jgh
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accelerating composting with mushrooms?

hey all, first post! looks like a cool forum.

I've been growing some oyster mushrooms on coffee which produces some nice compost. I also have a big heap in the back yard (4' high, 6' diameter) of normal yard cutting material that I'm trying to compost (some sticks, leaves, dead weeds, rotting fruit, etc).

having seen how aggressively oysters can break coffee down into compost, I was wondering if anyone knows of a mushroom species that might thrive in the type of compost heap I just described. I have found many threads with people being alarmed about mushrooms growing in there heap but none about doing it on purpose. it seems to me that this is not only desirable but ideal since the mycelium should really help to break down everything.

a big part of the reason why I'd like to try mushrooms is because the heap is very not-sophisticated-- in fact it probably breaks every rule in the book. our current strategy is: put stuff on top, turn every once in a while. that's about it. :) no special containers or anything-- it's just a big mound. so I'm thinking that the mycelium could perhaps offer a significant helping hand to this lazy approach..

if anyone knows a species that would thrive, I'd love to hear about it.

thanks!
jerry

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applestar
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Welcome to the forum. :D

Last year, I grew the oysters on coffee grounds, as well as straw, PC'd ground corncobs, shredded paper, etc. too. It was a LOT of fun and I posted [url=https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=20130]a big long thread about it[/url]. I had planned on repeating the experiments again, but due to some complications in the fall, I was unable to do so. (I HAVE been meaning to post an addendum to that thread, so thank you for bringing this up :wink:)

The thing is, unless you're planning to leave your "compost" pile to decompose naturally, a typical compost pile isn't really suited to mushroom culture because first and foremost, you will be turning it every so often and disturbing it. Then, a successfully hot compost pile would heat up too hot. In addition, a good compost pile would contain a diverse community of living organisms that will compete with the intended edible mushrooms.

On the other hand, if what you want to do is to create an undisturbed outdoor mushroom bed out of materials you've described, I *think* the best fit would be Morels, if I remember my research right. I believe you want to sprinkle hardwood ash on the bed for best morel growth (some people say build a wood fire on the intended site, then build the bed on the cold remains).

After your Oyster mushroom coffee substrate is spent -- either stops producing or green mold sets in (which often happens), it will be a great addition to your compost pile crumbled up. If you have a worm compost bin going, do give some to the worms as well. :D I've also used the in between flushes soaking water to water my plants with and to moisten my seed starting mix and the seeds grew great. 8)

jgh
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applestar wrote:Welcome to the forum. :D

Last year, I grew the oysters on coffee grounds, as well as straw, PC'd ground corncobs, shredded paper, etc. too. It was a LOT of fun and I posted [url=https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=20130]a big long thread about it[/url]. I had planned on repeating the experiments again, but due to some complications in the fall, I was unable to do so. (I HAVE been meaning to post an addendum to that thread, so thank you for bringing this up :wink:)
sweet pics! looks like you have (had?) a nice little operation going there. my setup is still very small but I have a few pics from my current batch here:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/jerryhebert/sets/72157625842603406/
The thing is, unless you're planning to leave your "compost" pile to decompose naturally, a typical compost pile isn't really suited to mushroom culture because first and foremost, you will be turning it every so often and disturbing it. Then, a successfully hot compost pile would heat up too hot. In addition, a good compost pile would contain a diverse community of living organisms that will compete with the intended edible mushrooms.
well, that's the thing. I'm not really sure what I want to do yet. I just know that my last batch made coffee into compost in a matter of months, so it seemed like there might be some mushroom species that could thrive in a heap and do similarly speedy composting. I guess the implication here is that you'd need a mushroom that isn't bothered by warmth or anything else you might find in a normal heap. I'll definitely look into morels to see if they would do the trick! thanks :)
After your Oyster mushroom coffee substrate is spent -- either stops producing or green mold sets in (which often happens), it will be a great addition to your compost pile crumbled up. If you have a worm compost bin going, do give some to the worms as well. :D I've also used the in between flushes soaking water to water my plants with and to moisten my seed starting mix and the seeds grew great. 8)
cool, I do have worms, though they are getting less attention from me sadly. I was intentionally not putting any oyster substrate with the worms for fear that I might end up with a mushroom bin instead of a worm bin. you don't think it would be a problem for the wormies? I'll probably end up putting in the main heap though, like you said. even if it breaks down a little bit, that'd be cool. :)

rot
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fungal in the jungle

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When my slow, cool, build as you go, no turn bins go fungal, I see serious reduction in volume and at that point it becomes a digesting machine and I can I think if I do it right, I can just keep feeding and watch it reduce and then feed it again on a monthly basis.

I don't seed it or anything I just wait for the mushrooms to move in.

Once a month I feed it about 30 gallons of stuff and keep it moist. I'll typically feed from anywhere from 6 months to over a year and let set about a year of just watering.

Low energy, great compost, worm city.

Great photos everyone. Thanks.

two cents
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jgh
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Re: fungal in the jungle

awesome, rot!

do you have any idea which species of mushroom is taking hold? got any pics?

also, do you have any estimation on how long it takes to go from a fresh pile-o-stuff to soil with your setup? sounds like 1.5~2 years if I'm extrapolating correctly.

thanks!

rot
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no pics - sorry

..
Yeah I'm on basically two year cycles. I started on 18 month cycles but I'm trying to extend the part longer and longer. I made some bins up out of wood pallets with window screen nailed down to keep the critters out. They sit on pavers on top of the bare ground so worms get in but not the tree roots or the burrowing rodents.

No idea about what kind of mushrooms. Just plain local types. I fill the bottom of my bins with about 6 inches of chipped woody stuff to start a new bin and then there's sticks through out and I know the mushrooms like that stuff. I don't get oodles of mushrooms but since I can add on top of them and in about a months time, just about when I'm ready to add again, I'll get a few more so I know the fungus fibers are running through out the bin.

I don't know where my pics are and I have clean forgotten my flicker account ID and password. I seem to have reached capacity for IDs and passwords. I'll have to see if I can resurrect things but no promises.

two cents
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jgh
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sweet, thanks for the info everyone! I'll let you know if I figure anything out about doing it on purpose. It'd be awesome if an edible like morels can take hold since they're tasty.

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I know when Paul Stamets did his diesel remediation profect he used oyster mushrooms; seems that if they will handle [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polycyclic_aromatic_hydrocarbon]PAHs[/url] (even dispose of them!), then they should be able to handle about anything we might throw at them in a pile...

[url=https://www.ted.com/talks/paul_stamets_on_6_ways_mushrooms_can_save_the_world.html]Dr. Stamets' work[/url] is well worth a look, as is [url=https://www.fungiperfecti.com/]his website[/url]...

HG
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applestar
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Well, that's certainly true... And glad you provided those links! Make sure to take a look at the Permaculture with mycological twist page.

The reason I went with morels is the mention of rotten fruits and greens/leaves mix. Morels are supposed to be good with forest duff (or casually gathered surface material+wooded area soil) whereas most Oyster beds are made with wood chips or straw or fresh-cut logs and live stumps. Not by experience but based on what I've read, so I would be most curious to hear back from you, jgh. 8)

P.s. I meant to comment that the use of window box for your oyster substrate was inspired! I might have to borrow that idea next time.... :wink:

rot
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Just an observation

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During a visit to a mushroom farm it was explained to us that they needed to sterilize their compost before they grew mushrooms in it. It was at one point explained that mushrooms like their compost clean for some reason but later allusions were made about sanitation for their commercial product. I'm not quite clear exactly why they needed to sterilize their compost first. They used horse manure and stall litter from race tracks around the state.

By the way, you can get lots of compost at mushroom farms really cheap.
..

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They pasteurize or sterilize the mushroom growing media to reduce or eliminate competition from other fungal and bacterial organisms. Same idea for yogurt and cheese culture.

Spent mushroom composts make great soil amendments and compost pile additions. I have to admit to a level of uncertainty when it comes to non-organic sources because they do use quite a bit of/unexpected amount of chemicals, and I would get the compost from organic mushroom farms if I could.

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Oyster mushrooms will breakdown anything! See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XI5frPV58tY!
We would not

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Beat me to it! hehe
We would not

jgh
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yeah, that's a cool Stamets video. It's what got me thinking about trying to intentionally colonize my compost heap.

I'm skeptical that oysters would take very well unless I created a huge amount of spawn to do so but then that would be kind of impractical for my purposes. I'll definitely be dropping my spent substrate in there to see if it takes but due to the competition applestar mentioned in the previous post and the second, it would probably be tough for them to take hold.

Even trying to colonize boiled substrates (sterilized not pasteurized) can go wrong if mold or other contaminants take hold before the mycelium fully colonizes it. I lost two spawn bags this way. I also lost another bucket due to fungus gnats... so it isn't exactly Plug-n-Play all the time. :)

It'd be cool to see more details of Stamets' stuff but I haven't picked up his literature yet. It seems like the trick to accomplishing the radical feats must have something to do with the quantity of spawn he uses though, since oysters can overtake mold if it's strong enough and even eat nematodes (!!!).

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It is extremely difficult to actually completely sterilize soil or compost. I think whatever they do at the shroom farm is close enough, and maybe works 99.9% for funguses. I just know that in my years in the lab I used to do some studies requiring 'sterile control' soil. We would autoclave the soil - for those who don't know that's like pressure-cooking at a temperature well above boiling and high pressure to boot. It would be pretty dead for a little while but after a few weeks in the test system you could culture microbes again. Some of em are pretty durable.
Tox

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Let's not forget the most common soil bacteria on the planet, Bacillus subtilis, is also the active ingredient for many of the new biological antifungals on the market today (Companion, Serenade, Kodiak, etc.)...

I return yet again to Dr. Ingham's admonishments about humans picking and choosing biology for compost; we do not understand all the selections of a million generations, we do not understand the specific interactions with plants, and most importantly, the plants make the final selections on biology to work with or not, so why would we choose instead of letting nature do the selection (as it always has done)?

The word I would use to answer that is hubris.

HG
Scott Reil

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Well then, how does one encourage mycelium?

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HG,

I recall you were once talking about letting the compost go fungal. The idea was to mimic the forrest floor where fungal action does most of the work breaking things down. Is there anything one can do to encourage the local mushrooms in a pile or a bin beyond keeping moist and using a lot of woody stuff in a no-turn operation?

Can you only really count on mushrooms in muggy summer conditions?

Any tricks? Tactics? Strategies?

Thanks in advance
..

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Rot I would tell you your best bet to get the results of the woodland floor is to mimic the woodland floor, right down to innoculating with some woodland floor.

We used to chip a lot of wood, then regrind, hit it with fish and kelp to get things started, and then let it sit. Before long you would see the white hyphae starting to creep about. I think of leaf duff as the place I usually see this in the woods, so leaves are great, and I have seen amazing results from cocoa hulls as far a fungal foods go; lousy mulch but great fungal compost food. Paper would certainly not be far amiss.

LOTS of carbon, a good bit of moisture and some time to itself. Not a lot of ways to game this system; bacterial is easy, fungal is harder. Choose you innoculants wisely.

HG
Scott Reil

rot
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Just looking for some fungus

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I'm not inoculating. I'm just considering making things inviting.

I think I've got the leaves and the carbons. I let it sit. I've just been slacking on the moisture lately. It's supposed to be the rainy season but I think we got it all in one week last month. Not worried. I know I've got mycelium in the mix I'm just not seeing the mushrooms right this moment.

Thanks for the spores of wisdom
..

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Spores of wisdom :twisted: :lol:

Nice, Rot! :wink:
Scott Reil

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i was going to butt in but THG got all the good stuff. one thing i will add with fungi is you have to be patient for them to get going, its always a slow start. once there going though they do there job well. some of the finest forest duff i collect comes from the most fungal rich. great for forest gardens and compost piles.
For all things come from earth, and all things end by becoming earth.

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And the other thing to note is that fungal is NOT bacterial compost and all the turning is counter-productive. Turning breaks fungal hyphae and they do not grow once broken (which is why I like no-till gardening).

So we just let the pile sit for a year, double chipped it, and added fish hydrolysate before piling into a bin to sit until use. This was for tea production, so less necessary for those making garden compost.

HG
Scott Reil

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