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composting wood chips with chicken litter and fungi

 
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Nice going Louise!

That is a nice haul of mushrooms you have there!  And the conditions you have look perfect for growing them.  Congratulations.

Eric
 
Eric Hanson
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Louise,

Have you been able to check any of the compost left by the Wine Caps?  My experience is those wood chips are now amazing garden bedding.

Eric
 
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Eric,

I have! It seems very nice—dark, fluffy, great smell—but is also quite scant, almost a dusting. It’s amazing how much the chips broke down. Maybe in a year or two of growing in the same spot I might get enough depth to plant into.
 
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Fabulous harvest, Louise!  Are you drying them?

The easiest way I found to spread winecaps to friends and neighbors was just to give about a gallons worth of mycelium rich chips for them to put in their garden with lots of new chips for the mycelium to spread into.

In my case, I often had to encourage them to be patient. And place the mycelium impregnated chips in an area that was going to be easy to keep moist.  Alkaline and desert conditions are a challenge at the start.
 
Eric Hanson
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Louise,

If you have any wood chips left over, you could plant the bases of the mushrooms and they will spread and colonize the chips rather quickly.

Just a thought,

Eric
 
Eric Hanson
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Happy New Year 2024!!

I decided to go check on my mushroom beds as a way of welcoming in 2024.  Last summer was not a great time for me to garden—I was terribly busy and I was away from home for much of the season.  My beds simply grew fallow with weeds.  A couple of weeks ago I went out to clean the beds up by using some hedge trimmers to cut the weeds down at the ground and then haul them out.  I had a couple of observations.

1). The bedding was no longer feeling much like chips, but rather felt squishy.

2).  The 2x10’s that I worked so hard to paint with a safe coating to delay rot have finally succumb to the inevitable onslaught of fungal invasion.  I mean what else could happen?  At least I got a few years out of them.  I think I will re-establish with cement blocks.

So today I went out and stuck a garden fork in the bedding just to see what the conditions looked like under the surface.  When I put these in, the chips were rather large, more like chunks.  But the fork easily penetrated and when I turned it over, the bedding really no longer looked like wood at all.  The consistency was something between potting soil and coffee grounds.

Interestingly, the top two inches were dark, rich, almost black and seethed with short roots.  That section was nice and moist.  There were a few spots of fungus, but I bet that there was some healthy bacterial growth in there.  Below the top two inches the bedding was more coarse, drier, brown, and looked more like coffee grounds than potting soil.

At this point I am not certain what my next step will be.  Next summer will be another busy one and I do need to get some more permanent edging for the raised beds.  Perhaps this will be something that I conjure up in the coming weeks.  I will keep everyone updated.

Eric
 
Thekla McDaniels
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what is your climate? Eric.
If you don’t have a harsh winter, you could plant now and harvest as hot weather approaches. The climate I grew up in fava beans were grown over the winter. They withstand some frost, say down to 25° or thereabouts but not a full on cold winter where the ground is frozen.

There are many things that germinate in cold weather, underneath the snow. We have a wild member of the mustard family. I don’t know, genus and species, but we call it little blue mustard. It has very succulent, wonderful leaves, and that germinates under the snow. peas and spinach germinate in cool soil too. The conditions on the back of commercial seed packets are not necessarily what the plants require but more what the company will guarantee.

I am not suggesting you plant sunflowers now, but the seed packets say warm soil, summer temperatures, plant in June (northern hemisphere.  would that be December in the southern hemisphere?) and yet I have seen them  germinating early very early getting covered by a late snow and surviving that. About the sunflowers, I think those seeds ended up in crevices in the ground not big crevices, just between two wood chips, and in a little divot. So as you mull over what to do next, one possibility is to  sow a few  things now if you can find appropriate micro climates for them.

I know there is a website that gives germination conditions and requirements for various vegetables. I don’t have it available right now, but that would be somewhere to check.  it has great information like different germination, temperatures and lengths of time and what percentages of germination you get, so it’s great information when we are embarking on this kind of experiment! Good luck have fun and keep us posted.
 
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Hi, Eric, Happy New Year.

It sounds like you and your mushrooms are off to a great start for 2024!

I like hearing about your mushrooms and that your wood chips no longer resemble wood chips.
 
Eric Hanson
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Thekla,

I actually have a “crop” of weeds growing already.  It looks like some type of low growing clover, but I never bothered to precisely identify the exact species.  I also have some vining weed that appears to be dead or dormant.  I think I will leave these alone on the principle of always leaving a living root in the soil.  I am not certain what to do in spring.  I might smother with cardboard if I get the time—this will be a very busy semester for me.  I might smother and grow tomatoes both for food and as a shade crop.  Time will tell.

I am glad that this piqued your interest.

Eric
 
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Eric,
You sad "When I put these in, the chips were rather large, more like chunks. "
Ho big in inches or MM/CM, are you calling chunks I ask because I have not found Hardwood sawdust or hardwood chips. I will use some wheat straw, but I need some hard wood &  may have to chop the limbs with an ax, so how big should I start with??? Thanks.
 
Eric Hanson
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Hi Joe,

The chunks I am referring to are as large as 3 inches across (75 mm).  Sometimes the pieces came out in long strips that were maybe 75 mm at the widest and 300 mm in length.  I should add that these were the longest pieces and the majority were well under the 75 mm size I mentioned.  Many of the pieces were on the order of 5 mm or less.

The issue was that the chipper that I had rented had TERRIBLY dull chipping blades and therefore did not so much chip the wood as beat it to death.  Sometimes it would beat it so much that the wood got really flexible and wound around the chipping apparatus and had to be cleaned manually (engine off of course!).  If I had better blades, the chips would be smaller and more uniform in size.

Hope that helps,

Eric
 
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