some bacterial decomposition going, so the second plan in not bad either.

These are just my thoughts and much of your decision is going to be based on your local winter which is far colder and probably more arid than mine.

Good luck and please keep us informed!

Eric
 
Jan White
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Hmmm. One vote for each option.

Eric, I'd much prefer to get the spawn put down in the fall cause spring is absolutely nuts for me between work and garden. If I'm putting spawn into fresh woodchips, can't water them initially, and then it doesn't rain or snow for three weeks, isn't that bad? And if it's too cold for the spawn to get established at all before spring anyway, is there really any point?

While it can get quite cold in the winter here, it doesn't always. I wouldn't say our winters are arid. This is a La Niña year so it will likely be colder than average with lots of snow. As long as we have good snow cover, things like peas can overwinter here, so I think mushroom spawn would be okay. I'm mostly worried about it drying out right after I put it down if I do it in November. You can see we get plenty of precipitation, but sometimes it all comes in one weekend or something stupid.
 
Jan White
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Trying to upload the picture again. If it's not here, it's not that important
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Looks like you have several more weeks before ground freeze. I’d get them in, and maybe add some chicken manure or something to generate a little heat( not much it will kill spawn). I’ve put down spawn pretty much all year and winecaps are very aggressive. When they fruit in late fall I’ve replanted the stems and they have grown new patches just fine.

I prioritize stuff I must do in the spring and anything else I do in the fall. Ironically I seed my spring plants in the fall if they need stratification. Let nature do the work! Areas I run chickens in the fall/winter not such a good plan.
 
Jan White
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TJ, in your experience how important is moisture right away? Fresh, unwatered wood chips okay for a week or three?
 
Eric Hanson
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Jan,

You are right that the fresh wood chips won't absorb as much water as broken down chips, but I would be surprised if they were totally dried out.  I always really soak my wood chips right after inoculation.  I have had some really good exchanges with fellow Permie Hugo Morvan and he had a unique approach to conserving moisture--he covered his chips with a layer of cardboard (held in place by more wood chips or almost anything).  If you had them, you might be able to mix some grass clippings in with the wood chips.  The grass clippings will break down faster and hold more water initially.  Moreover, the grass clippings will promote some bacterial decomposition and Wine Caps like to work with bacteria.

Given your description of your climate, I am thinking more and more that a fall time inoculation is better than waiting.  It is your choice of course, but I don't think the Wine Cap spawn will die off--I get freezing temperatures too--but it might at least get a fall time toehold and the real decomposition might then start in spring, a great time for growing mushrooms, but not always a great time for inoculating mushrooms.  By having the spawn already there and waiting, you should be able to get a leg up on growing spawn and decomposing wood.

Good luck in whatever decision you make,

Eric
 
Tj Jefferson
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Adequate moisture is very important and if you have the means to soak them like mentioned or use cardboard you should have good success. Winecaps are really really tough and forgiving. Others like blewits are a little more picky. Still pretty easy though as long as they do not dry out until they have a month or so of time to invade to the depth they want.
 
Jan White
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Thanks for your advice, everyone.

I was convinced to try starting them this fall, but when I went to buy the spawn I found everyone was out until spring anyway. That's what I get for dithering.

So, I'll try to make it work in the spring and report back.
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