Around our place, Henry’s projects are often multi-purpose because he keeps both ecology and utility in mind. In this case, he’s attempting to provide good habitat for birds and bugs, allow his prized coast redwoods to grow as fast and as well as possible, and put food on the table.
Five years ago, he underplanted a couple hundred coast redwoods below a heavily thinned 60-year-old Douglas fir stand. Redwoods grow slowly in shady conditions, but they’re more likely to survive our marginal climate if they start off in the shade. Henry LOVES his redwood trees.
The redwoods are well established now, so in an effort to increase the light that reaches them and therefore their growth rate, he girdled a dozen or so 20-year-old bigleaf maple trees about three weeks ago. Girdling a standing tree will kill it and leave snag structure for pileated woodpeckers, bugs, and other forest fauna to utilize. Cutting them down now could have smashed the young redwoods or other understory plants like tall bugbane. Plus, these maples were too small to bother removing them for firewood anyway. For now, they are still quite green and completely leafed out, but they should die this summer.
Henry ordered these oyster mushroom spawn plugs online from Fungi Perfecti. The instructions direct users to drill and plug them into a freshly cut log. Henry’s program is a bit experimental because he’s plugging them into a standing, mostly alive trees. There is a chance that this method might not work very well or at all.
Henry drilled a number of 2″ deep holes with a 5/16″ drill bit.
Here are the holes drilled into a filigree of snail trails.
He hammered the spawn plugs into the holes. If all goes well, these mushroom snags might produce a crop this fall or maybe next spring without any further attention or mainenance. Oyster mushrooms are delicious, so I am very much looking forward to the day we get our first harvest.