Inoculation

Leafhopper Farm has been working on mushroom inoculation on the land for a few years now. So far, the shiitake have not fruited, but other wild species are present now and more species are being introduced.

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Turkey Tails fruit next to dormant Shiitake logs

The wild strains are thriving, and more diverse species show up each season. Though the introduced varieties have yet to take hold, I think any new mycelia is good for the land, and it can take years for a cultivated strain to take hold.

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A type of Oyster sprouts from an old log, while an unidentified strain pops out of the wet ground below

Cultivated strains of mushroom from Fungi Perfecti come in plugs which are tapped into drilled holes in logs. I’ve used wood from the land, mostly alder, with Shiitakes. Now I’m taking advantage of fallen wood, including these large maples, to attempt to establish other strains of mushroom.

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Ganoderma lucidum, (Japanese Reishi) though not a native to The Pacific Northwest, is an analogue species with great medicinal qualities. It grows well on maple, along with another well know medicinal species, Hericium erinaceus (Lion’s Mane), which is native to this area, but hard to find in the wild. Pleurotus ostreatus var. columbinus, is the classic Blue Oyster, which grows well in this area. It thrives in cooler climate, and can spawn on maple and alder wood. I’ll be felling some young alders for inoculation next week. For this project, I focused on the maple, hoping to get my cultivated species established in the wood before the hardy natives, which are more likely to be polypore varieties which are far less appetizing.

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After plugging the logs, I have to seal the inoculation substrate with wax, in this case, a soy based wax. This keeps other mycelia from getting in too. The work to drill, plug, and seal goes slow, and I would sometimes loos track of holes and plugs as i worked across the log. Power tools in water is also a risky factor, preventing me from inoculating the whole log. The plug spawn does have a good foot hold in the maple, and I hope the inoculation produces some great new mushroom species for Leafhopper Farm. I also hope some of the spores from these mushrooms are carried by water to other logs, allowing the mycelia to spread down stream, supporting a healthy diversity of mushrooms in the watershed to purify the stream.

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