As a Dirtmaker see's it...
The idea to use a blue drum, any drum or container I suspect, as a means for providing a semi controlled environment is certainly not unique. It's a round mono-tub for the mycophile in my own experiences and I claim nothing other than success in fruiting various species of fungi by doing this. I don't think we actually invent anything anyway but just in case.
IF someone else has already done this then I thank you for planting the idea into my head, I've unabashedly copied you, else I'm just going to give credit to the first seven Maitake blocks I made. They are the organisms that motivated me into thinking about it and then doing it, my belly too....I know this, it works like a freaking charm for fruiting maitake blocks as follows...
So the idea was/is, a jar works, a bag works, a tray works, a tub works, and a bed works.....I bet a barrel works. Scored on some drums for nothing and proceeded from there. You probably should make sure you know what the drum was used for before choosing one for culturing anything. Food grade is what I get. Garbage cans, other containers I'm sure, should/do also work the same way. Wash them out no matter what. IF you're using power tools wear safety gear/PPE...
I figure I'm setting up a membrane outdoors which I control the permeability of via holes, filters, substrates, and covers. Certainly this is for the purpose of using nature and it's magical way of growing things to set the stage for fungi propagation. At least that is my thinking. I was fortunate enough to get food grade drums with ringed sealing lids so they're perfect for this kind of experimental growing. Not to mention I really wanted to get Maitake to fruit and after watching video's of the Asian growers burying blocks in trenches and then fruiting them in hoop houses...I decided what the "base unit" of that was and that it fit right into my barrels. Which turned out to be correct.
Drainage holes are drilled in the bottom of the drum (to allow for good drainage while keeping in mind insects and other invaders)
FAE can be provided by drilling holes in the sides of the drum and if you don't have access through the barrel top by cutting it out with a jig saw. The top has to be removed from one piece drums. You'll need to have that done regardless. BE careful or get someone that knows their power tools to do it for you. Filters can be epoxy glued over the holes and screens/lids fashioned for the now opened top. Aluminum (something recycled is icing on the cake) which is what I used, works well but be creative. We're controlling the humidity and FAE while keeping the BUGS OUT....
Screen and or landscape cloth can be used to restrict access into the membrane (drum) at the bottom, side holes, and top. (Large rubber bands work quite well for holding large screening or cloth when your drum has a rim around it) I got super lucky and mine came with clamps for the lids. Things smaller than your chosen material and mesh can obviously get through. Since I like other people to try my mushrooms and insects in them tend to NOT promote return visits for dinner fine screen is my choice.
Washed river gravel covering the bottom even up to a couple of inches deep allows for really good drainage of the drum with little to no pooling of water for any significant length of time. Rainfall and irrigation can be adjusted to provide correct conditions for optimal growth this way.
Various substrates can be built directly on top of the gravel obviously depending on what species is being grown. The following photograph series shows what I did for fruiting Maitake blocks on an educated hunch and (hopefully for repeated fruiting for a couple of years LEFT TO BE SEEN) It definitely works for fruiting blocks grown in bags at least once.
All kinds of casing layers and coverings are possible and should/could be fiddled with. Fertilized potting soils, composts, mulches, chips, and dusts are just examples. Same as you do in bags, trays, tubs, etc. Fluffy and damp in some manner with ample breathing and no compacting. Grasses and other plants, moss, and etc. are also easily propagated as cover and micro-climate symbionts.
A. Recycled food grade drums with recycled screening
B. Drain holes are drilled in the bottom
C. Bottom screen layer attempt to restrict access into the barrel from below
D. A nice layer of washed river or pea gravel to keep substrates off the ground, well drained, and out of any water pooling for any length of time
E. For Maitake I chose to add a several inch thick layer of sun dried red oak sawdust on top of the pea gravel layer. My thinking is, what is in the ground around the base of an oak tree when these mushrooms love to grow? Oak dusts, probably rotting roots, rocks, and soil was the answer I came up with, copy mom.
F. Maitake oak blocks grown for six months in sterilized filter patch bags and some bags of commercial top soil to bury them in
G. Big old Maitake block, weighs like almost ten pounds if I remember correctly
H. Placed right onto the center of a dry oak sawdust layer, you know what's next
I. Bury it right to the top edge of the block in top soil of course
J. Cased with about an inch or so of fertilized potting soil. These blocks were actually made in January and these pictures are the first day of August so seven months in the bags.
K. As built above and sitting with a screen over top, by the middle of September low and behold
L. Five of the seven initial barrels eventually fruited first fall. The cultures shown here are all first year and hopefully repeat performers. These are oak blocks 8 X 8 X 14 inches roughly.
M. This fruit is growing on a sawdust block
N. These Golden Hens are also fruiting from sawdust blocks but in July and they have an oak block to hopefully feed on
Just the way one Dirtmaker has found to make more dirt, grow yummy food, and spread knowledge. I'm sure this works for multiple species, oysters have already fruited from a very similar set-up and I'm sure many more will follow. Generally speaking the species that normally grow up from the ground are well suited to this. Lions Mane I think I'll just leave in blocks, bags, and logs above the ground since I don't think they'll fruit right...but I bet I can hang the bags off the sides of the drums over top of the hens....
Surely this is a versatile technique for outdoor fruiting but does require materials and the space to do it. Irrigation, misting, burlap sacks, spray bottles, grasses and plants, moss, the possibilities and variances that can be applied and used are vast. In the shade with irrigation and TLC we can to some extent build and control micro climates suitable for fungi growth and fruiting. Give it a shot if you can and remember there's no particular right or wrong way to do these things beyond did it work or no?
These worked well....I think I'll keep experimenting along these lines...
Try it if you think about it and can do it...
Edited by Arathu, 30 July 2022 - 11:45 AM.