Removing stumps can be a long, difficult, and exhausting task. There are many methods from digging it out, using toxic chemical, to stump grinding. Somewhere in this spectrum of tree stump removal methods there is removing the stump organically. That is, removing the stump using natural products, methods and allowing Mother Nature to do all the hard work. This article focuses on using mushrooms to speed up the process of decomposition. There are plenty of other organic stump removal methods, this is just one.
Before I begin – organic stump removal isn’t for everyone. It should be used for people who don’t require the stump removed immediately, have limited funds or have an organic philosophy to life.
Stumps are massive. They take several years to decompose unaided. So if that stump is going to be around you might want to make the most of it and get some edible mushrooms out of it… right? Tasty gourmet mushrooms are natural stump removers. They break down the stump while producing a wonderful supply for your gourmet dinners. Mushrooms can halve the time it takes for a stump to be fully decomposed.
Before you start a word of caution – you need to be able to identify the difference between poisonous and edible mushrooms. Just because you plant edible mushrooms doesn’t mean that a poisonous species hasn’t beat you there and has started growing first. You need to be able to correctly identify the mushroom you intend to eat, mistakes can be fatal.
You’ll need to pick a suitable mushroom for the job. Mushrooms like shiitake and oyster grow very well on logs but are not suited for growing on stumps. Stumps are a highly competitive environment and you need to use a mushroom variety that can handle competition. There are some mushrooms that are stump specialists so you may want to consider these; agrocybe aegerite (black popular mushroom), hypholoma sublateritium (brick top mushroom), grifola frondosa (maitake), laetiporus sulphureus (chicken-of-the-woods mushroom), trametes versicolour (turkey tail mushroom). I will leave it to you to do your research and decide what is best suited for your environment and taste buds.
The method is actually quite simple. You need to inoculate the stump with mushroom plug spawn. This is a small wooden down that has the particular mushroom that you were looking to grow on it. Drill a hole in the log or root and then hammer that dowel in, making sure to seal the hole with wax upon completion. Obviously, the more plugs you put in the better. You can space them at around 2-3 centimeters apart. If you don’t have access to a plug spawn you could alternatively use sawdust spawn in the holes. It is harder to protect, but well worth the effort.