Friday, November 7, 2008

Photo essay: creating a "Mushroom Tree"

As I mentioned last month, we are going to attempt to grow wild mushrooms in our back yard. I ordered 300 plugs of Chicken of the Woods spawn from Fungi Perfecti.

The first picture is of the bag of plug spawn.

The second is the back of the bag, showing a healthy bunch of plugs.

The third is looking into the bag, seeing a nice, healthy cottony network of mycelium around all the plugs. The instructions were to let the box and spawn sit for up to a month before using so the mycelium could recover from the shipping. When it looked this way, I decided it was ready to go.

The next picture shows a 5/16" drillbit and a few holes in the "diamond" pattern suggested in the 10-page booklet supplied by Fungi Perfecti. The bit was around 4 1/2" long, and I was shooting for a distance of 3-4" between holes -- so used it as a rough measure.

Next is 4 plugs set in the holes, and only the top one pounded in. I used a finish hammer for this, as I couldn't find our rubber mallet.

Next is a typical "field" of plugs. My impression is that you want fields like this, as opposed to thin runs in the wood. The plug spawn grows out from the spot where it was introduced until it reaches the next one growing out from another location. When the mycelium reach each other, they bind up and support each other's growth -- so wide fields of plugs are better than thin paths.

The last picture is the incipient Mushroom Tree itself. I did a nice wide collar of plugs about 4' off the ground all around the trunk (out of reach of chickens, who I think would go after the young mushrooms), then a nice wide stripe all the way up the front to a collar around the top. When it blooms (anywhere from 6-12 months from now), it's going to look totally cool.

Chicken of the Woods (Laetiporus sulphureus) mushrooms are not only edible, but really bright and beautiful -- check out these links for good pictures: Wikipedia, American, and some doozies from the New Jersey Mycological Association.

Enjoy creating edible art in your garden,



Marianna said...


Anonymous said...

fabulous - I want one! I have two 4' shitake logs that I got at our local farmers' market a few years ago but they need too much tending to give us many mushrooms at a time. They are good, though. They sit on a bench in the shade all summer and if the rains are adequate, they blossom. Turtles, squirrels, and whoknowswhat love them, too. sigh.

good luck!! va momma

Bpaul said...

Of course Ms. Marianna the Mushroom Queen likes this post :-)

Va Momma, maybe pick a species that grows naturally there. oysters perhaps?

Muse said...

Anton and I are massively jealous of your mushroom tree...we want one, too.

Bpaul said...

go for it Muse, you don't need much space, and I'm pretty sure Fungi Perfecti ships up there.

3-4 logs (small ones) "planted" in gravel in pots set about in your back yard full of mushrooms would rock.

Hell if you can get alder or maple or oak, you can grow shitakes!

Kate said...

oak trees in Victoria? No way!

I wonder if I could make one on my patio.....