Friday, June 15, 2012

Mushrooms Growing on the Moon???

Today I would like to give out my secrets -well almost all my secrets- to the reclamation experiment in the Sechelt Gravel Mine that is managed by the Lehigh Heidelberg Cement Group.
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 chose to use equal parts compost produced by Salish Soils and Alder 'Alnus' chips in the Mushroom Bed.
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

The next step was to put down some compost. I use compost because we wanted to grow some vegetables in the garden this year.

This was a big job to do by hand- it would have been nice to have a tractor- but still i completed this garden in less than one day with two other peoples' help!!!

After the compost side of this was completed I filled in the rows between with wood chips.

As you can see above- the stretched beds of compost I made with wells lengthwise so as to catch water better to the seeds below. The seeds of corn and purple wax beans were inoculated with micorrhizae. I put a thin layer of leaf mulch over this to retain moisture for both the seeds and the micorrhizae. The next step was to add the Stropharia's commonly known as Wine Caps or Garden Giants to the wood chip rows in between. This I recommend that instead of sprinkling a thin layer of the spawn out you take handfuls of intact mycelium and place these clumps staggered down the bed.  The mycelium from the Garden Giants will start a food chain effect. Just wait and see what happens.

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.

The above picture exhibits the bed after 1 layer of chips then a layer of compost on top. We then add the mycelium of the Wine Caps over this layer in clumps, then more wood chips, and then more compost. This is very labor intensive in the installation part although it will prove to save much labor later on.

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.

This is what the patch looked like in May of 2012 and this is a clip of me harvesting the fruit of our labour. On this day I harvested over 50 pounds of fruit(mushrooms) in less than an hour bypassing all the other approximately 400 pounds that were over ripe that I had missed. The soil today is ready for a quick tilling to mix things up a bit. When I brought the mycelium from my home garden I snuck in a few worms and now the patch is full of them. Yes worms on the moon!!!
Wow people did this ever work!!!! And Thank You Paul Stamets for introducing me to the wonderful world of Fungi!!!!

Remember that all is possible with the Funguy!!!

No comments:

Post a Comment