Water Wonder

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We’re in the high water stage of Weiss Creek’s winter flow. After several inches of rain in the past week, the soil is finally saturated and surface runoff is cresting.

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Bank erosion of glacial till

Fresh bank erosion demonstrates the power of water; cutting into glacier compaction, loosening clay and rock which has been locked together for thousands of years. This stream bed changes a lot during these floods, and over the years, the farm policy has been not to disturb the stream bed or remove fallen trees.

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logs of fallen trees across stream

The logs which lay across the stream often block up debris, forming dams which, in flood stage, create beautiful waterfalls over the jams. As the logs soak up in the waters, woods eating mushroom spores happily inoculate within the substrate of the timbers. In the case of the big leaf maple Acer macrophyllum pictured in foreground above, the mycelium is clearly visible under the moss as it begins to colonize the log.

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Last fall, the southern log pictured above was inoculated with Rishi and Lion’s Mane strains of mushroom spawn. Perhaps these awakening hyphae strands are some of those plugs from last year. With a good flood soaking, maybe this log will now fruit out.

There are some logs in this area which have been fruiting out since they were first introduced to the land about three years ago. White birch Betula papyrifera is not common in our area, but planted as a cultivar for its aesthetic qualities. It is a great mushroom cultivating species of wood, and has been fruiting out blue oysters for a few years. These fungi friends naturally inoculated these logs. A few red alder logs next to these birch have not fruited once, though they were inoculated manually with shiitake a few years ago.

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Looking closely at the other purposefully inoculated BLM across the stream, more white mycelium clusters begin to surface in other areas of dowel implanting. Without microscope testing, it will be hard to know which kind of fungi we’re dealing with until a recognizable fruit appears. The other maple log just north of our inoculated experiment has been hosting artist conks Ganoderma applanatum which are another great native strain of medicinal shoom in our area. 

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The habitat shared by all of this dead wood is identical. In the picture below you see all these talked about logs resting together. This goes to show that colonizing a log with your chosen strain of mushroom may become more difficult than you think. Let’s hope that the rishi and lions mane strains have done their work on the maple log. Regardless, we know that something fungi driven is happening in the log, and the land and stream will benefit regardless of the mushroom which fruits. As the farmer waiting at the other end of this mystery, I have my hopes that it’s a purposefully introduced species.

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In another area of the land, further downstream, there is a much more regulated inoculation space, including selected red alders with plug spawn stacked to prevent external colonization from stray native strands. These logs were plugged last spring, and are now also beginning to show signs of mycelium colonies. The mottled white end of the log show in the picture below is a wonderful example. This stack is inoculated with Pleurotus ostreatus.

Pearl

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Pearl Oyster stack

Another stack nearby hosts Trametes versicolor, a very common mushroom already in our area. These log ends are much more mottle and notably discolored. It’s no surprise considering the abundant success of this strain in the area already. It’s wonderful to track the progress of our first full set of dowel inoculated stacks of logs made from storm induced downed trees on the land. In future, we hope to be producing our own inoculation materials at Leafhopper Farm. For now, to cultivate more genetic diversity on the landscape, we’ll import a few strands from noteworthy labs in our bio region.

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Our temperate rain forest environment here in The Pacific Northwest is a perfect habitat for mushrooms. Our backyard here at The Farm is a host to countless strains of fungal magic, and we hope soon, some cultivated verities too. In the mean time, we’ll continue to explore and document our journey with the mushrooms at Leafhopper Farm. It’s one of the cornerstones of our holistic restoration model for the landscape, and we hope to inspire other land stewards to look into cultivating mycelium for the enrichment of the soil and living biomass of the forest floor.

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By taking the time to invest in cultivar species for agricultural production, fungi could become another established food and medicine in our local economy. There are many examples of this already growing across the world, and mycology is gaining in popularity, as people begin to rediscover the endless uses of our fungal friends. They are thriving all around us with the help of our wet weather and the endless supply of rich organic material. Leafhopper Farm looks forward to cultivating more mushrooms and workshops of mycoremediation and mushroom log cultivation.

We will be hosting a talk Friday,  January 19th (2018) from 7-9pm at Carnation Tree Farm

Saturday-Sunday Jan 20-21st Leafhopper Farm will be hosting a mycoremidiation workshop and log inoculation class. For more information please contact: info@leafhopperfarm.com

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