Mushrooms: More than just delicous to eat!!

Last February, Forestry worked at the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory removing and pruning trees in the North Garden, Palm Dome and Tropical Encounters. The Horticulture department also recently hired a new Horticulture employee that has an interest in growing mushrooms! Our new mushroom expert suggested that we try growing mushrooms on the stump that was leftover from Forestry cutting down a large Mackaw Palm in Tropical Encounters. We decided to give it a try. Traditional methods of stump removal could not be implemented because of the birds in the exhibit. The picture to the left shows Forestry removing the Mackaw Palm.The first step was to get the mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus – the Oyster mushroom) growing on grain. The grain was colonized and transfered onto sawdust. Once the sawdust had been colonized it was used to cover the stump and shoved into cuts that had been previously made. The sawdust and stump were covered with a plastic pot and landscape fabric for a week to allow the mycelium to jump from the sawdust into the stump. After one week the cover was removed, the material was well watered, and then covered with soil. We hope that the soil will hold in the moisture needed for the mycelium to grow, rot the stump away, and hopefully produce mushrooms in the process. The picture to the left is the covered inoculated sawdust and the picture below is the uncovered sawdust with white mycelium growing.