2015 Mushrooms at the Gowanus Canal Conservancy

The good people at the Gowanus Canal Conservancy had approved the mushroom cultivation workshop I had proposed, and we had done a dry run at our own garden a few weeks earlier. As with our dry run at our home garden, sourcing the correct species of logs for the project turned out to be the main bottleneck. The logs have to be of compatible species with the mushroom species that inoculate them, and they also need to be a certain diameter and length. (Here is one mushroom/tree compatibility chart example.)

We talked to several different local arborists and city departments. Basically the larger arborists offered us plenty of prime oak, but the smallest limb they had was as big as I am… anything better suited to our needs they said was like a twig to them—they would chip it on the spot and not save it. City departments also said that they chip all the tree limbs they cut on the spot. The logs also have to be more or less freshly cut—partially rotting logs will be too infected with competing fungi to allow for the new mycelium to have a chance. Eventually we collected enough oak, birch, and linden to be useful raw material for a workshop of up to 30 people.

As with the garden dry run, we used the same suppliers—Fungi Perfecti, who kindly donated plug spawn (thanks PF!) and Mushroompeople for a few other supplies. I had a few notes I had taken from Paul Stamets’ recent lecture in NYC, during which he touched on a wide range of topics. He was wearing this same hat at the lecture– made out of mushroom, of course. I’d highly recommend checking out the lecture, the video of which has been kindly posted by the New School for Social Research where the talk was held on June 17, 2015:

Mycologist Paul Stamets

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2015 Mushrooms in the Garden

I was interested in starting a mushroom growing spot in our garden, and I had proposed a separate mushroom growing workshop to the Gowanus Canal Conservancy, our neighboring environmental stewards. I was also a longtime follower of Paul Stamets, a renowned mycologist (specialist in fungi) who coincidentally gave a talk I attended in Manhattan recently. I thought I would use the garden as a test run of the workshop as I had never done log inoculation before, though it looked super simple. In fact, it is super simple.

I ordered some ‘plug spawn’ which are pre-inoculated wood dowels commonly used in mushroom cultivation, from Fungi Perfecti, one of the larger suppliers. Plug spawn of Shiitake, Lion’s Mane and Phoenix Oyster arrived a few days later, along with a couple of other basic supplies, some of which came from another supplier, Mushroompeople. Here we are going through the steps of the log inoculation. The hardest part was finding the proper log species to match the mushrooms… that would be much easier out in the countryside. Logs in the city are harder to source. Eventually I spotted some freshly cut ones in the neighborhood. We think they are either Ailanthus or Little Leaf Linden, both common hardwoods around here. Hard to tell the species without their leaves.

Inoculating hardwood logs with mushroom plug spawn

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