April 25, 2010 – Help Plant a Mushroom Garden
As part of the upcoming Earth Day celebrations, the Sunshine Coast Society for Hunting, Recognition and Observation of Mushrooms (SHROOM) is inviting members of the public to help establish a mushroom demonstration garden at the Iris Griffith centre at 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 25.
Join Mark Wilkes of Funguy Gardens, who will demonstrate his method of using mycelium-impregnated wood chips as mulch. Not only does the mulch produce an abundance of good-tasting mushrooms (known as Wine Caps, Garden Giant, or King Stropharia), over the period of less than a year the mycelium consumes the lignin in the wood and the chips are transformed into healthy, nutrient-rich garden soil.
For more information, contact Ann Harmer at 604 883 3678 or visit Mark Wilkes’ website http://funguygardens.blogspot.com.
SHROOM (a newly established sunshine coast mycological society) will also be accepting memberships at that time: annual dues is $20 per person, $25 for a family.
Website: Funguy Gardens Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Through the use of mushroom mycelium, Funguy Gardens offers Sunshine Coast residents fantastic nutrient- rich “living soil” solutions at great prices. We are dedicated to the environment and use techniques that mimic nature to create the healthiest of ecosystems in your own back yard. Sterile soil mixes lack the nutrients, minerals and life that your garden needs to be healthy and flourish. Mark Wilkes has taken his love for food and gardening and created an option that will save you time, money and water. Growing your garden with mushrooms will build plant health, raise yields and re-introduces the beneficial fungus back in your garden where it is belongs. Join the local eco movement for only $1.75/sq.foot.
Funguy Gardens also frequently sells mushroom mulch kits and various delicious homemade mushroom edibles at farmers markets on the Sunshine Coast and throughout the Lower Mainland.
“10 Questions With……” Mark Wilkes Owner and operator of Funguy Gardens October, 2010 Interview
How did you first become interested in the innovative concept of “growing your own soil” through the use of mushroom mycelium?
As a gardening enthusiast on the Coast, I found it very difficult to source healthy fertile soil that did not need to be amended for a minimum of 5 years. I discovered that one of the types of mushrooms I was growing was leaving me with beautiful black soil in place of the wood chips. Now I am a soil farmer who offers garden lovers a living soil option.
How does mushroom mycelium turn wood chips into rich fertile soil?
The mushroom roots (mycelium) wrap around the chips and digest the lignin-cellulose structure of the wood leaving you with fertile soil. They amend the carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and minerals back into the ecosystem in forms usable to the plants, insects, and other organisms.
What are the benefits to digesting wood rather than adding heat to compost it?
When we look at nature there are never naturally occurring large piles of wood generating heat. When we add heat (naturally or artificially) we trigger harmful bacteria to grow that are not beneficial for our plants to thrive in.
Glomalin, only recently discovered in 1996, is exclusively created in the wood chip digestion process by mycelium. It’s presence is now increasingly being included in soil quality analysis.
What makes glomalin such a valuable soil component for gardeners on the Sunshine Coast?
When we compost wood with heat there is no glomalin production. Glomalin is the matrix that holds soil together. When we over-till our soil the glomalin is broken up, leaving the wind and the rain to wash away important nutrients and minerals. Because we get a lot of rain on the Coast, our soils can become depleted without this very valuable substance.
Describe the on-site services that you provide for residents of the Sunshine Coast.
First, I personally consult with the customer to determine their specific needs. Then I choose the type of wood to be digested by the mycelium for each particular installation. This is determined by the digestive lifetime of the wood, the environmental conditions on the property, and the type of plants the customer wants to grow in and around the mulch. For example, if the customer wants flower beds dressed then I suggest a wood that lasts longer. If they want mulch for vegetable beds I choose a wood that digests quickly, giving results in less than a gardening season. Ornamental and vegetable plants can grow directly in the installation area where the mycelium is at work. I supply, deliver, and install all aspects of the procedure and this can be done any time of the year with the exception of January and February.
How long does a mushroom mulch installation last and how long does it take for the mycelium to fruit?
How long an installation lasts depends on the thickness of the mulch installed and how much fuel you supply the mycelium with. As with all organisms, as long as you feed them from year to year they keep growing and expanding, leaving you with more and more fertile soil. A large mulched area could produce wheelbarrow loads of delicious edible mushrooms 6-10 months after an installation, growing around your plants only and never harming them.
Funguy Gardens also retails mushroom mulch kits for people who wish to install the mycelium themselves. How do these work and where can you buy them?
The mushroom mulch kits are easy to install. First, you simply dig a large shallow hole in your garden the size of the kit. Next, empty the contents of the kit into the hole. Lastly, dust some soil over top and add water. To properly flush mushrooms, they need to be installed in an area with partial to full sun exposure. I regularly sell the kits at farmer markets on the Coast or you can contact me directly by phone or email for pickup in the off-season.
What are the various reasons why mushroom mulch is “The Sustainable Choice” for improving soil quality?
Using mushroom mulch to grow your soil is a form of biomimicry and thus has many environmental benefits. Mycelium installations create a natural food chain effect, drawing many valuable creatures to your garden like bugs, birds, and most of all lots of worms. The addition of glomalin in your soil through the digestion process has significant water retention benefits which helps to preserve a valuable resource here on the Coast. Glomalin also provides excellent erosion control for your soil and the digested wood chips feed nutrients to your plants directly for at least five years. No human-created energy is used to create or transport the soil, as it is grown naturally right in your own yard. In addition, mushroom mulch can provide natural weed suppression without the use of any chemicals.
Human-created energy is used to create or transport the soil, as it is grown naturally right in your own yard. In addition, mushroom mulch can provide natural weed suppression without the use of any chemicals.
Stropharia Rugoso-Annulata, Wine Caps, or Garden Giants are three names for the edible mushroom strain that you use for garden installations. What are the physical attributes of this mushroom and what does it taste like?
It resembles a large Portobello with a red wine colored cap. It has a deep, rich delicious flavour.
You are a highly trained chef and have been known to sell various edible mushroom food products at farmers markets on the Sunshine Coast. Could you describe your delicious smoked mushroom seasonings and mushroom burgers?
As a chef for over 15 years I love to incorporate my cooking skills with these delicious edibles. I smoke, dehydrate, grind and then spice my mushroom seasonings, which can be incorporated into many different foods. I make lots of healthy choice mushroom burgers made from loads of organic veggies, oats and quinoa (an ancient grain). My next line is Mushroom Pate Sausages that I know will create a buzz for meat eaters as well