A little history first...
Years ago there were some aerial photos taken of a high plateau over Sechelt, British Columbia. This area consisted of what looked like a marsh. Well this marsh later became the Sechelt Gravel Mine. This area was dredged to approximately 150 feet deep and roughly 30 acres space. When I arrived at the site last year (2011) the mined area was just being capped. This means that the hole was filled in with the ingredients in the cement process---silt and clay that are in lesser demand. The land area now being back to the original ground level was like standing on the surface of the moon.
Our experiment is to bring life back to this very depleted area--the moon.
I felt that the first challenge would be to install a patch of Saprophytic Fungi. Given the location in being completely exposed to light and a very dominant wind I chose Stropharia rugoso-annulata as my mushroom for the job because of its history on fields of corn back in Europe and its love for warm conditions with tons of light.
I had a local Tree Pruning company deliver me great looking wood chips and we used in total 40 cubic yards and 10 cubic yards of Compost.
The land was initially leveled with a bulldozer. I then requested that approximately 10 cubic yards of Crusher Dust(the dust that accumulates on the side of the rock crusher in the mine that is full of beneficial minerals that is similar to glacial rock dust) be spread about 2-3 inches deep on the bed site
So I did two different techniques that I suspect would be appropriate in the case of future farming.
1. The first as described above were you do strips so as when the wood chips get consumed by the fungi, they are plowed over onto the row of compost and more chips are replaced. To do this over and over to only stop when you have achieved your desired soil depth. The rest is left to go to soil after that.
2. The second experiment is to create layers like a lasagna. The alternate layers of fresh Alder(or almost any deciduous) wood chips and compost.
The second patch was started just like the first with a layer of crusher dust. To this one I even added a bunch of broken up chunks of clay to the mix that I got by using a back hoe to dig some out of the settling pond area adjacent the bed.
Next I started the layers of wood chips to compost.
So has anyone ever seen anybody shovel and wheel compost around with visi-vests and hard hats???? Well those are the rules inside the cages of this garden in a gravel mine!!!
So when the final layer was completed we planted a cover crop of crimson clover to feed the mushrooms and to feed the patch with nitrogen. We also mixed in some granulated bentonite clay for its added effects on soil structure and plant health.
Wow people did this ever work!!!! And Thank You Paul Stamets for introducing me to the wonderful world of Fungi!!!!