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Wine cap mushroom substrate...

 
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I just ordered my first mushrooms to grow! Wine caps. What I have in abundance is mixed twigs and leaf rakings. Also I have access to sawdust from spruce and poplar. Will these work on their own? Would I need to mix them together or layer?  
Also would it be best to set up the beds under and on the north sides of bushes and trees? Do I need to avoid under spruce trees because if the needles?
I am in central Alberta Canada.
Thank you for the help.
 
pioneer
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Location: SF Bay, California Zone 10b
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I set up a couple wine cap tubs using a bag of wood chips from Home Depot. So far the mycelium has been very strong. There are also knobcone pines here that drop needles into the mushroom tubs, and they seem largely unaffected.

I haven't gotten fruits yet, but I also haven't set it up in any way to encourage fruiting. They usually start doing so when they're running out of food, is my understanding.

As for planting on the north side of plants, that will help reduce water loss through evaporation, but I also know that wine caps are known for handling full sun well. The amount of moisture already in the soil and the amount of rainfall you get will be factors, you want it to be moist without being completely waterlogged all the time.
 
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Lora-Leah,

I don’t know specifically about the spruce, but the poplar sawdust should be a great medium for growing wine caps.  From what I understand, the sap from conifers tends to inhibit fungi but sawdust might sidestep that issue.  Wine caps are sorta hardwood specialists so they tend to live a long time on woods like oaks hickories (I grow them on these substrates).  Give them softer woods like poplar and they will ravenously consume it.  Give wine caps straw and they will devour it in a single season—I have seen it happen.

My suggestion would be to mix the sawdust together but save a bit of poplar to help start out the wine caps.  Once the wine caps get started I suspect they will be unstoppable.

Good luck!  I hope to hear how your project works out.

Eric
 
Lora-Leah Andersen
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I am ok with reloading the substrate often as long as it is something I have accesse to easily. Otherwise I may as well go and buy mushrooms right?
 
Eric Hanson
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Lora-Leah,

Just as a hint: in order to get actual mushrooms, the fungi first needs to completely devour the whole substrate.  The main life cycle of the fungi is in the hyphae.  The actual mushrooms that we see are actually a sign that the fungi is starving.  This is backwards from plants which show a healthy fruit (the mushrooms are a fruit) when the plant has ample fertility.

Where I am going with this is that maybe a good way to go is to start a batch of wine caps, harvest actual mushrooms and then add on a new layer of relatively fresh substrate.  

BTW, the compost the Wine Caps leave behind is amazing for plants and there is no reason why you can’t grow both mushrooms and plants at the same time in the same bed.  They actually help each other.

Good luck and let us know what you think.

Eric
 
Lora-Leah Andersen
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Thank you Eric,  this is so very interesting.  I usually do so much research before I buy something new. I was a rebel this time.
 
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