Hey everyone - just got out of my probationary period so i wanted to ask everyone a few questions i have to get started growing mushrooms and therby hopefully reduce a couple years if trial and error )) Really look forward to hearing some answers and thoughts! Im new to all of this
1. Has anyone ever tried growing mushrooms on Ailanthus? (Tree of Heaven) ...It grows everywhere here in Virginia and would be an infinite supply of substrate... I just plugged some logs with oyster, lions mane, and shitake so ill see...but id like to hear other's experience.
It ought to work for any wood-decomposing fungi. And since it's an invasive weed (pretty much) it's an ideal candidate for use as substrate.
However, it's also rather potently "medicinal." Besides the allelopathic chemical it produces to kill/inhibit competitor tree species, it also contains quassin and saponin, both of which are bitter (quassin extremely so; it's among the most bitter substances found in nature) and saponins are thought to be used by plants and trees to inhibit fungi and other microbial pathogens.
So IMO experiments are in order. Stamets has recommended not using freshly-cut green wood for growing fungi due to the presence of all the phytochemicals the tree uses to prevent being consumed by fungi. These break down soon after the tree dies, at which point the wood can be colonized. More of these chemicals probably means a longer wait until an inoculation will "take." But that's just speculation and is why experiments are needed.
Conversely, waiting too long allows competitors to take hold, so a good experiment would be to do a series of grows on wood of known age (in terms of time since being cut) to find the optimum amount of time to wait after cutting the wood before inoculating it. To minimize the variables I'd cut a bunch of wood all at once and inoculate a new batch from it every couple of weeks or so, storing the unused portion outside (but under a roof and out of the weather). Ideally, test trays or beds would be grown indoors under controlled conditions using an isolate of your chosen mushroom species.
Also, if I were growing on it I'd like to know that the various compounds found in the wood that are toxic to humans (there are some) are not going to be drawn up into the fruitbodies of fungi. Unfortunately that means a relatively expensive laboratory analysis of the fruitbodies (i.e. chromatography). Or feeding them to an assistant and watching them closely for a while (as dictated by your budget)*. This is probably not a major concern once the wood has completely dried out since it's been used in China to make cooking utensils for millennia (and the compounds are either volatile or easily broken-down). But if you're cultivating fungi on it at a stage where the compounds are still present then it may be an issue.
I'd guess that the toxicity potential from growing fungi off the wood is very low, but when it comes to things I eat (or that I intend to feed to anyone else!) a "guess" is not good enough.
4. My last big question for now is inoculating veggie oil...i dumpster dove a whiole bunch and now I want to get spores into it - so that i can go through the woods and saw some junk trees and kick start them into growing mushrooms...has anyone tried this? i know you can buy the premade stuff but i want to know how to do it myself...
Old fryer oil is some nasty stuff. Unless you were very picky and knew just where to get it, it's almost certainly got a lot of animal fat in it and is already rancid. Not sure if rancidity would affect anything, but it might. Also, it likely has a lot of funky contaminant spores and what-not in it so you might want to consider heating it to ~300 degrees F or thereabouts for a while to sterilize it and possibly to drive out any residual cleaning products it may be contaminated with, just in case.
If nothing else, be sure to filter the hell out of it before running it through a saw (I wouldn't run old fryer oil through mine at all). You might want to consider just cutting the trees and inoculating the wood with a spore slurry or growing a PF TEK style jar using sawdust instead of rice flour, then breaking up the cake and using it as spawn (sandwich-style between a few rounds cut from the stump).
Traditional inoculation methods would be easier for such a small-scale project; the spore-infused bar oil seems best suited to cases where growing fungi wasn't the primary goal (it's more like a concession to the inevitability of large-scale logging; if it's going to be done anyway, might as well try to make it a little less devastating to a habitat and use the infused oil).
In any case, good luck in whatever you ultimately decide to do...
*Don't really do that. Makes it hard to find decent assistants, among other problems.
Edited by TVCasualty, 17 April 2015 - 11:39 AM.