Which Wood Chips to use for Wine Cap Mushrooms
Before we go into your sources for woody fodder, we want to get ahead of the question "What kind of wood chip?" If you're using a base of straw, the type of wood chip isn't important. Generally, any wood type will be successful as long as you let the chips age in the elements for several months before using them for your mushroom bed. You will want to make sure to inoculate the chips with spawn before they turn very dark which indicates that the chips are starting to break down further than ideal for Wine Cap. We recently did trials with as many different wood chips types that we could get our hands on- you can read and watch the results by browsing our blog "Choosing Wood Chips for Growing Wine Cap Mushrooms" or tuning in to our Mushroom Minute on the matter.
Where Should I Source Wood Chips for Wine Cap Mushrooms
We have compiled a list of 5 trusty ways to source wood chips for your mushroom cultivation.
ChipDrop works with local tree companies across the nation to help them dispose of their unwanted, excess wood chips. Did you know that many tree removal companies have to pay the landfill or compost dump to offload their chips? This is not only a bummer for the removal company, but also for the environment if the chips end up in a landfill. ChipDrop tries to prevent this lose-lose situation by linking up tree-removal companies with people wanting wood chips. If you're interested in getting your hands (or pitchforks) on some chips all you have to do is signup at getchipdrop.com and they'll have chips delivered straight to your yard. Keep in mind that you can receive A LOT of chips from an individual drop so plan on using any excess to mulch in yard plants or consider splitting the drop with a neighbor.
2. Local Arborist
City arborists often have excess chips from jobs that they're willing to part with. However, you may need to pay the arborist depending on your location for the chips and a delivery fee. This will largely depend on the individual arborist and the demand for chips in your location.
3. Local Compost Dump
Remember when we mentioned that tree-removal companies send excess chips to the dump? There's a chance you can swing by your city's compost repository and find some wood chips that are up for grabs. However, more often than not they are not dumped separate from food scraps and grass clippings, so you may have to do some selective sifting.
4. Nursery/ Landscape Centers
Most nurseries and landscape centers will have bulk hardwood mulch for sale and you can often purchase a load as a stand-alone product. Keep in mind that the percentage of bark, species, and level of decomposition can be quite variable. Some barks have greater sugar content and nutrition, others are extremely lignified making for a slow spawn run. In general, "Hardwood Mulch" is a reasonable substrate for Wine Cap, but expect your fruiting window to be variable.
5. Chip Your Own
If you own forested land, you likely have ample branches waiting to be chipped. However, this requires you to either own, rent, or borrow a chipper. Chipping your own can also be time-consuming if you're looking to plant a large wine cap bed. While this is the option we opt for at the Field & Forest Farm in order to keep tree species separate for research purposes, we would highly recommend checking out the above resources before springing for a chipper.
...A word on bagged store-bought mulch. We do not recommend buying bagged mulch for several reasons. The first is that most landscaping mulch is treated with an anti-fungal chemical to slow decay which is problematic when you're trying to grow fungi. Second, many of these mulches are dyed for a certain aesthetic appeal, introducing unknown factors into cultivation. And finally- bagged mulch is expensive.