A New England and Eastern Canada Edible and Medicinal Mushroom Resource
What do you do with the trimmings from your mushroom collecting?
I'm going to be a bit of a advocate. Do you throw your bottles away or do you recycle them? You would usually recycle them if you are being responsible. You should do the same with your mushrooms.
You brought your finds home and found a few wormy caps and caps with rot spots. There are remaining stem butts with bits of soil and mycelium attached. There are mushrooms you can't identify or are not edible because they are too old. Should you throw away the trim from your collecting? Throw it out where? In the trash basket and to the landfill? A better idea would be to take them outside and place them in similar habitats to where you found them. I bury my chanterelle stem butts and less than excellent caps under white pines and similar trees around my house. Wormy boletes go under hemlocks or whatever type of trees and similar habitat I may have found them in. I have done this with many species. Honey mushrooms, an aggressive parasite, are an exception since they can destroy living trees.
It's true that a mushroom is just a fruit and that the mycelium usually continues to live when you pick the fruit body. That said, the spores that the mushroom would spread have been taken out of circulation by your picking them. Redistributing your trimmings could help to put some of the spores and mycelium back in the environment and create new areas of growth. Since I own a woodlot I can do this easily and I would certainly like to have these mushrooms growing around my house and supporting the health of my trees (as mycorrhizal species do) through symbiosis.
Slurries are another good way to distribute spores and tissue. By placing mushrooms in a container of water you can create a solution that is loaded with millions of spores. Letting caps soak for 24-48 hours should be sufficient. A pinch of salt in the water should help inhibit bacterial growth. A small amount of molasses or sugar in the water after soaking can often activate the spores within about 24 hours. The slurry can then be strained and poured out in places where they can possibly propagate. I pour slurries on to stumps, wood chip beds, and natural areas. I don't have a front lawn with grass. Mine is all wood chips. I am hoping my front yard will eventually support a lot of different species. I also have snowmobile trails going by my house that have a six inch bed of woodchips on them. I have areas with tons of mixed wood and dirt biomass. Making slurries isn't hard and does not take a long time. It costs practically nothing. You can also try putting mushrooms in the blender with water chopping them up finely for pouring.
Making a spore print is often an essential part of identification. Spore prints are usually made on paper or glass. A white spore print on white paper is not useful. I like to make my spore prints on microscope slides. I then sandwich each slide with a clean one and tape them together with magic tape. Magic tape is easy to write notes on. Spore prints can be used to make slurries or cultures. Using local wild species is a better strategy for success in mushroom propagation than trying to use spores or culture from other parts of the country or world. Cultures can be made fairly easily at home with minimum equipment. Picking up a few petri dishes and some agar is one way to do it and is not that difficult if you take steps to be clean. I have purchased petri dishes and agar on eBay for a reasonable price.
I have purchased spore infused chainsaw oil from Fungi Perfecti for use as bar and chain oil. Spores are mixed into canola oil. I have used canola in my chainsaw for the past couple of years without any problems. It is much more environmentally friendly and you always broadcast spores. Millions of gallons of petroleum chainsaw oil pollute our environment each year. Petroleum based oils can create health problems including cancer, respiratory and skin problems. I have made oil for my own use with spores from local species. Fungi Perfecti only offers three of types. I make oil from a wider variety of species local to my town. The oysters around here are huge and left on a sheet of glass can produce a phenomenal number of spores. You can easily collect several grams which should be millions or billions of spores. In theory that should be all you would need for gallons of oil and hundreds of other applications.
Sometimes you can even use non-sterile materials and have success. I have taken oyster mushroom caps and placed them over a canning jar filled with water soaked wooden dowel plugs and gotten good growth from the spore fall. I have taken oyster stem butts and placed them in a jar of dowel plugs and gotten outstanding growth. I have gotten shiitake to grow on unsterilized hardwood sawdust i got from a local wood harvester who creates the sawdust in making firewood. There can be a fair number of failures but it can be done. There are simple techniques for non sterile propagation using peroxide.
Transplantation by digging up a mushroom with the soil and mycelium intact is another strategy. The soil is likely to have beneficial bacteria and other elements that may improve your success. You would need to have a garden trowel and small flower pot or bag available for retaining the moisture and preserving the integrity of the soil ball until you can transplant it to the desired place. You can also use a shovel to pick up a mycelial mass you may find in wood chips or compost or soft soil and transplant it to another suitable location.
I often collect old or wormy specimens that I would like to have growing on my property. I have thrown a lot of rowdy old puffballs and other mushrooms out toward my leech field and other areas. I have placed old oysters, chicken of the woods, and dryad's saddle on to fairly fresh cut stumps created when I had some selective cutting done on my wood lot. I had my woods to my specifications to improve the health of the woods and further my mycological adventures. Fortunately, the wood I wanted to remove for stump inoculation improved the over story allowing more light to reach the more valuable conifers, birches, oak, ash and other more unusual hardwood trees. The trees I wanted removed were also the ones that the wood cutters wanted most for firewood. The remaining trees were also evaluated with an eye toward mycological experimentation. In addition to the previously mentioned species I also kept most extra large trees and dead or dying "woodpecker trees".
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