Planting Spores in the Garden

The mycelium is white in the sawdust and ready to go.

The mycelium is white in the sawdust and ready to go.

If you remember the trenching, filling and designing the new veggie patch, then this post will make more sense to you. IMG_4786

The next step was to cardboard the pathways where Bermuda grass has been taking over, then mulch them as well.  The mulch makes it all look so nice!

Covered with mulch, the cardboard is only a memory.

Covered with mulch, the cardboard is only a memory.

Next it was time to plant.  We’d already  transplanted three-year old asparagus, and hopefully not shocked them so much that they won’t produce well this year.  The flavor of fresh asparagus defies description.

Asparagus popping up some feather shoots from its new home.

Asparagus popping up some feather shoots from its new home.

The strawberry bed was older and completely taken over by Bermuda grass, so it all was buried and I purchased new organic and extremely reasonably priced bareroot strawberries.

A bundle of twenty-five strawberries.

A bundle of twenty-five strawberries.

I purchased two June-bearing types and three ever-bearing,  heat-loving types, from www.groworganic.com.  When they bloom this year we’ll have to nip off the buds so that next year when their roots have taken hold and fed the crown, we can have lots of strawberries.

Soaking the  strawberry roots for a few minutes rehydrates  them.

Soaking the strawberry roots for a few minutes rehydrates them.

We planted some in the asparagus bed, which will do nicely as groundcover and moisture retention around the asparagus, while the asparagus keeps the heat off the strawberries.  Some we planted around the rock in the center of the garden.  The rest will be planted around fruit trees as part of their guilds.

Strawberries surround the rock.

Strawberries surround the rock.

 

We also planted rhubarb in the asparagus bed; these poor plants had been raised in the greenhouse for several months awaiting transplanting.

Rhubarb, really eager to be put in the ground.

Rhubarb, really eager to be put in the ground.

Hopefully the asparagus will protect them from the heat. I plan to raise more rhubarb from seed and plant them in other locations on the property, aiming for the coolest spots as they don’t like heat at all.

With a strong knife  (weak blades may snap) cut a cross in wet cardboard the pull aside the edges.

With a strong knife (weak blades may snap) cut a cross in wet cardboard the pull aside the edges.

The way to plant through cardboard is to make sure that it is wet, and using a strong knife make an x through the cardboard.  Use your fingers to pull the sides apart.  Stick your trowel down and pull up a good shovel full of dirt (depending on how deeply your plant needs to go.

Insert a trowel through the hole and scoop out some dirt.

Insert a trowel through the hole and scoop out some dirt.

The base of plants and the crowns of strawberries should all be at soil level.  Seeds usually go down  three times their size; very small seeds may need light to germinate). Gently plant your plant with a handful of good compost, then water it in.  You won’t have to water very often because of the mulch, so check the soil first before watering so that you don’t overwater.

Don't forget to water in the plants!

Don’t forget to water in the plants!

For the first time in years I ordered from the same source Jerusalem artichokes, or Sunchokes as they’ve been marketed.  They are like sunflowers with roots that taste faintly like artichoke.   We planted some of them in one of the quadrants, and the rest will be planted out in the gardens, where the digging of roots won’t disturb surrounding plants.

The oyster mushroom kit, or H.U.G.  You'll have to visit Fungi Perfecti to read up on it.

The oyster mushroom kit, or H.U.G. You’ll have to visit Fungi Perfecti to read up on it.

Most excitingly, we’ve purchased mushroom spores from Fungi Perfecti, which is Paul Stamet’s business, the man who wrote Mycelium Running and several other books about growing mushrooms for food and for health.  We bought inoculated plugs, but that will be another post.  Almost as exciting are the three bags of inoculated sawdust to spread in the garden!  They sell an oyster mushroom that helps digest straw and mulch, while boosting the growth of vegetables and improving the soil.  You also may be able to harvest mushrooms from it!  Talk about a wonderful soil solution, rather than dumping chemical fertilizers on the ground!

We’d already covered our veggie beds with wet cardboard and straw.

Really good soil from what is now a mulched pathway.

Really good soil from what is now a mulched pathway.

To give the mycelium a good foundation I dug up good soil from one of the field beds, which needed an access path through the middle.  By digging out the path I created new water-holding swales, especially when filled with mulch.

We pulled aside the straw.

We pulled aside the straw.

In the veggie garden we raked back the straw and lightly topped the wet cardboard with soil.  On  top of that we sprinkled the inoculated sawdust.

Good soil  over cardboard.

Good soil over cardboard.

On top of that we pulled back the straw and watered it in.

Sprinkling spore-filled  sawdust over the soil.

Sprinkling spore-filled sawdust over the soil.

The fungus will activate on the wet soil, eat through the cardboard to the  layers of mushroom compost and pidgin poo underneath that and help make the heavy clay beneath richer faster.

The fungi will immediately begin to colonize the  wet soil.

The fungi will immediately begin to colonize the wet soil.

 

We treated the two top most beds which have the worst soil, the sunchoke bed and the asparagus bed.  In four to six weeks we may see some flowering of the mushrooms, although the fungus will be working even as I sit here.  There are several reasons why I did this.  One, it is just totally cool.  Secondly, there is no way for me to purchase organic straw.  By growing oyster mushrooms in it, I’m hoping the natural remediation qualities of the oyster fungus will help cleanse the straw as it decomposes.  Oyster mushrooms don’t retain the toxins that they remove from soil and compost, so the mushrooms will still be edible. Fungus will assist rebuilding the soil and give the vegetables a big growing boost.  I know I’ve preached that vegetables like a more bacterial soil rather than fungal.  This is true, except that there are different types of fungus.  If you put wood  chips  in a vegetable bed, you’ll activate other decomposing fungus that will retard the growth of your tender veggies; the same wood chips around trees and woody plants will help them grow.  However these oyster mushrooms will benefit your veggies by quickly  decomposing compost and making the nutrients readily available to the vegetables.  Their hyphae will  help the veggie’s roots in their search for water and nutrients, too.

Straw is over the top and watered.  We can continue to plant in the beds  as the fungus does its magic.

Straw is over the top and watered. We can continue to plant in the beds as the fungus does its magic.

The other two bags of inoculated spores are for shaggy mane and garden giant, which we’ll find homes for in compost under trees.  More on that as we progress.  It is  so nice to be planting, especially since these are perennial plants where the most work is being done now.  Now we just need some rain!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *