At a recent ProSilva forest day I ran into a forest friend Jonathan Spazzi, an Irish based Italian born forester who is also a mycologist (a fungi expert). I had attended Jonathan’s fungi foraging workshop organised by Blackstairs ecotrails about two years ago and was surprised at the variety growing in woods in the area. As a former microbiologist I still have a fascination for the microscopic world which supports so many of life’s processes. My former experience is with bacteria more than fungi but I would have cultured both in the past.
Tonight my forest contractor, fellow Kiwi, Sean Hoskins came round to help me drill holes in some freshly cut willow logs for the fungi impregnated plugs Jonathan had sent me. We’re both enthusiastic to see how we can transform forest thinnings into something else (and extra yummy) and enrich the forest at the same time. They take a few months to grow so I’ll update you with our results later on.
We drilled holes about 10-15 apart around the logs. You then store the logs in a dark place at 20C for 3-6 months then put the logs outside in a damp and shady place for fungi ‘frutification’.
Oyster mushrooms are a nutritious food “oyster mushrooms are rich in protein (up to 30 percent by dry weight), plentiful in B vitamins, have no cholesterol, and have significant levels of the cholesterol-lowering molecule lovastatin — up to 2.8 percent by dry weight (Stamets, 2005; Alarcon, 2003)”. Read more about the oyster mushroom by fungi legend Paul Stamets here
Sitka spruce logs are unfortunately not good for cultivating fungi. However I remember chatting with Jonathan previously about Ireland’s new plantations of Sitka spruce and the fungi that are growing beneath them. Already, in just a few decades, Jonathan said there are species of fungi in Ireland that are new and working specifically with Sitka spruce. Fungi are incredible – ever adapting networks that manage and maximise nutrient exchange between our soils and our plant-life. If any of you have worked with fungi and forest thinnings, I’d be interested in your comments.