- [Announcer] Lion's mane, oyster, shiitake, chestnut, these consumable mushrooms are being grown at HENOSIS near Nashville. Julie Berbiglia learns the process from inoculation to harvest. Did you know that many common garden plants can cause harm to pets or young children if ingested or even touched? Marty DeHart shares some valuable information on toxicity in plants, this and more, join us. Bet you didn't know that mushroom growers are considered ultimate recyclers. - These beautiful mushrooms that you're seeing here are growing in the Whites creek area near Nashville, inside at HENOSIS. And David Wells is here with me today. And, well, we're not gonna hold him up. We're gonna start harvesting. - Just get it right at the base and twist and pull here. And then you've got approximately a pound of mushrooms per bag. And then we just put it in a little harvest bin and off to the market or off to one of our restaurants and we're good to go. - [Julie] All right, this is incredible. I love these mushrooms. They always look a lot like cauliflower to me, but I know they're called lion's mane. - That's right. - And such a favorite. So how would you describe their taste? - They have more of a crab-like taste to them, more of a seafood. Mushrooms are really closely related to seafood. They have chitin, so it's similar to what is made out of shrimp. A lot of chefs now are blacking them and then throwing them right on a grill for 20 minutes, pulling them off, and put it right in the center of the plate. - [Julie] Wow, these are amazing. There is a fantastic variety of local mushrooms that you can buy, things that you probably are not going to see in your regular supermarket. In fact, here is one that I've never seen before and I'm in love with already, because it looks like a pretzel bite. So, David, what in the world is this cute little thing? - [David] This is a new mushroom called a chestnut mushroom, and it's edible from cap to stem. And the longer you cook it, the crunchier it gets. So it makes really good substance for soups, for stir-frys. Like the name, it's really, really nutty, so it's delicious. It's a new chef favorite. People at the farmer's market love it. The shelf life's good, so it'll stay good in your fridge for roughly a week and a half. It just makes for a unique flavor profile. - [Julie] David, I see you have some shiitake mushrooms growing here. How far along are they and how long do we have to wait? - [David] We have around three days left on these to be ready to harvest. You know, the latest one here that we could harvest if you wanted to is this guy right here, but this is sort of the problem child in the mushroom world. They take a lot longer to grow than your oysters and your lion's mane. So they take up a lot of space, and they're the only mushroom that you have to take the bag off to produce the mushrooms. So every step of the way is a little more technical, but people love shiitake mushrooms. And they just form three different stages, so they'll turn white on these blocks and then they form a popcorn stage, which they get rigid, and then they form this bark. This is called barking, and it turns brown. And then, eventually, you see these little baby mushrooms come up in the bag and then you strip the bag off, water it down with a hose, and then, 10 days later, you'll have a shiitake mushroom. You know, shiitake mushrooms like wheat bran. So they've really been adapted over centuries to just really do well on wheat bran. That's like the nutrient, food source is wheat bran. - Now, mushrooms, I think, are sort of the secret to everything. It's such a circular economy. Let's learn a lot about how we grow these. So what we have here is the substrate. As I'm learning, this is what the mushrooms are going to grow on. Now, David, this is beautiful. What is it? - So we take agricultural waste from row crop farmers and agroforestry, which we're really well positioned in Tennessee for that 'cause we have a lot of wood mills and we have a lot of soybean production and corn production. So they all have their own agricultural waste. So we utilize some of the same food sources that the cattle industry uses to feed and fatten their cows and their pigs, but it also makes for great mushroom food. But what we do is we combine the two. From the agroforestry side of things, we use hardwood fuel pellets, which is just sawdust. So this is what people use to heat their homes if they have a wood pellet stove. And then we take another byproduct from the row crop farms. So we use soybean hulls. So they take the soybean out and they're left with a hull and they pelletize it. And they usually feed it to to cattle or cows, but again, if we put these two together in a 50/50 mix, we have mushroom food. - So this is incredibly sustainable. I like the way we're using all these other products. Now, we've got it all mixed together into this beautiful substrate, and I guess it has to be sterilized, as far as I recall. - So we just add water and then we throw it in a steam chamber that's gonna get it up to around 200 degrees for around 14 hours. And so it's gonna kill off all the other things that want to eat mushroom food, so bacteria, molds, and it's gonna provide a clean slate for us to get as much fungus on the substrate as we can. 'Cause the more that that colonizes the substrate, the more mushrooms we produce at the end of the day. - Okay, so now the inoculation method, I imagine for each one of these different types of mushrooms, you're gonna have a different inoculant. - Correct, so if we want to grow shiitake mushrooms, we have fungus that we use to put into that bag that's strictly just for shiitakes. So there's different companies that specialize in giving us what we call mushroom spawn or grain spawn. And so another agricultural use for grain is to grow fungus on it. It's similar to like a seed start. It's not a spore, it's just tissue that's literally eating and consuming grain. So we use this as sort of the start for mushroom production. We use grain spawn, we use two tablespoons of grain spawn per five-pound bag of mushroom substrate or mushroom food. - Okay, so we've got it all happy and housed in here. And I guess, what do we need now, warmth, light, air to make them fruit? - So mushrooms, like us, they really like 70 degrees so they really need to incubate, similar to what chickens need to hatch eggs. They will incubate on the side here for us. And for around two weeks, they'll consume the mushroom food and then they'll completely colonize the bag until it's completely white. The other thing that fungus needs is oxygen. So like us, they breathe oxygen in and exhale carbon dioxide. And so as long as you can continue to give them fresh air, they'll be healthy. And the other thing they need is moisture. We will put it in our grow room and we provide them with fresh air, 90% humidity, and just a little bit of light to show them which way to grow. - Well one of the interesting byproducts of this whole process is this beautiful compost. So, David, I see you have some spent substrate. - That's right. - If I'm saying that right? - That's right, so this is already pretty much decomposed from a primary decomposer, which is fungi. So that facilitates other microbes to eat that same mushroom food. So we compile this up. We just take our plastic bags off and house it in our compost pile. Over about a month long period, all this will heat up and all the microbes that are running around on that fungi just decompose, spin spawn, spin substrate. And it makes incredibly rich microbial and micronutrient compost. - [Julie] So something that you can go ahead and put in your garden for growing other plants. - [David] It's beautiful for gardening. It's not that hot, so it doesn't have a lot of nitrogen in it. If you could supplement it, it works great for all vegetables. But the key really is all the microbes are in this compost. It's not dead, it's alive. So they help the plants get all the nutrients in the roots and grow beautiful tomatoes, squash, cabbage, anything you want. - Now, could you use this compost to grow more mushrooms on? - So we have a research grant that was provided by the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Department. It's a subsidiary of the USDA. And so what they do is they provide farmers with money to do on-farm research. So the button mushrooms grow on compost. So we're growing a unique mushroom called an almond portobello that has essence of almond in it. It's delicious, and we can utilize this waste product and grow more mushrooms on it and then still have compost in the end to grow crops. - This is a fabulously circular economy that you've got going here. - Oh, thank you. That's our aim here. We really are looking to be a regenerative mushroom farm, cut down on our waste, utilize it as best we can, give back to the ecology, give back to the community, and just provide a nice basis for a biodiverse environment. - You have so many varieties of mushrooms, many that I've never seen, so go ahead and list them out for me. - So we concentrate on oysters, lion's mane, black pearls, chestnuts, shiitakes, and almond portobello. And we also turn those products into value-added products, so we make mushroom jerky, spice blends. We also have grow kits that people can grow mushrooms at their homes and just have fresh mushrooms ready to go. We have our pink oyster kit, which is more of a tropical lover. So you can grow it in temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees. We also have a wine cap mushroom that you use in your garden as a way to produce mushrooms that are edible, but also kind of put in place a naturally occurring fertilizer. As it breaks down the organic matter, it's gonna feed your plants. It's also gonna help keep the weeds out. A very popular one right now, lion's mane mushrooms. They take around 14 days to produce, a little longer than your oyster mushroom, but a big bang for your buck. People can use that in place of crab substitute. It's also great for kids just to watch the mushrooms grow in their place and just sort of learn about the lifecycle of fungi and ecology in general. - [Julie] David, it seems to me that everything you're doing here is so focused on sustainability and using all of the parts that you can. This seasoning blend, that's another part of your sustainability efforts. - Yeah, that's right. We just try to keep mushrooms out of the landfill. If we can upcycle them and turn them in a product that we can use in our kitchen, that's the goal here. And so, with our mushroom blend, we just blend our chestnuts and our oyster mushrooms into a powder form, add a couple more spices in there. We have garlic, we've got some pepper, but it makes for a really nice umami-rich spice that you can throw on corn of the cob or you can blend in soups. And then we have a new product that we're coming out with, it's a mushroom jerky, very similar to a meat jerky. A little more sustainable in that we're using sort of our B-grade mushrooms that maybe we can't sell to the restaurants or the farmer's markets. We boil those mushrooms and then we take those and marinate them in any kind of blend that you want. So, right now, we are doing a teriyaki blend. And then we dehydrate them and you've just got this incredible, umami-rich, teriyaki-flavored jerky. - [Julie] And then another product I see here is this tincture, tell me about it. - So big in the mushroom world, there's our supplement line. So we offer three different tinctures. We have a lion's mane, a reishi, and a new cordyceps tincture that we came out with this quarter. Reishi is great for women's health. It helps to fortify your gut, and then lion's mane is great for mental health. So there's some clinical trials that show that helps to increase your focus, your cognition, and really fortify the neurons in your brain. And then cordyceps is really known for invigoration, stamina. So it helps to increase the ATP production so when you're working out you don't have as much loss in your in your muscles due to lactic acid. - [Julie] David, thank you so much for letting us come out to HENOSIS and learn all this wonderful stuff about mushrooms. - Well, it's been great having a volunteer gardener out. It's good to see you again, and please come and see us at one of our farmer's market locations. And we look forward to seeing the show. - Now, mushrooms, if we've learned, they're such a circular part of the economy. It's something all of us gardeners love, knowing that nothing is being wasted. So whether you're enjoying them fresh or you're growing your own or some of this wonderful jerky, make sure that, next time you're looking for something fun to do, you think about mushrooms. - It's planting season, and we're all eager to get out there and get our hands in the dirt and put great stuff in our gardens. Today, I wanna talk a little bit about plants that have toxicity, frankly. And they're really common plants that we frequently put in our gardens. They're not so toxic that you can't be around them, they're toxic in a way that, if they're eaten or sometimes even rubbed up against, in the case of one of these I'll talk about, it can be problematic for dogs, cats, and toddlers. And that's where you really need to think about these things. So I'm just gonna go over some of these things that are pretty common. You may recognize them and you may be surprised. The first thing I'm gonna start with is lily of the valley. And you can see this has just finished blooming. It's spring, and they're an early spring bloomer. And those little nodding white bells are so beautiful. People grow this in the shade for a ground cover. And it's a lovely little plant, and it's one of the most poisonous plants in your garden, believe it or not. All parts are super toxic, but the danger of this plant is if the flowers are fertilized, and they frequently are, little red berries develop in the late summer, which are very attractive. Animals will eat them thinking they're just berries and kids will pick them and eat them, and it can be fatal. It's a terrible thing. This is a plant to think carefully about if you have little children, in particular. Flowering tobacco, a very beautiful annual, this is a dwarf variety. Tobacco, well, we all know about tobacco. And this actually is a tobacco and it has nicotine in it, which is a toxin. As a matter of fact, a very potent insecticide is made from nicotine. So that tells you that it's toxic. Once again, ingested, not a good thing. The same is true for our beloved little begonias. This is not highly toxic, but you'll get throwing up and diarrhea and problems if this is ingested. This is a young morning glory. Morning glories are super poisonous. I don't know if you've heard, but the seeds are banned in some states because they're badly hallucinogenic if eaten. But the plant itself tends to be toxic. Once again, this isn't a plant that most animals will try to eat, but sometimes they do and it can be a problem. With this, it's a nerve toxin. So you'll get tremors and maybe even, you know, seizure kind of stuff. This is a foxglove, a beautiful biennial, we love them, tall spires in the spring. Digitalis is the botanical name for this plant and they make a medicine or synthesize a medicine that originally came from this plant for cardiac patients. And they only give a little bit because it's very potent. So if eaten too much, it causes cardiac arrest. This is not a good thing. It's a beautiful plant, but one to watch. Here's one that almost everybody has, a day lily. Who doesn't grow day lilies? Day lilies are allied to true lilies. And I wanna emphasize that, to cats, these are fatal if ingested. They usually cause kidney failure. This is particularly true, be careful if you get Easter lilies and bring them inside for the season or whatever. It doesn't take very much and your cat can die. And some cats, it can vary from cat to cat with day lilies how sensitive they are, but there are cases where cats have sort of just wandered through the foliage here and then they sit down and groom themselves and they'll get sick just from having rubbed up against the foliage and then grooming themselves. A little bit of the sap gets on them and that's all she wrote. I wanted to make clear that with day lilies being so toxic, the same is exactly true with all the other lilies in your garden, Asiatic lilies, Oriental lilies, the Orienpet series which is popular now, like Casablanca, the beautiful big white one. Really beautiful plants, divine smelling, gorgeous color, super poisonous to cats. Just beware. Here's another plant that we all love, and this is one of those big mophead blue hydrangeas. This is Endless Summer. I think most people know this. It's a re-blooming variety. Typically, animals don't bother it, but inexperienced animals will try, especially when the flower buds come up and they look kind of like chunky vegetables or something. They almost have a broccoli kind of look as the heads are, the immature flower heads, those immature flower heads have cyanide in them, it turns out. So that's something just to keep in mind. And it's particularly true if, I'm thinking again of toddlers who tend to want to go out and break flowers off and give them to you. Just be careful with that. This is hellebore, and I think most people know that hellebore is super toxic. I'm just including it because it's one of the most toxic plants in your garden. And, fortunately, there's something about it that animals will avoid. They seem to know. In the garden, I've only seen it eaten once and that was by a very young deer. And that deer is an ex-deer now. It would not survive eating a hellebore. but they're beautiful plants, bloom in late winter into spring, gorgeous evergreen foliage, a fantastic perennial. I use them all the time in my designs. But just be forewarned. The only real danger to your pets with this is they make really good cut flowers. And if you cut the bloom and bring it in and either float it or stick it in a vase, sometimes indoor animals will want to check it out, and that can be a problem. Here is, you know, a southern favorite, the azalea. My goodness, who doesn't have azaleas in their yard? Scientifically, azaleas are rhododendrons. They're all the in the same family and they're all toxic. And it's not just the flowers. Just ingesting a few leaves can be problematic. For full grown animals, it's not fatal. They'll just make them really sick, make them, you know, throw up and diarrhea and they'll wish they were dead, maybe, but it won't kill them. For little animals, it's a little more dangerous because of the lower body mass. So rhododendrons, all the members of this whole family, the heath family tend to be that way. Not only azaleas, but rhodos. Also like mountain laurel, which we love to use, Pieris, which we use in our gardens, all of those have that capability of being toxic if ingested, if the leaves are eaten. There are a lot of plants in the Arum family that we love to grow both indoors and out. This is obviously a Caladium, which we plant outside in the summer. And Arums have a problem in that they all have little crystals of calcium oxalate in them. And when eaten, those crystals penetrate the lining of the throat and the mouth and the the larynx and the pharynx and all of those things. And they are extremely painful to the animals, make them throw up violently, inflame the lining of the throat and the mouth, and cause long-term problems. They don't last forever, but it can be a few days before it dies back on your plants. And in my experience, these plants are ones that animals will typically try. I don't know why. There must be something about them. But in your wildflower garden, you've got jack in the pulpits, same family, calla lilies, same family. In the house, philodendron, spathiphyllum, peace lilies, same family. They all have this characteristic of these little crystals in them that are bad. And I've seen many animals try to eat spathiphyllum, peace lilies, particularly, you know, indoor cats and when you put them out on the deck for the summer, so in the shade. So just be aware of that. Another group of plants that are toxic but not hugely so but I wanted to make you aware are the ones with the milky sap, which are Euphorbias. At Christmas, we have poinsettias, and, you know, you break them and they've got the milky sap. There's a lot of sort of common knowledge, so-called, that poinsettias are deadly. They're not, but that sap is mildly toxic. And the same is true for this very popular Euphorbia, which is called Diamond Frost. And we often plant it in our containers in the summer. It's a beautiful kind of billowing filler plant, but it's got the same issue with the milky sap. And here's a tomato. Tomatoes will make your animals really sick. And the only animal I've ever seen trying to eat these, the foliage, are dogs, not cats. And the fruits don't make them sick, but the plant itself will. So that's just an overview of some stuff to watch out for, stuff that most people try to grow and that you just might wanna be cognizant of. Just be aware that they can present problems in the wrong setting and just know what you're doing with the plants that you buy. - Every spring we go through these motions of getting our gardens ready. We wanna mulch, we want everything to be pleasingly beautiful. But I believe that there are other ways that we can mulch. Why do we use mulch? Well, number one, it makes things look pretty, but underneath is what we need to be thinking about. We mulch because it conserves moisture. We mulch because it keeps down weed infestation, and then we because it can enhance the soil. But I'm just gonna reverse that whole list there and say I'm gonna mulch because it's going to enrich my soil. I have brought in all of these leaves. They sit over winter and when I would put my fork into them, here we go, see, a lot of them come out just like this, even with nightcrawlers in them. Now I wanna take you to an area where I have used this principle for at least five years. This is an area that I spent a lot of time in, a lot of money and labor. I would bring in maybe six loads of mulch and completely mulch this area until I decided there was a better way to do this. First of all, I have in this area a black gum tree. So I wanted to preserve that tree. So with that in mind, I began to, what I called circle the wagons. In the fall, I would ring around this area of three trees and keep continually blowing in the leaves and the grass. There are leaves in here, not beautiful dark mulch. I have cut down on weeding. I have enriched the soil. This area is pretty maintenance free. And I do have the Lenten roses in here. And as you can see, they're in abundance here because they are happy. I think they like the leafs. I think the seeds come out, and they don't bother me at all. Some might call them invasive, but they're evergreen and they're doing quite well in here. So I believe that, again, I have enriched the soil, I have made it easy to maintain, I don't have the expense. So why would we wanna take away from Mother Nature the abundance of the Earth and the beauty of using leaves? - [Announcer] For inspiring garden tours, growing tips, and garden projects, visit our website at volunteergardener.org, or on YouTube at the Volunteer Gardener Channel. And like us on Facebook.
April 27, 2023
Season 31 | Episode 16
Lion's Mane, Oyster, and Chestnut. These mushrooms are some of the varieties in production at Henosis near Nashville. Julie Berbiglia follows the process from inoculation to harvest. Some commonly used plants can cause harm to pets or young children if ingested, or simply touched. Marty DeHart has a warning on toxicity in garden plants. Annette Shrader touts the benefits of using leaves as mulch.
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Mushroom Production-Sustainable Agriculture
Lion's Mane, Oyster, Shitake and Chestnut. These are some of the consumable mushrooms in production at HENOSIS near Nashville. Mushroom cultivation is quite different from growing garden vegetables. We follow the process from substrate mix to harvest and learn how truly sustainable it is.