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Donated Logs From the UW Arboretum Get Second Life in the Garden

Friday, April 01, 2016
by Kaitlin McIntosh | Public Relations Intern

The Allen Centennial Garden is looking forward to a bountiful harvest of Shiitake mushrooms by as early as this fall! Thomas Bryan, a Nelson Institute Ph.D. student and greenhouse manager at Leopold Hall, partnered with the Garden and the UW Arboretum to make this exciting project happen. Longenecker Horticulture Gardens Curator, David Stevens, generously donated extra maple, beech, musclewood and crab apple tree wood for the project.


Normally, these trees would be used as mulch or firewood. Recycling the logs to grow edible food crops like Shiitakes benefits the environment and our communities. As the wood decomposes, it feeds the mushroom mycelium, and eventually the mushrooms become food for us!


Colonizing Shiitake mushrooms is a simple process, and easy to maintain over time. Shiitakes are part of a fungi group called White Rot Fungi and are known for their capability to decompose both lignin and cellulose portions of wood, which is rare. So long as the colonies are cited in shady areas and receive moisture every two weeks, they can last as long as eight years.


Bryan and a team of 12 Garden volunteers and 18 UW students from a class Bryan teaches on food production in the Leopold Greenhouse, worked on building the log structures for the Shiitake mushrooms. The volunteers and students drilled holes into the logs in a diamond-shape pattern, placed mushroom “dowels” into the holes, and covered them with wax. The dowels are full of fungi cells that will eventually colonize the wood as it decays.


Some of the log structures found homes with Garden volunteers who helped build them and some will go back to the Arboretum. Once the Shiitake’s in the Garden are fruitful, excess harvests will be donated to student organizations like Slow Food UW, the UW Dining Halls, and local food pantries.


If you want to try this project in your own garden, we recommend Field and Forest for your supplies. They are a local business and ship quickly.

The Allen Centennial Garden and its programs are funded entirely through private support - it receives no state or tuition dollars. To help support the Garden and continue to make our projects and programs possible, please consider a donation.

Tags: UW Students, Classes

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Allen Centennial Garden
620 Babcock Drive
Madison WI 53706

Contact Info
Phone: 608-576-2501
E-mail: info@allencentennialgarden.org

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