Friday, January 15, 2010

January 2010 - Mycelium

We have mushrooms growing all over the garden. This is great news. 
Basically having mushrooms in your garden is a sign of healthy soils

Mushrooms are the fleshy, spore-bearing fruiting body of a fungus produced above ground but the real magic is underground in the mycelium. Mycelium (plural mycelia) is the vegetative part of a fungus, consisting of a mass of branching, thread-like hyphae.

And why is this so exciting?
This means that the garden soil has myceluim growing underground. 
Mycelium is vital in the ecosystem for its role in the decomposition of plant material. It contributes to the organic fraction of soil and its growth releases carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere. The mycelium of mycorrhizal fungi increases the efficiency of water and nutrient absorption of most plants and confers resistance to some plant pathogens. Mycelium is an important food source for many soil invertebrates.

Giancarlo inoculated the garden soil with edible fungi spores a few months ago and it seems like its working.
 Mushrooms reproduce by spores that grow under the cap, spores are similar to seeds but they microscopic and store less energy.
Since they are impossible to see, the spores are mixed with water, it is easier to spread them in a large space for inoculation. 
The inoculation process looks something like this picture, we put the top of the mushroom in a bucket of water, the water now has the spores and that water is spread throughout the garden. The spores will "germinate" when they have the right conditions. Basically inoculation means "planting" spores.

All kinds of mushrooms came up, different species than the ones that Giancarlo had planted.
This one for example. I'm not sure what it is, but they are everywhere.
I think it is a  Lactarius cf. rufulus  but I'm not sure nor am I ready to eat it. If any body knows do tell me.

 I think its time to sign up for a mycology class.

There is also this mushroom growing in the greenhouse. Any ideas what it can be?
It is probably some kind of Ascomycete, maybe a Peziza, but I'm not sure

And this cluster of little idea

They are everywhere but they are tiny and hard to see.

This ones are growing in horse manure that we mixed in the soil. There is a possibility that they could be in the Psilocybe genus but again I'm not ready to try them. Any volunteers?

They surely look like they could be Psilocyben no?

And this ones are tiny but I think they are a Lycoperdon sp.

If you are not a big fan of fungi yet. I highly recommend you learn about fungi.
Fungi is it's own kingdom and has the largest living organism on earth.
One of the primary roles of fungi in an ecosystem is to decompose organic compounds. Petroleum products and pesticides that can be contaminants of soil are organic molecules. Fungi therefore has the potential to remove such pollutants from the soil environment, a process known as bioremediation which is being used in brown fields to clean them up.
I leave you with this TED talk on mushrooms: 

Paul Stamets on 6 ways mushrooms can save the world

If you want to read more on mushrooms:
Stamets, Paul. Mycelium Running, Ten Speed Press,U.S.A. 2005 

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