Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Morel Dilemma

+Paul Stamets, in Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World, gives tentative support to using wood ash as an ingredient for the growing medium on an outdoor morel mushroom patch. +Tradd Cotter, author of Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation, says that Eastern U.S. morels found in the wild don't seem to have a preference for burnt areas. Tradd's research points to use of nonnutritive media for morel sclerotia to form and an underlying nutritive zone for hyphae to grow into. I am thinking that uncharged biochar (as opposed to wood ash) could act as the nonnutritive medium instead of the peat or coir Cotter recommends. After all, biochar would be a lot more native than peat from Canada or coir from the tropics.

I have a tulip poplar in my backyard, conveniently near my log spawn run area where I could make a morel rain garden by berming around the dripline and directing overflow from my rain barrel into the depression. There I could set up two plots, one with coir and one with biochar.  Then, using a slurry from a single morel species, I could inoculate the beds and see what grows. This, of course, means that I have to find time in the coming weeks to hunt for morels.

I wish it were as easy as this video makes homegrowing morels out to be, but you can get a general idea of how slurries are used to inoculate and how much fun it would be to harvest the mushrooms. Stamets and Cotter both cover spore mass slurries in their books.

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