Tag Archives: Bioneers

Fresh Mushrooms

My outdoor Oyster mushroom is starting to flush after a long winter of waiting. I  now can call myself a mushroom cultivator! I knew the bed would be successful, but just like planting any perennial in the fall, you wait impatiently to watch it come to life in the spring. This bed was a combination of tree branches, fallen apples and garden waste. I inoculated it with spawn from Garden City Fungi (see link on homepage) as part of a Bioneers workshop Glenn Babcock, from Garden City Fungi, gave in October. (see other posts on workshops and cultivation) The bed did not need much care and there isn’t much money involved. The pictures tell the story.

Oyster Mushroom BedOyster Mushroom BedOyster Mushroom BedOyster Mushroom Bed

Oyster Mushroom Bed

I now will attempt to grow some other types of  mushrooms through the summer and follow their progress on this site. Thanks again to the folks at Garden City Fungi and The Bioneers for teaching me ways to grow Mushrooms!

Under Water Mushroom Discovered

The first I heard of this was from Paul Stamets at Bioneers. Then I found this interesting article at MailTribune.com
What lies beneath: a new mushroom
Hydrologist happens onto a novel gilled species that seems to thrive underwater in the upper Rogue River

A new species of mushroom, dubbed Psathyrella aquatic, has been discovered in the upper Rogue River. Biologists believe this is the first gilled mushroom to be found living underwater in the world. The bubbles on the top of the mushroom are caused by an unknown gas.Photo courtesy of Robert Coffan

Paul Fattig

SHADY COVE — Hydrologist Robert Coffan knew he was looking at something very unusual in the knee-deep summer waters of the upper Rogue River.

Here were gilled mushrooms, swaying in the main current of the clear, cold river in early July through late September.

“But since gilled mushrooms DO NOT live and grow underwater, I was real nervous” about approaching a mycological expert, admitted the adjunct professor at Southern Oregon University.

Indeed, Darlene Southworth, a retired SOU biology professor, was plenty skeptical when he broached the subject. Although she was impressed by underwater photographs taken by Coffan, she wanted to see the evidence firsthand.

Not only did she witness the mushrooms found by Coffan, but she discovered others during an August visit to a stretch of the north fork of the river within a few miles of Woodruff Bridge in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.

“There are no known gilled mushrooms living underwater,” Southworth explained. “And this is not a slime mold or anything like that. These are regular gilled mushrooms.

“We believe this is a new species,” she concluded of the mushrooms that are typically about 10 centimeters tall with caps that are about 2 centimeters wide.

The find was unveiled Monday night at the November meeting of the Upper Rogue Watershed Association, for whom Coffan had prepared a water assessment last year.

Dubbed Psathyrella aquatic, the mushroom is being introduced to the broader scientific community in a 14-page paper submitted Nov. 9 to the science journal Mycologia. The paper was written by Coffan in collaboration with Southworth and Jonathan Frank, a laboratory technician at SOU.

Coffan credits Southworth, who now conducts research under a National Science Foundation grant at the university, for focusing on mycorrhizal fungi, and Frank for the paper and much of the research in determining the mushroom’s uniqueness.

Up at Oregon State University, Matt Trappe, a doctoral candidate in forest mycology, says Coffan has found a unique mushroom. He and his father, Jim Trappe, a retired U.S. Forest Service mycologist who now teaches in OSU’s botany and plant pathology department, were consulted on the find.

“As far as we’ve determined, this is a first in Oregon as well as a first in the world,” Matt Trappe said of gilled mushrooms living in water. “We’re not aware of anything at all like this in mycology where the reproductive mushroom structure appears to be perennially underwater.

“If this evolved in Oregon, what are the odds it can be found in streams and rivers around the world?” he asked. “This raises all kinds of questions about spore disbursement and evolution.”

There are more questions than answers at this point, acknowledged Coffan, who originally discovered the water-dwelling gilled mushrooms in summer 2005. None of the mushrooms were found in slack water, he noted.

A DNA analysis at SOU’s Bio Tech Center and a cross-check of references and experts, including mycologists at the University of Minnesota, determined the mushrooms belonged to the genus Psathyrella, Southworth said. Samples were sent to OSU and to San Francisco State University.

There are about 600 known species of Psathyrella, all terrestrial, she said.

“How do we identify them? We look at the morphology — the form, the shape and the DNA,” she said.

It has a small bell-shaped cap, a thin stipe (stem) and gills underneath, she said. They examined the cells in the cap and made a spore print.

Researchers have ruled out the possibility the mushrooms were growing along the banks and were merely submerged by rising waters brought on by snowmelt.

The mushrooms were found in the spring-fed “base” flow of the river, Coffan said, noting that flow is consistent and keeps the mushrooms submerged.

The mushrooms tend to grow on submerged wood but can also be found growing in the gravel, Southworth said.

“These are growing in the same place for three months, ” she said, adding they have been found as late as Sept. 21.

Although there are some known freshwater aquatic fungi, this is the only known gilled mushroom that grows underwater, she reiterated.

“We noticed there is a gas bubble underwater,” she said. “When we pulled the mushroom out, we could hold it up for some seconds before the spore burst. But they would not be uniformly distributed. They would stick to the cap, to the stipe, to Jonathan’s fingers.”

They don’t know what the gas is, she noted.

They are also intrigued by its three-month fruiting season.

“That’s way long for mushrooms,” she observed.

As for their edibility, Southworth figures the waterborne mushrooms are too small to warrant collecting for food.

However, several of the terrestrial Psathyrella are edible, although most have never been tested as a food source, according to her research.

“There is no reason it would go toxic,” she observed of a member of the genus growing in water.

Meanwhile, Coffan, Southworth and Frank plan to return to the area to conduct further research to try to determine the extent of the mushroom’s habitat. They also want to check out other streams in the region for evidence of the mushrooms.

“But it will be next summer before that is feasible,” she said. “Right now we can describe this one river: It’s aerated, cold, clear, steady flow. But we want to find out how the spores are dispersed.”

“And we want to find out how unique the habitat is,” Coffan said. “We have a whole new area to look for mushrooms now. It’s mind-boggling.”

Reach reporter Paul Fattig at 776-4496 or e-mail him at pfattig@mailtribune.com.

Mushroom Cultivation Workshops

Mushroom Cultivation workshops are a great way to learn mushroom growing and meet other mycophiles.

The second mushroom growing workshop I attended was this last October at the Bioneers conference. This was given by Glenn Babcock of Garden City Fungi in Missoula, MT, gardencityfungi.com. The idea with this workshop was to use a Master spawn to inoculate spawn bags for the participates to take home and establish an outdoor mushroom bed.

The workshop started with an interesting history on Shiitake mushroom cultivation. Then there was a presentation on general mushroom cultivation and life cycle. There was a question and answer session and then we got into the spawn creation.

The master spawn was from Garden City Fungi’s production Oyster spawn. It was in a space bag with a filter to allow gas out and to keep contaminates from getting in. The space bag is essentially a plastic bag with a filter and it is partially filled with sawdust fortified with oats. The bag is then sealed and sterilized. After cooling, the bag is then cut open and inoculated with Oyster spawn by pouring some spawn from the master bag into the space bag and the bag is then resealed. These master spawn bags can be expanded from 1 to 10.

The bags were then taken home by participates to start an outside mushroom bed. The bag was allowed to rest until the mycelium spawn consumed the substrate turning the mixture from brown to white. We were then instructed to remove vegetation from a small area and fill the space with hardwood chips. The space bag was cut open and spread on the wood chips and covered with leaves. The bed is to rest through the winter and flush next spring or fall.

I received a partial bag of master spawn left over from the workshop. I was cleaning up our garden at the time so decided to try and get the spawn to grow on corn stalks. The corn stalks were harvested and thrown in a plastic tub. The stalks were showing signs of mold so I was not sure it would work. The stalks were broken up just enough to fit in the tub and the tub was filled with water. After soaking over night the tub was drained and the spawn was mixed into the wet cornstalks. The tub was covered loosely and left outside since the temperatures at that time, November 1, were between 40 and 60. Acceptable spawning weather for oyster mycelium, but not warm enough for mold. The tub was left outside until the temperature started dropping to freezing at night. I am happy to report at that time the spawn had spread very well for coarse material and the project was brought into my garage. When the weather gets warmer this spring the tub will be put outside and with some luck mushrooms should flush. Checking on it this week the mycelium has spread throughout the substrate and is busy consuming the stalks.

I will report on the status of both the outdoor bed and tub experiments as they progress on this site. With a little luck and planning I should have lots of oyster mushrooms to eat this spring and fall!

Mushroom Cultivation Workshops

Mushroom Cultivation Workshops are a great way to learn how to grow mushrooms and meet mycophiles. I have been to 2 different workshops through the Bioneers Conference.

The first one was with the Missoula Guru Larry Evans with the WMMA and the Fungal Jungal. The idea with this one was to pasteurize straw, and then inoculate the pasteurized straw with Oyster mushroom spawn. Everyone got to participate and take a bag of inoculated straw home ready to produce mushrooms.

The process was simple and straight forward. We broke a bale of straw up, and then ran over it with a lawn mower until it was chewed up to smaller pieces. A steel barrel of water was heated with a propane burner until boiling. Larry had fashioned a basket out of hardware cloth with a handle of wire. we stuffed the basket loosely with straw and plunged it into the boiling water. It stayed about 20 minutes with a brick on top to keep it down. The basket was raised, drained some, and then dumped on a clean tarp. It took about 3 batches to complete. The straw was spread out and allowed to cool to a tepid temperature.

The bags of spawn were then spread out over all of the straw and was mixed by hand being careful not to step on the tarp. The inoculated straw was then bagged up in small plastic bags, and nails were used to poke holes throughout the bag. The bags of inoculated straw were then taken home by participants to grow fresh mushrooms. The mycelium quickly consumed the straw in the bag and in about 2 weeks I had fresh oyster mushrooms to eat.

Me and about 30 other people were turned on to the simplicity and complexity of growing mushrooms. You could see it in their eyes, they were hooked for life. I have been playing around with oyster mushrooms since, and am constantly amazed at the aggressiveness of this mushroom.

If you get a chance to attend a mushroom cultivation workshop, I would highly recommend it.