Broccoli’s Best Bud

Last Friday, Miss Mac’s class and farm interns Nancy, Chris, and Matt teamed up to lay out or new Stropharia beds between rows of broccoli.  We hope that the addition of Stropharia mycelium will accomplish three things in the soil environment of the plant crop.  1: Increased aeration 2: increased water retention 3: increased availability of nutrients.  While Stropharia Rugoso-Annulata is a saprophyte (eats dead stuff) it does well in soils with minimal dead debris.  Therefore, we expect that our rows will begin to proliferate with mycelium, which will then weave through the soil of the adjacent crops.  While the broccoli that is in the ground now will be harvested in late June, before the mycelium will have much of a chance to work its magic, a new crop of Fall broccoli will replace it.  This could be Henry Got Crop’s first bumper crop of monster broccoli crowns.

Here’s what we did.  First, we dug out about 30 feet of trench between broccoli rows.  We then laid out a mixture of hardwood sawdust and wood chips (courtesy of the Farimount Recycling Center).  With the more myceliated side facing down, we placed our colonized cardboard spawn on top of the wood chips.  On top of that went a layer of straw (salt hay, it’s actually reeds but should do just fine), followed by another layer of cardboard spawn and finally a layer of leaves.  The purpose of this final layer is to hold in moisture and also to function as a “casing” layer for the mushrooms.  Some species of mushrooms, Stropharia R.A. included, need a layer of material they don’t fully colonize on top of the main substrate.  This is where the mushrooms fruit, and explains why some mushrooms can be found under areas where leaves or soil are beginning to push up.

Hoping the thunderstorms forecast today knock down a chicken tree or two, not near any houses of course.


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