Instructions for Fungi Amendment to Compost
START WITH FEEDING FUNGI FIRST THEN ADD FUNGI TO COMPOST OR SOIL.
Store spawn in a cool environment, such as a cooler or a clean outdoor location where temperatures do not rise above 35-50 degrees. Spawn can keep 3-6 months at well refrigerated temperatures. Should temperatures rise any higher for long term storage, refrigeration is recommended. Monitor fungi spawn to be sure it does not appear to be fruiting. Remove any fruiting bodies before adding fungi spawn to compost.
Use a clean a bucket or bin with a lid, so it may be sealed. A small crack or pinhole may be added to a container to keep it clean while fungi regrows. These pinholes provide for oxygen without a significant amount of added contamination. Fungi are able to regrow best once the first run of spawn is finished in a bag, then additional foods may be added.
Break apart fungal spawn bag, compress gently just enough to crack the spawn surface in each bag. DO NOT SMASH, PULVERIZE, OR CRUSH. This is damaging to the fungi just as when compost is turned… Feed wood chip spawn in like manner.
Per 4.5-5lb bag of sawdust fungi add ¾ pound of fungal foods and for woodchip spawn add ½ pound of fungal booster foods directly onto the fungi. This step is completed without compost. Stir and mix evenly in a crumbly texture, work apart loosely with open hands. Leave small lumps of fungi intact (1” woodchip size pieces). Do not mix multiple fungal strains! Each must grow back separately.
Add standard fungal foods such as fish hydrolysate and oats, and a small pinch of bone meal or fish bone meal (compare to recipes). Add dry ingredients as an even dusting over spawn first. If using dilute strength liquid fungal food, add about 30 grams per bag, add the remaining part ~310 grams of dry fungal foods (a type of flour) and 280 grams of water. Add equal amounts of water to dry foods, less water if using a liquid hydrolysate, keep 50% moist. A squeeze leaves one droplet between the pinky and palm or pools without running. Do not completely wring it! It may take longer for woodchips to absorb moisture. If adding a type of fish bone meal or cattle, count it towards the fish hydrolysate, and add only a few grams. Mix foods evenly to prevent contamination during the growing stage (prevent overheating in spots or anaerobic spots where the richness of foods are all concentrate at one location.) Mixing is easy, because foods will stick onto the spawn before adding additional water. Up to a pound may be added for fungal sawdust spawn but it must be mixed very well and in clean conditions. Water may need to be treated with humic acid.
The whole pile may be sprayed or injected with fish hydrolysate to encourage fungal growth throughout, use sparingly in the entire pile- half concentration…. Adding too much food may cause the biology to drive down oxygen to anaerobic levels in the compost pile. These problems are often associated with several strong unpleasant odors (odors from spoil foods). In finished compost odors are uncommon, even with addition of some foods to promote the biomass of fungi or bacteria. Some fish hydrolysates are different than others, some may be missing the oils (chondroitin) or vary in potency. Figure out the best amount for you. For bottled formulas use maybe 2 teaspoons per gallon and up to 3 teaspoons per gallon, which is the ideal amount to regrow fungi that will satellite into a pile. Keep a close eye on it for a week or two, check inoculation sites without digging to see if it is growing back. If not, add more fish hydrolysate or if it appears to be shrinking back. The mycelium might be growing well subsurface.
If compost is very rich in bacterial competition consider reducing the amount of foods to ½ pound, do not measure the water, just foods. Be sure to use principally fungal foods. If over 500 µg, try using this ½ pound recipe at the end of this document.
Another way to prepare the spawn is layer a five-gallon bucket. This method might take a week or longer to regrow. Soak very clean cardboard to 50% wet, optionally include at most one tsp of fish hydrolysate. To do this, add an equal weight in water (and liquid fish hydrolysate) to dry cardboard. Then feed the fungi spawn as instructed. Place layers of fungi spawn in between, thoroughly cover the cardboard with marble-sized pieces. Allow the spawn to continue growing through the bucket. Too much nitrogen food may result in contamination of fungal spawn, avoid adding an excessive amount! A bucket like this may be kept somewhere fairly warm or cool. Never freezing or above 80 degrees F.
Wait at minimum one to usually three days…
Fungi can be added sooner to compost piles but regrowth will not likely be as strong. Optionally wrap in cardboard (treated with an equal amount of water in weight in cardboard) on the second day, then allow a third day to put out in a dowel-like manner into a compost pile.
Spawn can be inoculated onto woodchips. Typically, in woodchips which have been soaked three days (or 50% soaked straw), add spawn after it has been regrown (from step 3). The acquisition of additional fungal foods should look complete. If adding the fungal spawn to a compost pile, try using only clean woodchips, which will be grown on top a pallet or inside a clean burlap bag free of contaminants, allowing exchange of fresh air. KEEP AT 50% MOIST; don’t allow it to drop below 30% moisture and never overwater the substrate above 60% moist, be sure water can drain! A row 10’x 5’ of woodchips may be used about 6” deep. Fungi spawn added to wood chips may take at minimum several weeks or months to finish growing.
Finally after seeing significant regrowth, place crumbly textured fungi into the compost. It is best to wrap lumps of fungi spawn into fish or water soaked cardboard to protect it further from compost pile competition or excessive bacteria that will fill pore spaces for oxygen, etc. Add the fish hydrolysate while inoculating the pile or do so at your prior convenience. (If you layered a bucket, simply remove cardboard layers in rolls.)
DO NOT ALLOW SPAWN BAGS TO GROW SIDE BY SIDE WITH CONTACT. Rapidly growing spawn will heat up and kill the fungal spawn bags that are holding the excess heat (this is likely due to consumption of foods and oxygen from rapid fungal growth and heat). To avoid this, allow some room between each bag. If fungal booster was added to the bag, please follow this warning to prevent damage to the fungal spawn. Otherwise, place spawn in a tote in a cool location, mix in a thin layer. Monitor that it does not get above 80-90 degrees or the container should not feel excessively warm.
If fungal spawn is not to be used all at once handle spawn with clean nitrile gloves. Misting with rubbing alcohol can prevent contamination or with hydrogen peroxide. Use safely - do not breathe in vapors from alcohol or directly off growing spawn. Keep unused spawn sealed and cool, allow the air patch on the bags to stay clear of contaminants and undamaged. Try to use spawn as soon as possible so it does not become difficult to work with by growing thick layers.
WAIT: Leave the spawn undisturbed/unturned for at least a month or several weeks in a compost pile. A fungal mass should be noticeable in time. Water appropriately keeping compost at 50% moisture, never dig down into it. Injecting fungal foods with a hand-pump sprayer every other week may speed up fungal growth (see pile injector recipe). When fungal food outweighs the supply of bacterial foods, a pile should be noticeably fungal. This will depend on the original pile composition. If the spawn is found covered in green mold or strong smelling, this means the bacterial biomass could be too high, including other substrate competition which produce enzymes to take up substrate. Adjust your compost pile recipe accordingly (the bacterial high nitrogen foods vs fungal wider C:N foods). Adding more spawn may or may not make a difference in this situation.
For Mixing Large Bulk Loads:
For larger bulk supplies of spawn, one can either mix fungal spawn out on a large clean tarp. It would be best to double the tarp up to be sure there is no contact with outside soil contaminants. DO NOT ALLOW TO OVERHEAT IN CLOSED AIRTIGHT CONTAINERS.
For larger bulk composts it is possible to mix in the fungal foods immediately with spawn without taking time for fungal acquisition, but be sure to test this method on the specific substrate before buying large quantities to assess the risk. Spawn will often take to compost if the substrate is appropriate. Wait at least 2 weeks. Plan ahead for experiments on bulk piles.
BULK SPAWN SHOULD NEVER BE MIXED INTO A LARGE HEAP WITH ADDITIONAL FUNGAL FOODS. OVERHEATING WILL OCCUR AS IN BAGS AND A LOSS OF THE ENTIRE SPAWN RUN IS POSSIBLE. ALWAYS SPREAD OUT INTO A THIN LAYER OR MIX IN THE BAG EVENLY AND TAPE CLOSED. IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT FOODS BE MIXED VERY EVENLY AND SHOULD BE PLACED IN A SHALLOW LAYER INSIDE A CLEAN PLASTIC BIN FOR SMALL QUANTITIES OF SPAWN. CONSIDER THE THICKNESS OF THE SPAWN BAG WHEN LAYERING.
IF COMPOST IS HIGHLY BACTERIAL THE SOLUTION MAY BEST BE TO PLACE DIRECTLY INTO THE SOIL OR ANOTHER CLEAN SUBSTRATE FOR PROLONGED GROWTH. UNEVEN MIXING OF FUNGAL FOODS WILL LIKELY CONTAMINATE BECAUSE THE FUNGUS WILL BE UNABLE TO ACQUIRE ENOUGH FOODS IN HIGHLY CONCENTRATED AREAS. USE LESS FOODS IF MIXING IS DIFFICULT.
High levels of bacterial biomass may interfere with substrate inoculation due to unusually high competition in the substrate. If the compost or substrate is well over 2000 micrograms of bacterial biomass, a sample needs to be tested for viability and there is high risk of losing the fungal amendment. There are laboratory accommodations for these procedures. The buyer acknowledges these are guided experiments done at their own risk of loss should misuse of the spawn amendment occur. Directions are offered for those best substrates which apply, discretion is advised. Somewhere between 300-500 micrograms of bacteria are said to be ideal for more fungal species to survive in compost well.
If compost is over 2000 micrograms of bacteria and there is no fungi, there may be an issue with the carbon bulk density in the pile, and the pile may need larger particle sizes, salts levels are too high included in manure or piles are designed with too much nitrogen. There are possibly other issues with compost to discuss, added a consultation.
Be sure to use only flour textured dry fungal foods, as this improves the points of contact for regeneration. Coarser foods may take longer to consume and may not look thick like in the photo.
¾ Lb. Recipe
Add ~310 grams of dry fungal foods (use only flour sized particles)
30 grams fish hydrolysate or bone meal
280 grams of water (add 30 grams more if using dry fish or bone meal)
½ Lb. Recipe
Add ~210 grams of dry fungal foods (use only flour sized particles)
20 grams fish hydrolysate or bone meal
190 grams of water (add 20 grams more if using dry fish or bone meal)
**Measured weight by fungal foods
Not supplying the above mentioned ingredients may result in loss of fungal spawn. The mixture of foods is critical, as one ingredient by itself may not support the fungal spawn under the competition in the substrate.
The Liquid Fungal Foods Injector Recipe (for 2 gallon injectors)
(For one yard compost piles)
½-1 tsp sea salt or mineral salts (slows active bacteria) – add to pile once or twice
4-6 tsp fish hydrolysate
(Other fungal foods may be added in small amounts, kelp powder, oats, etc. be sure not to plug the nozzle)
Protozoan Culture- Made for the Specific Compost Pile
(best prepared at 65-72 deg F. or reduce these foods in half for warm weather)
Rather than using foliage to grow a Protista culture, this recipe uses the compost to inoculate after aeration. If you have high bacterial biomass, 2000 µg, add to the brew only 1/8th a bag, or diluting somewhere near 100 µg of bacteria. First off, take care of 2 tsp of fish hydrolysate, 1/8th tsp Kelplex, 1/8th tsp unsulphured molasses, before adding compost. Put a minimal amount of humic acid in to treat 5 gallons of water. This targets the dominant bacterial culture in the compost acting similar to a monoculture to allow it to be more biologically balanced.
Aerate the culture for 48-72 hours. A microscope should be used to check if the culture is booming! If there is no such equipment available, aim for 72 hours in cool weather, and 48 hours in warmer weather.
If adding the above liquid fungal food to the protozoan culture, treat the water first separately with the food so the antimicrobials will be tied up with humic acid or diluted. This will prevent the kill off of the compost culture. Ideally, these protozoa derived from the compost will effectively diminish any monoculture forming and therefore affecting the richness of the compost microbiology.
Add some fungal spores from a saprobe mushroom of like succession, this appears to help the protists grow from my experience.
These instructions may be subject to change as research studies uncover better science to grow fungi in composts.