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Thread: what i learned about gardening last year

  1. #1
    Boolit Buddy
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    what i learned about gardening last year

    since spring is coming I thought id share. over the years I always watched my fathers and grandfathers gardening process, they'd rototill spread artificial fertilizers maybe some lime and mushroom compost, and plant seeds in rows then water every time its dry. and always in short order it would be covered in weeds much faster than the crops and they'd have to go back and keep rototilling between the rows and pick weeds around each crop. and I always thought there must be a better way to do this but I didn't know what.

    then one day I was watching a podcast where they were talking about mushrooms and I had a "duh" moment where I realized an area with only dirt and plants is an incomplete ecosystem that needs your intervention. so last summer I convinced my dad to bury his whole garden in a layer of straw, then spread wine cap mushroom spawn in the straw, and bury that under 3 inches of small wood chips. the mushrooms will quickly root the whole wood layer into a matt as one big organism.

    and I realized how much better this is. the top mushroom layer keeps the soil underneath always moist during dry spells. the mushrooms decompose the wood into mushroom compost fertilizer that runs down to the dirt layer for the plant roots to eat. since the top is just wood instead of dirt and already rooted with mushrooms not much weeds grow or atleast an easily manageable amount. no need to rototill anymore. just poke a hole in the wood layer and drop a seed in and It roots down to the rich layer underneath. and the best part you pretty much double your food yield since you get gourmet mushrooms and plants.

    the only real maintenance you need to do is add a bit of woodchips every year or two and the mushrooms do all the work for you since its not a partial ecosystem.

    most people can find a place that gives out free woodchips from a forestry or tree service, you probably drive by someplace that has a huge pile. as for mushrooms, wine caps (king stropharia) is among the best species for this in my opinion as they are easy to identify, have large temperature range for producing and will survive winter freezing, and produce lots of good size mushrooms. wont go over mushroom planting process but its pretty simple, places like field and forest products sell 5.5lb blocks for 25 bucks and you crumble and spread it. the first year you'll probably spend more than you would otherwise but afterwards assuming you can get free woodchips your pretty much set from then on.

    id really recommend this practice to anyone who gardens and is willing to try something new. I really enjoyed checking for mushrooms everyday as one day there will be none and the next day there's big mushrooms out of nowhere, its certainly more fun picking mushrooms instead of picking weeds lol.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master

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    That is pretty neat. Been thinking about a garden but the weeding and prep would have killed my back. I like your approach. Thanks.

    Ron

  3. #3
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    look up "back to eden" its about this style of gardening. just be careful not to till the bark and wood mulch into the soil, it gives off something that inhibits growth, rather rake it off and reuse it on top.
    if you are ever being chased by a taxidermist, don't play dead

  4. #4
    Boolit Buddy
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    that seems pretty similar except they just leave to top layer to be decomposed by whatever naturally comes along. I think you might as well take advantage of the top layer to grow edible mushrooms, so you have more control of what's living in your garden, mushrooms to eat, and they say the mushrooms will kill some types of bad bacteria, but either way is better than exposed soil. one of the things I just read says you should make sure you get seeds all the way down into the dirt layer, ours we had small corn already popped up at the time of covering, some tomatoes and peas were planted after but everything seemed to do well. but one year my dad tilled wood chips into the soil and said it didn't do well, apparently makes a big difference having separate layers.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master Handloader109's Avatar
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    Saw similar except for no mushrooms. Second year looked good.

    Sent from my SM-G892A using Tapatalk

  6. #6
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    Weed block cloth... I no longer till, just drag a spade sideways to make a channel in the slit I cut in the cloth, plant seeds. Done. Every 2 yeas I tear it all up and till in manure then change the garden layout to stop plant diseases. Most of the cloth lasts 4-5 years before starting to break down.

    I do have an advantage of starting with very rich soil...

  7. #7
    Boolit Buddy
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    but... weed block cloth soaked in manure doesn't sound as tasty as mushrooms

  8. #8
    Boolit Grand Master popper's Avatar
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    Wood requires nitrogen to decompose and sucks it out of the soil.
    Whatever!

  9. #9
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    Fungus in the covered wood will soon populate the soil, you will have a garden full of that unsightly stuff you see growing on dead logs. The mesh idea works well, allows moisture through and keeps weeds down. Be sure to lap the stuff generously and not leave gaps.
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  10. #10
    Boolit Buddy
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    im not sure what you mean populate the soil? the mushroom species only lives on wood chips, straw and similar material. ive had mushroom beds for longer than this and ive never seen anything else growing on the chips besides the species I planted unless I didn't colonize it heavily enough. I wouldn't call it unsightly it just looks like a normal mulch bed with the mentioned mushroom species popping up every two weeks or whatever.

    if you just cover a garden bed in wood chips without intentionally colonizing it with a species than you will have a free for all with random species floating in and trying to grow, which is why i recommend intentionally planting mushrooms if your gonna do a mulch covered bed so you have control over what happens.

  11. #11
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    Our soil is terrible and we have tried everything. Fertilizer, plastic, manure, hay. Nothing works. I finally built some raised boxes, bought some soil and put Black Cow in it then covered with straw.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmortell View Post
    im not sure what you mean populate the soil? the mushroom species only lives on wood chips, straw and similar material. ive had mushroom beds for longer than this and ive never seen anything else growing on the chips besides the species I planted unless I didn't colonize it heavily enough. I wouldn't call it unsightly it just looks like a normal mulch bed with the mentioned mushroom species popping up every two weeks or whatever.

    if you just cover a garden bed in wood chips without intentionally colonizing it with a species than you will have a free for all with random species floating in and trying to grow, which is why i recommend intentionally planting mushrooms if your gonna do a mulch covered bed so you have control over what happens.
    mushrooms do not grow in most parts of the country, consider yourself lucky to have them work for you.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by popper View Post
    Wood requires nitrogen to decompose and sucks it out of the soil.
    +1 on this.
    You can add nitrogen to offset this and speed up the decomposition.
    Before plastic covers, sawdust was often used as a mulch for strawberries and tomatoes. You had to double the applied nitrogen to get the plants to produce a decent crop.
    I don't like plastic mulch because it is too much work to remove ( the weed block cloth is stronger and easier to remove but much more expensive.)
    Roundup ready, BT sweet corn is sure easy to grow.
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  14. #14
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    Mushrooms? in a veggie garden with full sun?
    Seems all the Mushrooms I know of, prefer shade over full sun.

    If I spread wood chips on my garden, and inoculated it with spores, I'd have baked/dry wood chips and NO mushrooms, unless we had a rainy spell...but those never last the whole season.

    I use tree leaves and grass clippings as mulch to block the weeds. I til spring and fall, but never need to til during the growing season. I do add a small dose of fertilizer in the fall, because the leaf breakdown does pull a little nitrogen out of the soil. The worms sure love the leaves.

    I don't mean to criticize your technique, one thing I've learned about living at different locations, is that Gardening techniques are all about the soil and climate where your garden is...it seems different locations prefer different techniques. I grew up in a area where the farmers needed to irrigate most crops, to get a crop. I now live only 60 miles from that area, and this area needs just the opposite, the farmers need to drain the farmland with underground tile and no one irrigates.

  15. #15
    Boolit Buddy
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    wine cap mushrooms will still grow in full sun and prefer low to medium moisture making them kinda different, only thing is if you leave it unpicked in full sun it will fade from burgundy color to brown tan than after that dry out, but it don't really matter since its the roots that do all the work and is the organism, the mushroom itself is only to spread genes elsewhere like a seed on a tree.

    im in PA if that matters, my book says they'll grow generally north and south.

    some are saying breaking down wood in soil steals nitrogen but I haven't seen anything that mushrooms breaking down wood into compost has that problem. im not a botanist or whatever but im assuming its a different process, soil probably uses microbes and bacteria. for now im gonna trust that mushroom break down woody material into everything that plants need as they do in nature. for specifically gardening in a mushroom mulch bed ive only heard good things and soil improvement.

  16. #16
    Boolit Buddy
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    Quote Originally Posted by jonp View Post
    Our soil is terrible and we have tried everything. Fertilizer, plastic, manure, hay. Nothing works. I finally built some raised boxes, bought some soil and put Black Cow in it then covered with straw.
    I’m confused, does the cow eat the weeds? And the straw must keep her warm? Ha!



    Im curious about trying this method. I like natural solutions.

    For everyones info there is a web site called CHIP DROP, just go sign up and you can have tree services bring you free chips and/or logs, or a combo.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master RogerDat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jonp View Post
    Our soil is terrible and we have tried everything. Fertilizer, plastic, manure, hay. Nothing works. I finally built some raised boxes, bought some soil and put Black Cow in it then covered with straw.
    Had a neighbor with the same problem. Sandy soil. They covered the soil with cardboard boxes to block the weeds and tilled the rotting cardboard in the following year. Took a few years but eventually that cardboard provided a nice supply of plant material to the soil. Went from sandy to loam. I think the key was the cardboard provided something to catch and hold the other things such as manure or fertilizer etc. I think it would work in clay soil too but this case was sandy soil.

    I mulch with straw but then my garden isn't all that large, a couple or three bales is plenty. I might need some manure or peat moss this year too. Only down side is the straw encourages moles and the dogs hunt the moles so some excavation will probably happen. However we with the dogs we don't lose anything to bunnies so it probably balances out.
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  18. #18
    Boolit Buddy
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chainsaw. View Post
    Im curious about trying this method. I like natural solutions.
    one could always start small if they're curious. with a small block of spawn and a wheelbarrow of chips you could just cover one corner of a garden as a trial run, then the following year if your still happy with it you could gradually expand the border of the chips and the mushroom will grow into it for more food.

    not much to go wrong there, maybe everything goes wrong and your out 20 bucks. I will admit its a strange feeling to just burry your whole garden its not the easiest sell. my neighbor I started a small corner for and he wants to expand it now, mainly because his hunger wasn't satisfied by 3 mushrooms a day lol.

  19. #19
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    https://northspore.com/products/wine-cap-sawdust-spawn

    Wine Cap does best in partial shade but can tolerate some direct sun. Ideal locations would be at the edge of fields and woods, around the base of trees, in perennial gardens, or as part of the mulch in vegetable gardens, where annual veggies will provide some shade.
    Well, I have to say, I may have to consider an experiment with this.
    bmortell, thanks for sharing.

  20. #20
    Boolit Buddy
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    aye. if ya read that link its the main reason im advocating this, because over the projects ive had lately this is probably the best reward per effort/cost and its actually as easy as it sounds.

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