Using Wine Cap Mushrooms for Soil Health

Wine Cap Stropharia (Stropharia rugosa annulata) is native to North America and is being trialed for multiple uses, not just for food.

Wine Cap Mushroom Mycelium
Wine Cap mushroom filters
Wine Cap Mushroom Mycelium

Using Wine Cap Mushrooms for Run-off Filtration

Most of us plant Wine Caps outdoors for food in big beds of wood chips, straw or a combination of the two. Other people are looking at Wine Cap for something extra. For example, in agricultural regions with livestock manure run-off problems, Wine Cap mycelium can be grown into straw and wood chip-filled burlap sacks. The sacks are tucked into watercourses, swales, or ditches and with Wine Cap's powerful mycelium-knitted net, the sacks are able to screen out bacteria and debris that would otherwise end up in waterways.

Using Wine Cap Mushrooms for Suppressing Disease

Wine Cap is also being tested as a disease-suppressing agent by mulching myceliated straw in with potatoes and tomatoes to thwart Phytopthera and Alternaria. Grape growers are testing Wine cap mycelium for disease suppression under grape vines, not to mention the ability for the mycelium to capture nematodes.

Currently we are participating in a SARE Grant that focuses on using Wine Cap to build the health of the plant (as well as soil). In this study we test for different compounds within tomato and corn plants and compare them against the same plants that were mulched in with Wine Cap. While we are still testing, the results have been visually appealing in that the plants in Wine Cap plots have appeared more robust.

Using Wine Cap to Build Soil Healthy

Most usefully, Wine Cap mycelium digests straw and woody litter within a summer or two, quickly converting large thick mats of organic material high in carbon to a rich layer of organic matter and humus. Wine cap can digest most wood chip types within several seasons, allowing chipped wood to not only return to the soil, but also enrich it. We often co-plant our gardens with Wine Cap, not necessarily to have a crop of mushrooms, but to ensure a continuously healthy site for our garden plants.


When to Plant:
Late Spring - Early Fall
What Kind of Wood Chips:
Whatever you can get your hands on!
Video on Building a Bed:
Video on SARE Grant: