Mushroom agroforestry, eh, not yet.

Larry Caldwell larryc at
Thu Aug 21 03:41:07 EST 1997

In article <33FA5672.3BC8 at>,
Michael Hagen <mhagen at> wrote:

> I think you're on your way to the first Temporate Agroforester (PNW
> division) of the Year Award. 

Well, so far it's mostly just talk.  I did try the truffle innoculant last
winter, and have some left for this year's planting.  I'm also going to 
expand with some chanterelle innoculant this fall.
> Don't get me going on mushrooms.  I'm looking forward to our usual late
> August rains. Chanterelles!! Most folk miss the first ones. Around here

<Grin>  Speaking of rains ... it's been raining here for about 12 hours.
This is the first precipitation of any kind since July 9.  

> box. Where I go, shrooms seldom even appear above the duff. Short of
> taking a bushel or two of the duff back with you and culturing it (which
> would really blow your cover and your spot :) I haven't heard of a
> successful culture from matsus. (The best patch by far I have ever found
> was in a coastal dune forest with lodgepole pine, arctostaphylos and
> dwarf manzanita.)

Yeah.  I don't know where I got the idea armillaria ponderosa was 
mycorrhizal.  I guess the grooves in my brain have filled up with
crud again.
> By the way, I've never heard a hog ring.... 

It's an old farmer technique.  When you pasture hogs, they make a royal
mess out of the pasture by rooting.  You can stop their rooting by putting
a ring through their snout.

I've cleared out a lot of underbrush with pigs.  You can confine them with
a simple nose-height strand of electric fence.  Once they get bit a couple
times they will never even test the wire.  They will make excellent use of
whatever is laying around on the forest floor, like slugs, snails, grubs,
acorns, roots and such.  You have to supplement with corn, but they pick
up a huge amount of free protein foraging woodland.   They're hard on
seedlings.  A rough test is if you can step on it and lay it over, it
won't survive in hog pasture.

Pastured hogs make great meat, since they build a leaner meat with an
entirely different flavor than confinement pork.  However, on the scale
I can raise pigs, it's hard to find a market.  In the past I've confined
my operations to family and friends locker meat.  Even that is getting
tough, since all the small cold storage lockers have gone out of business
around here and I'm limited to what I can freeze myself or dispose of

There is a local USDA meat packer.  Before I buy another batch of pigs
I may try to contract sell them for the local market.
> Woods grown ginseng in the west seems to be a challenge. We've got
> slugs, fungus, dry heat, wet heat, snow, dry cold, dank Springs,
> blowdown, boomers, squirrels, deer, elk and entrepreneur harvesters to
> contend with along with being at the beginning of the learning curve.
> Out here no one's done it in the woods, for very long.  I grew up where
> the stuff was wild and you picked it for spending money but it was
> already rare in the '60s. I'm trying it now, but its definitely
> experimantel. I want to have done it for a few years, in a few different
> ways before I recommend it as a landowners option.

Yeah, I was just planning some small test plots.  My big question is if
ginseng will survive our hot summer drought.  Most small plants just curl 
up and die after 60 days of 90 degree heat and no rain.  I sure don't 
have the water to irrigate.  OTOH, I do have some closed canopy slopes 
that would be ideal, north exposure, closed canopy and deep topsoil.  

All a guy can do is experiment and see how it comes out.

-- Larry

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