Saturday, February 25, 2017

Fungi Demystify – Garden Giant Mushroom Cultivation

Mushrooms can be a fantastic part of your edible landscape.

I’m going to tell you about one species that is easy and can be quick to make you some mushrooms to eat.  While the mushrooms are making you some healthy and delicious food, they are doing even more service to your garden and soil.  More about that later.
Shady Garden?  Rejoice!
You may have a hundred acres of field and forests, or, you may have a small lot with a home near your workplace.  Either way, what you need is a shady area or side of the house, some wood chips, mushroom mycelium and water, water , water.  Easy peasy.
Most of the mushrooms we grow are inoculated into logs.  This is true for shitake, oyster, chicken of the woods, lion’s mane, and, reishi.  Not wine cap however. No drilling. 

Names, names

Mushrooms have been cultivated for a long time in many places around the world so names can vary for the same species.  Garden Giant is synonymous with Wine Cap and King Stropharia.  There is probably more.
Most importantly use wood chips from unsprayed hardwoods.  Try a local arborist, they might be glad to drop of a load of them to you for free.

The Mushroom Lasagna Patch

The Wine Cap/Garden Giant mushroom patch can be any shape you wish. Fashion a ring around a deciduous tree in your yard, alongside the shady part of the house, it doesn’t matter. Clear it out a bit down to about a depth of about 6 inches.  Put down a layer of cardboard to retain moisture and reduce the growth of competing mycelium. Lay about 2 inches of wood chips, then some Wine Cap spawn available from jiovi®.  It runs about $25 and will cover about 50 square feet.  Next, put about 2 more inches of wood chips and the other half of the spawn.  No need to buy any more spawn after the first planting.  Wine Cap easily self-propagates.
Expect flushes of mushrooms throughout the season from late spring to fall; wine cap has a wide range of fruiting temperatures (40F to 90F). After the first fruiting, either feed the patch more wood chips or scoop a bucketful from the mycelium-rich patch and start a new one, using a ratio of approximately 1:20 (or one bucket of spawn to 20 new chips). Or let it go and plant right into the rich compost it has created.
Without continued feeding the patch will expend itself into fertile compost and stop fruiting. To re-feed the original patch just dump on 2 to 3 inches of moistened fresh chips, mix in well and recover with straw.

Companion Planting in your Vegetable Garden

In mid-summer, once your Wine Cap garden has fruited in your chip garden, remove some of the chips that have the white mycelium through them, and spread them in some chip mulch under your vegetable plants.

A Word about Light

Wine cap mushroom patch does like a bit of light. Think dappled shade. Shade cloth rigged up out in the middle of a sunny garden can work.  (As well as under your tomato plants) Be creative. Have fun!
Make some circles around the larger plants and mix it in.  Pick the plants that are the larger ones and create their own shade.  You’ll be harvesting mushrooms there too and they will be helping your vegetables by breaking down the organic matter in the soil and chips making the nutrients available.
They can grow as big as 5 pounds!  They can also naturalize in your garden. Garden Giants are fast to fruit.  Plant (inoculate) in the spring and you can have mushrooms in a few months if you are lucky.  They may take longer depending on growing conditions.

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