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Big Fuzzy Balls: A Novel Concept for the Mass Spreading and Naturalizing of Mycelium


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#1 Bobcat

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Posted 12 December 2006 - 01:56 PM

So I was driving about the other day and noticed this big gushing waterway. The area was flooded and generally explosive with current. I also noticed that along the river banks were large pieces of driftwood along with masses of other types of organic debris (leaves, twigs, chips, chunks, straw and corn leftovers from the fields, grass clumps, etc.) It occured to me that this debris is always around waterways- whether it be flood plains, rivers, lakes, ditches or streams.

Why couldn't someone use the power of the current to disperse mycelium to all of this substrate? If enough spawn was used, couldn't one conceivably inoculate and naturalize great distances of land?

I thought about making woodchip/dirt/sawdust blocks and flaking them into the water- then letting nature spawn it to the banks down stream, but so much of the spawn would just get drowned. Or the relatively small amount of food a single piece of sawdust would offer may not be enough (for sparce dustings of spawn.).

Then I thought about those wooden balls they sell for various hobbies and woodworking projects. They float. And you can get them in any size. Imagine dumping 500 fuzzy balls (inoculated with your choice of woodloving fungus) into a flooded rushing stream in the spring or fall! Wouldn't these naturally drift to the sides as they went? Wouldn't these fuzzy balls be enough food to feed the mycelium until it became naturalized? Thereby creating a large network of mycelium along the water way? Wouldn't this be an ideal location as future floods would lift and carry mycelium for even further natural expansion?

You can get 1" wooden balls for a few cents a piece. One place I found said 500 for twenty. On one hand that is inexpensive, but that would add up quickly. Still, this is a project I will be working on and implementing this spring. I don't know what fungus I will use but it will be one rare around my area and easily recognizable. I will choose an area high in debris with a small waterway so progress could be easily tracked.

Even if this doesn't work out so well, I am sure the wooden balls are still a good idea. They could be strewn about a wooded area, for example. If you throw a hundred fuzzy balls and only 5% survive and grow into a natural patch... Thats still 5 natural patches for very little work!

So, what do you all think? Good, bad or dumb idea? Old idea? Improvements?

#2 reefer

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Posted 12 December 2006 - 02:16 PM

Sounds really cool bobcat. I hope it works out. Using the stream as a carrier sounds like it would work.

Imagine how much wooded area you could innoculate with a catapult and a few thousand colonized wooden balls. :rasta:

#3 Bobcat

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Posted 12 December 2006 - 02:39 PM

Lol, yeah, there are possibilities.

I also found:

SPIRAL GROOVED DOWEL PINS 3/8 X 1 BIRCH (B&P SGDP 3/8X1 BR)

SPIRAL GROOVED DOWEL PINS AND TABLE PINS 3/8" X 1" BIRCH

Our Price: $0.01


I was thinking the round shape would work really well with water as they could get lodged, grow out and get dislodged easily. In other words, drop some mycelium for a while and then continue their journey with the rise and fall of the waters. Or just stay put, whatever.

But walking around a wooded area like a park or whatever, these dowels would work just as well and are more cost efficient. A small pile here and there, or casually throw them about....... You could cover very large areas in a single afternoon.

So for 10 bucks you could inoc 1000 dowels, and if only 5% of those survive to create a patch, thats.... 50 patches!

#4 boomer1400

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Posted 12 December 2006 - 02:53 PM

Sounds like an experiment worth trying. Just make sure you get it out in the correct season, with plenty time for natural fruiting, and spore production to continue the species.

#5 Odin 13

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Posted 13 December 2006 - 02:26 AM

So you wanna be Johnny Mycoseed eh? Just remember that for every successful mushroom grow that you find in Mother Nature, it represents roughly a million growths of mycelium that did not end up with the proper conditions for either growing or fruiting. ( A factoid I once heard in a mushrooms class.)

#6 Bobcat

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Posted 13 December 2006 - 05:43 AM

Just wanted to note that I am not trying to take credit for using dowels as spawn. That idea has been around for ages and has been discussed at length in Stamets' books. Nor am I saying that anything here is particularly original- but I haven't heard things expressed this way before.

#7 Mindzpore

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Posted 13 December 2006 - 08:44 AM

I think its a great idea. When I used to live in an area close to the woods I would always bring my spent casings and cakes into the woods and deposit them in suitable places.

Grainspawn or other "edible" compounds tends to get eaten though.

Woodplugs or dowels would be a great idea I think. Easy to colonize, Buoyant, not messy, easy to spread (you could even carry a small drill and plug them into suitable fallen logs and dead trees). And like the japanese say: "automatically becomes portable when carried".

#8 Hippie3

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Posted 13 December 2006 - 09:01 AM

good luck!

#9 Noah

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Posted 13 December 2006 - 12:45 PM

I would suggest you reference, if not read, Paul Stamets' Mycelium Running.

#10 TVCasualty

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Posted 13 December 2006 - 02:46 PM

I want to try using the little wood balls in quart jars instead of grain for P. cyanescens (or any suitable woodlover) spawn and/or fruiting in trays. Sort of like grain made of wood. Cool... nice idea...

#11 Invitro

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Posted 13 December 2006 - 06:00 PM

I have had a similar idea, but I plan on using
quarts of Bluefoot LC's. During the spring
rains I'm going to dumps quarts of LC's into
local streams , ditches and rivers when ever
there is high water. Bluefoot's have been
found within 50 miles of my location so I'm
going spread the Bluefoot everywhere I can.

Invitro

#12 BuckarooBanzai

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Posted 13 December 2006 - 07:02 PM

Bluefoot was my first thought as well.

The flood plain environment seems as though it would be perfect.

#13 Mindzpore

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Posted 14 December 2006 - 04:31 AM

The more I think about releasing it into the streams, the better it sounds.

But wooden dowels is prolly the way to go. I believe it provides the best media for this type of action. I have previously used dowels for shiitake. Easy to sterilize and colonize. Durable as it both protects the myc and it can live a long time of the nutrients in one dowel, and wont be eaten by animals.

And their shape give them a better surface area than straight balls. Finally they are very cheap. a bag with 200 pcs is <3 euro.

The way I did them, was to first soak them in plain water (or sometimes coffewater) for ~6-8 hours. Then sterilize. And inoculate with LC (just like making spawn).

Now going to the woods is a hassle for me (takes at least 2 hours), but even I think I could do something like 2000 dowels and spread it in one afternoon.

Now should we use multispore or monoculture? I think multispore would have a greater chanse of survival (the variation should provide a greater spectrum of possible adaption).

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#14 Hippie3

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Posted 14 December 2006 - 08:50 AM

fish food

#15 Mindzpore

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Posted 14 December 2006 - 09:53 AM

Fishes dont eat wood (At least I'm pretty sure they dont. But, as always, I'm willing to change my mind.... if you can reference that).

#16 Bobcat

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Posted 14 December 2006 - 10:59 AM

Thanks for the great feedback and well wishes, everyone!

Actually, I don't disagree with Hip on the fish food idea. And i think it might even be positive. Stamets seems to think there is a future for mushroom use in the fish industry. Mindzpore is right, imo, about the fish not actually eating the wood, though. But they would certainly nibble at them if they were around, bounce them around, maybe even dislodge them. At any rate it would get some hyphae out there.

Odin, I don't disagree with your factoid, but I bet it includes all germination. In this case monokaryon strains (which would arguably account for most of the spore produced mycelium each year) would be naturally minimized by the heavy growth of dikaryon strains in culture. Also, they would already be embedded in wood, so they would have a fully colonized food source. That ups the ante in favor of the mycelium considerably. So as long as the area itself would generally support growth (for the stream idea, lots of debris, and for the woods idea, lots of twigs/leaves/chips/bark in the soil) I think the 5% success rate is actually a very conservative estimate. Particularly if a culture was used that exhibited strong rhizo growth in response to natural biological soil populations.

Boomer, I think the season to put it out is quite variable. For the stream idea you would just need high water, not even necessarily fast moving. In fact, a small flooded babbling brook would probably be best. I'm thinking I will work with cinnamon caps (although you guy's idea of blue foots would seem ideal) for my initial run at this and I have a near perfect area picked out. Temperate woodlovers like cool temps for best growth. So in my area Spring, Early Summer, Late Summer and the Fall seasons would all support good growth. Woodlovers DONT need a full year to fruit. Just enough time to create a mycelial matrix. Even if they didn't fruit this year, they would probably survive just fine over winter for next year. A healthy matrix (particularly one created by the joining of several smaller matrixes, over large areas) could be self sustaining for several years without the need for new spores/genetics, imo.

Noah, I actually have all of Stamets' texts and have read them, particularly Mycelium Running, several times. In fact, I look stuff up in that book prolly on a weekly basis. :bow:, :eusa_clap, & :heart: to Stamets on that one. I sure hope to meet him some day so he can sign my dog-eared copy! (btw, thats Stephen King's criteria for how much one loves a book. It's 'dog-eared'ness. I have a few dog-eared copies of his books I'd liked signed too!)

Thanks for the input Mindzpore! I'm glad your into this and hope you can experiment with me! I'm thinking that initially MS would offer the best chances of success. As with other mushie 'forced evolution' however, I think that we could build on that success by cloning strains that survived the process.

#17 Hippie3

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Posted 14 December 2006 - 11:01 AM

Fishes dont eat wood (At least I'm pretty sure they dont. But, as always, I'm willing to change my mind.... if you can reference that).



lol
who said anything about wood ?
think nice sweet juicy mycellia..
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#18 Hippie3

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Posted 14 December 2006 - 11:06 AM

if i were to try this
i think one might get better mileage by using spores
spores are much tougher and are meant to survive that kind of 'adventure'
whereas mycellia is quite fragile with rather restrictive requirements ...

#19 Bobcat

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Posted 14 December 2006 - 11:28 AM

A few quotes from one of Waylit's stellar threads are below. They can be found in this thread about Psilocybe cyanescens in grass. A must read. The point I'm making here is that there doesn't necessarily need to be a big mass of wood chips to create a mycelial network. Just soil rich lignitious debris.

Hippie3:

i'd bet there's a bed of wood mulch under there somewhere...
lots of soil mixes these days incorporate "forest byproducts"


Golly:

In those Sod farms they usually till in a layer of compost b4 seeding ..
The compost is often made with cheap wood waste products among other things..This could be the food source for psilly Cyans...
I wish i had a lawn like that...Nice..


Llamabox:

Stamets gave a lecture in 99 in Amsterdam where he discribes this.


In the PNW because of logging in the past there are massive mount of woodchips under the top foot of topsoil in areas that were forests and are now housing sub-divisions.


Bucky:

i'd be willing to bet there was alot of choped up root material and woody debrie (sp ) in the dirt they used to fill in those neighbor hoods.. i know in my area atleast when they have mounds of dirt that you can pick up for free, or buy (lol) there are always a bunch of roots and sticks mixed up in them.. then add ontop of that new well irrgated lawns and it sounds like cyan heaven.
lost


So I don't think its a ridiculous idea to think that just throwing dowels about a wooded lot would create at least a 5% success rate- without the need for create specific beds. Or just by letting them float downstream. But I will see, I guess.

#20 TVCasualty

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Posted 14 December 2006 - 11:31 AM

I agree with hip- spores seem better suited to the shotgun approach, whereas a cultured strain would be better for a specific installation of a patch.

In the Stamets book metioned, there was a photo of spores in a jar (Mycelium Running, pg. 129). They were collected out of the inflatable ducting in his grow rooms. There was about 2 pounds collected in that jar, containing an estimated 1 trillion spores (a few months' worth). If a way was engineered to make and collect spores intentionally (instead of incidentally) it's conceivable to create tonnage of spore mass. That is enough to release into the air (from a hot air balloon?) upwind of suitable habitat and likely get colonies. (maybe use spores to seed clouds? you get the rain and the strain, helpful for maximizing probability of success...)

Another theoretical strategy that combines a good established strain with the advantages of spreading huge numbers of spores might be to ring a target habitat with inoculated stumps or patches (depending on species). The mushrooms that fruit would be scattering spores into the habitat (a ring around it assures that spores will always be blowing into the area no matter the wind direction). I see this approach as using natural processes to leverage our efforts- nature works around the clock and at a scale beyond what humans can industrialize, so it makes sense to work with nature rather than trying to impose on it.




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