Mushroom Workshop

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We got after oyster mushroom spawn inoculation into red alders at Leafhopper Farm this weekend! People came to learn about plug spawn inoculation into logs and together, we spread mycelium into about 50 good sized logs. The oysters were chosen for remediation support, as the area we left the logs in is within the stream buffer, which will be treated with glyphosates to overtake the blackberry and knot-weed plants. The oyster mushrooms are very good at breaking down and neutralizing many kinds of petrochemicals- including herbicides. The inoculated logs will have time to develop a strong mushroom population to combat the chemical treatment to come.

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Working together with others is such a pleasure, and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves as we worked. Lots of warm sun helped make the day much more relaxing as we took terns moving logs, drilling holes in them, plugging with dowels of inoculated sawdust compressed into the logs to colonize the wood. We also experimented cutting notches and filling them with loos spawn, then sealing them up with natural clay, found in our creek. We eventually covered the clay with skunk cabbage leaves to keep the rain off. I hope this method works, for it is much easier and fast for on the ground logs.

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Some of the logs were carried up to the pole barn to recive more plugs at another station. Here we could plug into a wall outlet and run a much more powerful drill, which made plugging faster. On Sunday, we hauled the rest of the finished logs back to the site near the creek to be spread out on very wet ground. The added moisture will make the logs easy to colonize, encouraging the spawn to travel along the log and eventually fruiting out into oyster mushrooms.

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Most of the logs were sealed using organic soy wax. This process can be very messy to put down a tarp or work in the grass. In the picture below the last of the larger logs is sealed. There is a much smaller log laying on the tarp, which is plugged with shiitake mushroom spawn as a personal take home experiment. It is much harder to establish this strain of mycelium into a log, so I wished everyone good luck in trying. I’m sure with luck, a few flushes will come from them.

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Beautiful inoculated logs cascade out the back of the truck, ready to go onto the landscape as more rain brings the perfect habitat to these fungal starts. The work of these eager learners was such a blessing for Leafhopper Farm. These logs will help mitigate pollution in the stream and on the landscape. They will continue to produce mushrooms for years to come- we will not harvest the first few years of flushes, but if new alder is stacked on the older logs long after the glyphosate treatments are gone, future oysters could be harvested for personal use.

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It’s the largest inoculation at the farm to date, with about 1,500 plugs going onto the landscape. The work took roughly 6 hours with the help of 15 people over two days. It was not a complex operation, and everyone said they felt they had helped and learned something in the workshop. I was so relived to hear that the weekend was enjoyable, and am in the process of planning more opportunities over the coming months to work together at Leafhopper Farm.

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