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One crop indoors. Spawn can be placed outdoors for creating natural patches, to encourage Black Morel fruitbody formation. A fine layer (1 inch) of moistened vermiculite aids aeration. Since the physical separation of the the nutritional seed layer from the nutritionally poor peat moss is not necessary, this technique is uniquely different than those which have been patented by Ower et alia. The pH optima for fruiting falls between 6. 5-8.0.

* This is a proposed initiation strategy based on my observations of natural fruitings of the Morel and laboratory research with Morchella angusticeps, the Black Morel. This strategy will be amended and improved over time.

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Recommended Containers for Fruiting: Tray of sufficient depth (10-12 inches) to accommodate the above with holes for drainage.

Yield Potentials: Estimating from the photographs of the indoor method used by Morel Mountain, yields appear to be in the 1 lb. per square foot range. Since Morels are hollow, the number of musl rooms per square foot weighs less than the same number of similarly sized solid mushrooms, tor instance Shiitake.

Harvest Hints: Black Morels are best picked before the ridge edges become darkened and spores are released. When the mushrooms cease developing, the margins of the folds darken, wilt, and dry.

Form of Product Sold to Market: Fresh, dried, and powdered. Morel Mountain has fresh Morels year-round. Fungi Perfect! sells Black Morel spawn for outdoor inoculation. Their addresses are listed in the Resource section in the Appendix IV.

Nutritional Content: 20% protein (N x 4.38), 4.8% fat, 8.7% fiber, 64.4% carbohydrates. * Medicinal Properties: Not known to this author.

Flavor, Preparation & Cooking: A superb edible, this mushroom should be well cooked as many individuals are sensitive to it in the raw state. Morels work well in stir-fries and in a wide range of preparations. Please refer to the recipes in Chapter 24.

Comments- Morels can not be easily co-cultivated with other gourmet and medicinal mushrooms in the same growing room. Once a cultivator succeeds in getting to the stage of "wh t; tuft" formation, humidity and temperature is critical for fruitbody development. (See Figure 363.) At this stage, a different set of environmental stimuli is introduced. I am proposing such a strategy in the above Growl i Parameter section. Humidity levels should be lowered below the range specified for most mush-

r01For more information, consult Ower (1982), Ower et al. (1986, 1988), Leonard & Volk (1992), Volk & Leonard (1989), Volk (1990). and Sanderson (1969).

* This analysis based on Morchella esculenta. Taken from The Biology & Cultivation of Edible Mushrooms, ed. by Chang & Hayes, 1978.

CHAPTER 2 2

At our farm, I have found that the spent substrate generated in the course of Sh'itake cultivation is in itself a valuable by- | product. More mushrooms can be grown upon it! The mushroom cultivator can implement a circuit of recycling by sequenc' lg species on the same substrate, resulting in the maximum yield of mushrooms ; imaginable. Each decomposer produces its own unique set of en- \ zymes which can only partially break down a wood-based substrate. | Once the life cycle of one mushroom has been completed the life j cycle of another species can begin on the same substrate utilizing its 1 own unique set of enzymes, taking advantage of the remaining undecomposed wood fiber and the dead mycelium of the predecessor mushroom. After this second decomposer exploits the remaining iignin-cellulose to its fullest ability, a third spec ies can be introduced.

And so on_____I have been able to grow four species in sequence with this method. After several generations of mushroom species, the mass of final substrate is a mere faction of the original formula. The end material is reduced to a soft loam and is best used for compost or soil enhancement.

After running several species through the same substrate, Chang & Miles (1989, p.332) found that the net available nitrogen in the waste substrate actually increased, proportionately. Using cotton waste, the total nitrogen of the fresh compost waste was 0.63%. After the Paddy Straw mushroom produced on it, the residual nitrogen become 1.54%. After taking this same waste substrate and inoculating it with Oyster mycelium {P. ostreatus var florida), the nitrogen increased to 1.99%. (The effect that spawn had on the substrate was not described. A 10% spawning rate with rye could substantially affect these figures. If "substrate spawn" was used, the net effect would be much less.) The end result of species sequencing is the production of a rich humus, ideal for gardening. This concept is further incorporated into the permaculture model described in Chapter 5.

The sequence of species introduction, however, is most important. The Shiitake model is the easiest to understand. After Shiitake mushrooms stop producing on supplemented sawdust/chips, the now-blackened blocks are broken apart until they resemble sawdust in texture. Calcium sulfate and/or carbonate enhance particle separation, drainage, and adjusts the pH to the 6.5 -7.5 range. (Try 1 cup of gypsum/chalk for every twenty blocks and adjust accordingly.) The type of wood initially used becomes the overriding factor affecting proper formulation. Water is slowly added until good moisture is achieved. I prefer a moisture content of 60-65%, less than the ideal 75%. Higher moisture contents often result in a higher percentage of bags spoiling due to fermentation

The now-moistened sawdust mixture is filled into polypropylene bags or other suitable containers, and sterilized. If water collects at the bottoms of the bags, then the substrate is too moist.

After sterilizing, the bags are inoculated according to the procedures in this book. I have found that Oyster mushrooms grow profusely on the waste Shiitake substrate with no need for amendment. King Oyster and Maitake also fruit, although 10% supplementation with rice bran or corn substantially improves yields. After the second species in sequence has run its course, the waste substrate is collected, re-mixed, sterilized and finally inoculated with King Stropharia (Stropharia rugoso-annulata) or Shaggy Mane (Coprinus comatus). However, if the spent substrate is under-sterilized and/or too much water is added at make-up, contamination during incubation is likely. Keep in mind that waste substrates host far more microorganisms than fresh sawdust. Hence, sterilization may have to be prolonged to insure killing all the resident contaminants.

Each hme one of the above species (except Stropharia rugoso-annulata) is grown through the sterilized, sawdust-based substrate approximately 10% of the dry mass (=25% wet weight) yields fresh mushrooms. Depending upon the species and many other variables, between 20-40% of the dry mass evolves into gases, mostly carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and ethylene. The first species, in this case Shiitake, easily produces 1.5 lbs. of mushrooms from the original 6 lb. substrate (75% moisture). At least 1.5 lbs. is lost through carbon dioxide evolution and evaporation. At the end of the Shiitake fruiting cycles, a 3 lb. waste substrate remains with a moisture content approaching 50%. After Oyster mushroom mycelium has taken its turn, the substrate un dergoes another 50% reduction in mass. Now, our sample has now been reduced from an original 6 lbs. to 1.5 lbs. At this stage, the remaining material, without supplementation, supports vigorous growth of the King Stropharia (Stropharia rugoso-annulata) or the Shaggy Mane (Coprinus comatus). Once colonized, the mycelium of these species are best used as spawn to inoculate outdoor substrates. At this final stage, the nutritional base of the substrate is largely expired, and subsequent fruitings are anemic.

In all, more than 20% of the substrate (dry weight to dry weight) is converted into edible mushrooms. At least that amount is liberated as gases. The remaining material can be added to garden composts as a supplement. The process of reduction/conversion is substantially prolonged if the cultivator utilizes large-particle wood chips in the original substrate formulas. If the waste wood substrate is further supplemented, the cycle can be extended.

This is but one path of species sequencing. Many others naturally come to mind. For instance, when production blocks of recycled Oyster, Maitake, Reishi (or others) have stopped producing indoors, they can be implanted outdoors into beds of sawdust. (Figure 339.) Additional fruitings arise from the buried blocks in 3-6 months, depending, of course upon the weather. I am always fascinated by the fact that these outdoor fruitings are often better than those indoors. Mushrooms seem to always benefit when nature is used as an ally. The implanted blocks of mycelium have the ability to draw additional nutrients from the surrounding habitat. By launching the expired blocks from the growing rooms into supportive outdoor habitats, the cultivator maximizes the potential of the mycelial mass. One of my Natural Culture beds has supported a succession of three species—first Morels in the spring, then King Stropharia in the summer, and an assortment of Hypholoma and allied species in the fall. This approach could be called the Zen of mushroom growing.

Whatever path is chosen, the implications are profound. These courses of decompos'tion are occurring daily in our forests' ecosystems. Ecologists should also find this model especially fascinating in understanding the concurrence of many species living in the same habitat. This model may also be useful for those living in desert, island, or other environments where substrate materials for wood decomposers are costly and hard to acquire. I encourage all readers of this book to push these concepts forward with new innovations and applications, incorporating more sets of organisms. By understanding the nuances within the mycosphere, I envision the creation of complex biospheres wherein fungi play determinant roles in supporting other ife cycles... I am not alone in believing that mushrooms could be instrumental in generating food for humans in the exploration of space.

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CHAPTER 23

ushrooms can be compared to fish in their perishability. Once harvested, they are quick to spoil unless properly cared for. One advantage of growing gourmet and medicinal mushrooms is that, historically, they have been used ;n dried form for centuries. In Asia, more Biitake\i§ Isold dried than fresh. Asians have found that the flavor of Stjrt^ is actually enhanced by drying. Further, having a readily available suppiy of dried mushrooms which can be stored for months at room temperature in airtight containers with no special care is very convenient for consumers. Compounded by the lack of refrigeration in many developing countries, dried mushrooms make good sense for both producers and consumers. In the United States, Canada, and Europe, more mushrooms are sold fresh than dried. In these markets, cultivators first supply the needs of the fresh market and then dry the surplus. Dried mushrooms can be sold as is or powdered for soup mixes, spices or teas.

Figure 377. Harvesting Paddy Strav.' mushrooms in Thailand.

Figure 376. Harvesting clusters of a coid -veatlicr, di k Oyster strain. This strain is popular China and Japan.

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