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Hi all,

Haven't been on here for a long time, but thought I'd post an update with several observations.

1. Our planting efforts in Ohio and Colorado so far have not yielded any results. We continue to try, though. I have been cultivating pint-size mason jars of black and white spore and planting it in my yard in Colorado this year. This fall, I built some retaining walls and enriched the beds with aged horse manure. Then I planted about 25 small blue spruce trees. When I planted the trees, I rubbed either black or white morel spores onto the roots. I also mulched pine needles with a yard vac and spread them over the beds for moisture retention. I added more spore to the mulch and raked it in and watered. I completed all of this in early November, about 2 weeks ago. I don't expect any results by next spring, but if I get any, I will report them here.

2. I can report some success from Ohio, but not from our recent planting efforts. My parents moved into their house about 60 years ago, and I can remember hunting mushrooms from when I was very small. I will turn 63 soon. They always threw the mushroom wash water out into the yard. This spring, for the first time ever, morels came up in the yard. I will attempt to load a couple of pictures.


<a href="/Users/Loren/Pictures/Pictures/photo%201.JPG"> /Users/Loren/Pictures/Pictures/photo%202.JPG

Hope that worked. Anyway, if it did, there are two pictures of grays. There was also a spike in a different part of the yard, but I don't have a picture. So, while this is a success, I can't call it a rousing success if you have to wait 50 years for results.

3. Regarding cultivating the spores, I bought some spores on eBay, and have been replenishing my supply by using some of the cultivated spore to inoculate new media, kind of like people do with sourdough bread and friendship cake. I have met with increasing amounts of success.

For the growing medium, I first tried a formulation I found on the internet, of 50% grain and 50% potting soil. I sterilized it in the mason jars in a pressure cooker/canner. It was not a pleasant smelling process doing the sterilization, and after growing the spore, the stuff in the jars smelled awful enough that my wife wouldn't let me keep it in the basement anymore.

For my second batch, I tried a mixture of half coffee grounds and half sawdust. This produced a much less foul smelling product. I didn't bother with sterilizing the media. To inoculate, I kept one jar of mature spore and divided it up between the other jars of new media. I made sure I kept the same spore in the new media that had been in the jars previously. The mature jars smelled kind of like earth, a little musty. I was very satisfied.

For my third and fourth batches, I have used straight coffee grounds. From my observation, this has worked the best. I again divided up the contents of one or two mature jars into the new media. I filled the empty jar about half way with grounds, then mixed about a teaspoonful of mature media in. Then I filled the jar the rest of the way and mixed another teaspoon in the top half. No sterilization.

With the pure coffee grounds, I found that the spore begins to colonize very quickly. The latest batch is two weeks old, and the jars already have a fine wool growing throughout. The spore seems to take to the coffee grounds very aggressively. No need to sterilize or use filter paper or any of that.

I also found that Starbucks gives away their used coffee grounds to anyone who wants to use them in their garden. The best places are the locations that put their used grounds back into the silver bags that the fresh grounds came in. One full bag is almost enough to refill about two dozen pint jars. The capuccino grounds are the finest grind, and they usually don't have used filters in the bags, either. This batch, I am also trying out just adding the spore to about a half bag of the used coffee grounds, and taping the bag shut with duct tape. I haven't checked the bag yet, but am confident that will work fine.

So, I highly recommend forgetting about all the grain/potting soil/filter paper/sterilization rigamarole. Just go with used coffee grounds from Starbucks. And seed new batches from old batches. Finally, if you do try to cultivate more than one variety or source colony, make sure to keep subsequent batches in the same container with the same seed culture.
 

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Okay, apparently I don't know how to attach a picture. Just take my word for it that they were cute little grays about 3" tall.
 

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4yuks, if you belong to Photobucket just copy & paste the HTML Code to your comment. Also, Photobucket is Free to join.


<a href="http://s1197.photobucket.com/user/mushroomjack1/media/IMGP0003_zps53c0b2bb.jpg.html" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">
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To get morel spawn to form sclerotia per the Ronald Ower method that is patented, you must add calcium carbonate (lime) to the nutrient poor layer which could be nutshell hulls.
In addition to this a small amount of nitrogen must be supplied which is done with urea of a small amount. The best way to get this would be to use Miracle Gro either all purpose or bloom booster mixed at the amount for indoor plant feeding per a gallon of water. You need it that dilute.
The same nutrients that plants utilize are the same ones the morels need. Phosphates as well.
This will be your "morel vitamins".
 

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Discussion Starter #46 (Edited)
jdk - Nice pics of Chinese cultivation success with morels. The 4th pic looks like the partial success of a Michigan venture a number of years ago that was high tech, 24/7, biotech approach. Seemed that after a bacterial outbreak, they never were able to get the facilities sterilized for a restart and the investors wouldn't put in more money.

I'm still oriented to working with Nature not totally controlling it.

After sitting out several seasons after my mother died, I'm gloing to put more effort into it. I've learned a few things from perusing the Chinese patents outstanding (around 26-30) and the latest book of cultivation techniques by Tradd Cotter called Organic Mushroom Farrming and Mycoredediation.

Cotter gives a good trench stratification technique that incorporates the the dynamic evident in Chinese success of bringing into proximity a nutrient rich and nutrient poor area.

The first successful technique in China incorporated 4" wide (hoe width) trenches with adjacent 4" wide spacing. These were done in 4 ft wide beds of various length depending on the building, originally lashed bamboo arches making like a quonset hut style.

So the basic difference is the Chinese put down 100's of rows densely and Cotter basically does one row in the woods and in proximity to trees.

What I'm doing now is using local morels and taking action to have a mycelium slurry active and available for fall trenching.

What Cotter recommended that I'm going to use is adding some of the dirt from the stem base into the slurry after it develops sufficiently; keep it refrigerated and or at some point simply freezing it and thawing out in the fall and let it continue.

Interestingly, one of the Chinese patents i downloaded was for the time shifting technique of taking an apple, cutting out a plug and putting an inside tissue piece from the Morel cap into the apple hole and then putting the plug back into the apple, dunking the apple in wax to seal it and putting this into refrigeration. It would keep for up to 4 months and the mycellium would slowly colonize the apple so that when it was opened up there would be a more abundant amount of tissue to work with at that later time.

2016-5-(May)-5 003.jpg


What I brought home from the woods was the mushroom cap and root dirt stem base.

2016-5-(May)-5 001.jpg


Swirl the morel cap into two cups of boiled water for 30 seconds and put the cap back on. After 24 hours, refrigerate. After a three or more weeks a biofilm and brown coloring should be evident. Then add a small amount of the soil (soil yeasts, bacteria, microorganisms) from the stem base from "Home" with its teeming life forms is added to the water. After a few more weeks, freeze until ready to activate and use.

2016-5-(May)-5 004.jpg


(note: I just cleaned up failed picture links 9-7-2017, sb)
 

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SB - my only problem with even trying to experiment is finding morels in the first place! I did try soil testing as we talked about in the past. In the areas where I have found them in the past the range is 5.4pH to 7.0. So I am not sure that is a factor. FYI.
 

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Discussion Starter #48
Shagbark -- I empathize with you.

I was hoping to again find Morels in my own back yard to use as they would be site specific in terms of acclimation.

As it was I found Blacks and Yellows on the same creek as runs along my back yard but maybe 1/4 to 1/2 mile away. Maybe that's good enough.

When my inspiration and aspiration boiled over into action this season, the Blacks were over I thought, but I made one last effort and found a still standing partially dried Black on Wednesday, 5/4/16. I'm using it as I noted that Tradd Cotter said that his experience was that the Morels he used to seed the boiled water (by swirling the cap for 30 seconds in the water) could be dried. They didn't necessarily have to be fresh.

Quote from Cotter's book: "I have also allowed the fruitbodies to dry completely and still had success with both sterile and nonsterile spore germinations. As for the soil, I either refrigerate or freeze it to preserve the microbial community.."

Do you have any "Dried Morels" from your farm that you saved? If so then you could still go forward.



 

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SB - the ones I have dried have already been "swished" in water and I have been dumping that water in our raised asparagus beds. The asparagus beds are new and we control the ph. In a farmer's world ph is one of the big things you fret about! pH is right at 6.8. Beyond that with the morels, it's hocus Pocus! However the asparagus are awesome!

I did read the material you sent and it all sounds great on paper! As a mechanical engineer (former life), retired, all the chemistry gets me lost! I will offer if you ever do get anything you believe to be viable for testing, I can offer about 400 acres of test spots around the farm. I would love to be able to cultivate commercially! Think about that prospect here in Ohio!
 

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Discussion Starter #50
5yuks -- Forgive the loooong delay in response to your 11/24/15 comment. I liked that last comment on finding non sterile techniques to be attractive.

After all morels in the wild don't need sterile environments, they just need their own requirements or needs to be met and they do just fine.

I've tried some also and met with partial success as I tried a scattergun approach because I wanted to ride the learning curve more quickly.

So, for that reason, I've begun the approach outlined above for this season, to carry forward to next spring.

These are aspects of technique available or acessable to us all.

There is an aspect of the Chinese success evident in one of the patents that I had translated that I've not done or even tried to do. They would physically examine 1st stage culture strains under 1,000 optical magnification and could identify the strains that had vibrant growth (superstars ha!) and these strains are the ones they would multiply and use for their outdoor cultivation. Other strains could produce fruiting but I seem to recall the rate could be twenty times higher with the "high chargers right out of the gate" so to speak.

I would love to get microscopic pics of what the differences look like and make it available for the more serious Morel cultivator, hobbyists. On this, I haven't started. Whether I or someone else does it, I believe it is inevitable.
 

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Discussion Starter #51 (Edited)
Continued:

I found notes from a (translation of) Chinese tv interview with the prime patent holder on Morel cultivation.

Here's what my notes were:

Morel spores can be separated into male and female spores.

They collect wild Morels each year for spores.

Only 20 to 30% of morels produce spores.

In the Ascus, in the spore encasement there are 8 spores, 50% male and 50% female.

In the spore sprouting, if proportions are not 1:1 mycellium will grow but not be as productive of fruting, or production actual mushrooms.

Perhaps this is what the Chinese are looking for/seeing when they examine the potential mycelium strains just after spore germination, looking for the right strains for the mother strain to carry forward.
 

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Discussion Starter #52
Shagbark -- Cotter in his book considers pH to be important in forming the growing trench of three layers. On page 219 in Step3: Fill the bed (trench) with Nutritive Medium, he targets an expressed ideal pH of 7-8.

Again in Step 4: Add the Nonnutritive Casing Soil, Cotter expresses a pH ideal of 7-8 saying:

"You want the pH between 7 and 8. This is critical, since most morel strains are very specific about pH for optimum metabolism. If your soil is acidic, you will need to add lime, a cup at a time, mixing it into the wet slurry. Repeat the squeeze test until the pH rises to between 7 and 8 and stays there for at least an hour. Then drain the casing soil, pouring away the excess water, and use it immediately to cover your nutritive layer."
 

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Cotter makes a funny observation - because most of the soil in Adams co. is highly acidic. This I know because the first time we went to the feed store for lime they asked how many pallets we wanted....

Many of the old timers here find bread bags of morels in drainage ditches and other places you would not think to look. One of my neighbors gave up 2 spots, one was in a pawpaw grove - about 1 mile of pawpaws along a stream and another area loaded with trillium. Both require fairly acidic soils. one of the areas - pawpaws requie fairly acidic soil, but what was interesting about that area were the American elms. Some close to dead, others thriving in the marshy, pawpaw grove. He said in good years that area had bread bags of sponge mushrooms. Not this year because we looked (together) he's older - and not a one! I hope to test that area for pH.

As for pH in the asparagus bed - it's optimal for them...it's just a whim -- and a hope the morels pop up. If I ever get a great bag full I'll try some of the other things....
 

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Discussion Starter #56 (Edited)
10 days ago I found a dried shitaake on my logs, innoculated in 2011.

I thought, if the mycellium want fruit so bad they will try in that loooong dry spell, then I'll just water the logs for 10 days to two weeks.

So, today I took this pic below of the first 3 to pop. Yesterday like the end of your little finger, today like the end of your thumb.
 

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Discussion Starter #57
Hugh,

Don't know how frequently you check in . . . however I would like to ask a question.

I recall two years ago you posting about getting Wine Caps from your chip bed in the back yard and it I recalled that was the second year.

Question is: Are you still getting Wine Caps? Did you add to the bed to continue the fruiting:

I planted some Wine Cap mycellium 4 years ago. I can still find the mycellium strands in the chips but never got it to fruit.
 

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Discussion Starter #58 (Edited)
This is the Shitakke on June 30 -- I should have cut the two biggest then: slight in-rolled outer edge.
2016-6-(Jun)30.jpg


On July 1, the very next day, they had pancaked.
2016-6-(Jun)30 001.jpg



. . . and some little critter had nibbled on the edges.

Reminds me of leaving tomatoes on the vine "one last night". That's usually the night the raccoons get them. Ha!
 

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Discussion Starter #59 (Edited)
The gift that keeps no giving. (these logs were inoculated in 2011!)

2016-10-(Oct) 8 001.jpg


My inoculated shitake logs responded to the 3 rains of more than 3 inches total week before last and these beaut's I harvested this morning.

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When they first bud out on the logs, I create a burlap tent with a few small bamboo sticks over the logs and against the fence to create a better moisture environment for the development of the caps. I drench with water: the logs, the pine needle bed underneath and the burlap twice a day.

It works.

2016-10-(Oct) 8 005.jpg


These are fresh perfection that you very seldom match at the grocery store, ha. Just slightly inrolled edges and they will be cooked tonight . . . yea.
 

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Discussion Starter #60 (Edited)
I've grown to like "Mother Nature" surprising me with Shiitake mushrooms in the back yard. After 5 years worth from my 2011 logs, I realized it was time to renew my small investment.

I bartered with a friend in Hocking County and we cut down a 6-7" thick oak and I took 5 nice pieces 36-40" long and 5-6" wide and he kept the rest.

The cold and freezing arrived before I could inoculate and still have 4 weeks of mycellium grow time before the freezing, so I took the logs into the warm basement this last week. I'll keep them there for 4-6 weeks.

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I ended up getting twice the mycelium impregnated wood dowels I needed, so after doing mine and my Hocking County friend, I'm putting the rest in the refrigerator where they will keep 4-5 months till Spring.

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While not necessary, I like tagging my logs with basic info: wood type, date, mushroom type, by cutting an aluminum can and inscribing tags.

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