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Mycelium, The Big Picture!
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Mycelium, The Big Picture!
Plant and Animal Relations : Mutualism
Medicinal Advantages of Mushrooms
MYCORESTORATION : Mycofiltration, Mycoremediation, Mycopesticides
Inoculation methods : spores, stem butts, bunker spawn
This is an electron scanning of the Mycelium of a mushroom.
Mycelium is said to be a more complex network than the internet. The Mycelium grows through the forest floor stretching as far as it can, and wraps its self around the roots of any plant it encounters. Mycelium has the ability to detect and process disturbances on the surface of the forest floor such as a foot step, a fallen tree branch, or a plant or animal resting or decomposing. Now what the Mycelium does with that information can only be speculated, but the most common idea is that the Mycelium uses this information to alert other sections of the network of a possible food source, or of possible dangers that could effect the livelihood of the Mycelium. This Network is not only used in communicating, but also as a transport of water and nutrients. As the Mycelium stretches to the far ends of the forest it also wraps around tree roots. The Mycelium produces antibacterial enzymes that protect the Mycelium; and by default the roots it is wrapped around from harmful bacteria. This network also is able to draw moisture and nutrients from the immediately surrounding soil, or transport it from one nutrient rich part of the soil to another less nutrient rich part, which could also start the healing and regrowth of a damaged part of the forest. So what does this mean? Basically if we found some way to tap into this network we could learn more about the complex ecosystems in the forest and make efforts to protect and heal them. Since mushrooms are the base in so many of our modern medicines, and vaccines, it is crucial that we support the natural environment in which they can grow and thrive. Protecting their natural ecosystems could also give us the opportunity to discover new species that could very likely have the missing link to a deadly disease vaccination, or cure.
experiment conducted by
Toshuyiki Nakagaki (2000) demonstrates the
abilities of Mycelium. In this experiment he placed a maze over a petri dish filled with nutrient rich agar (a product derived from seaweed used to solidify nutrified media for sterile tissue culture) and introduced nutritious oat flakes at an entrance and exit. He then inoculated the entrance with a culture of the slime mold
under steril conditions. As the Mycelium grew through the maze it consistently chose the shortest route to the oat flakes at the end, rejecting dead ends and empty exits, as well as splitting when presented with a choice of direction. This experiment is without a doubt amazing, and arguably demonstrates a form of intelligence.
Plant and Animal Relations : Mutualism
Here you can see a colony of ants cultivating and harvesting the mushrooms.
occurs when two or more organisms work directly together for their mutual benefit, usually to prevent infestation by parasites and to gather nutrients.
It is common to see insects such as termites and ants cultivating mushrooms. Both use Mycelium, and mushroom beds for incubation of their larvae. Since certain fungi function as natural bactericides and fungicides, some insects engage them as allies in an effort to counter infections from hostile bacteria and other fungi. Studies at Oregon state university (Currie et al. 2003) show that attine ants, which include leaf cutters, grow
Mycelium as hosts for a benign bacterium that produces an antibiotic against destructive microfungal parasites (
.), and they also feed
Mycelium to their larvae (Stamets P. 2005 Mycelium Running).
: Endophytes are primarily benevolent, nomycorrhizal fungi that partner with many plants, from grasses to trees.
Endophyte Mycelia thread between the cell wall but do not actually enter the cell, this enhances the plants ability to grow and absorb nutrients , while staving off parasites, infections, and avoiding attacks from insects, other fungi, and herbivores. Endophytes grow well in laboratory conditions but many naturally occurring Endophytes seem to have lost their ability to produce spores, and therefore mushrooms, and spend their life in a continuous Mycelial state. (Stamets 2005)
Here you can see the dark shadow of the endophyte that weaves but does not enter the cell wall.
Endophytes and Plants
"In a 2003 experiment in Panama, researchers found that when endophyte-free leaves from the chocolate-producing cocoa tree were inoculated with Endophytes, leaf necrosis and mortality declined threefold, suggesting a biodefensive effect is possible against the other pathogens such as
, the genus responsible for sudden oak death-a disease devastating California's native Oak population."(Arnold et al. 2003) Different species of these Endophytes can have other applications. For example the
species is a fungus qualified as an
(a thermally tolerant species that grows in harsh environments where life is hard to find) and allows some tolerance to drought and heat to the host plant. The effects of
spores on plants may expand the biological tool set for mycorestoration,
possibly even drastically expanding oasis environment and countering desertification
. (Stamets P. 2005) Some Endophyte fungi can become competitive with blight (a type of fungi that is parasitic and rots wood and lives off of the host) and overcome it. Pulverized mixtures of
(a compact mass of hardened Mycelium, with stored food) also known as chaga can be packed into infected trees to heal and eradicate the blight
Medicinal Advantages of Mushrooms
Here you can see the Mycelium "sweat" anti bacterial enzymes.
Mushrooms and Humans are similar in the way that we both need to fight off infection from bacteria, and parasites. Humans take the defensive and create antibodies to attack infections and bacteria after they are in our system, where as mushrooms take the offensive and produce a whole host of enzymes that ward off infection from bacteria, parasites, and other harmful fungi. With increasing pollution and disease it is imperative that we protect the natural habitats of these mushrooms in old growth forests, because not only will the Mycelial bed filter out pollutants but many of our medicines today have their roots in mushrooms.
Estimates are that two-thirds of our pharmaceuticals still originate from nature.
A few examples
Natural medicines such as taxol, discovered in the bark of Pacific yew trees, give chemists clues to manufacturing similar potent compounds for treating deadly diseases, including ovarian and other cancers. (Stamets P. 2005). Another example is Paul Stamets's discovery that an extract from the polypore mushroom
protects human blood cells from infection from orthopox viruses, the family that includes small pox. (Stamets 2005). Collins and Ng (1997) identified a polysaccharopeptide from turkey tail (
) mushrooms inhibiting HIV type 1 infection. Eo and others (1999,2000) found antiviral activity in the methanol-soluble fractions of reishi mushrooms (
) that selectively inhibit herpes simplex 1 and 2, and the vesicular stomatitus virus (VSV).
What is it about the Mycelium and the Mushroom it produces that causes these effects? The answer is NATURE every time! The cell surface of the Mycelium "sweats" out antibiotics that are known to scientists as
Useful antibiotics isolated in mushrooms include
from giant puff balls (C
from honey mushrooms (
from meadow mushrooms (
from inky caps (
from turkey tail mushrooms (
Trametes versicolor = coriolus versicolor
from shitakki (
from reishi (
from agarikon (
from cauliflower mushrooms (
).The fact that Mushrooms inhibit some bacteria but not others shows that Mycelium influences the makeup of microbial populations in its immediate ecosystem. (Stamets p. 2005). All of these medical benefits that are readily available to us through Mycelium makes it mandatory that we protect mushrooms and preserve their natural habitat. .
"With the increasing threat of bioterrorism-especially from viruses like small pox and bacteria like anthrax- protecting our fungal genetic diversity, especially in old-growth forests, is a matter of National
MYCORESTORATION : Mycofiltration, Mycoremediation, Mycopesticides
Mycorerestoration is the use of fungi to repair or restore the weakened immune systems of environments. Mycorerestoration involves using fungi to filter water (Mycofiltration), to enact ecoforestry policy(Mycoforestry), or co-cultivation with food crops (Mycogardening), to denature toxic wastes (Mycoremediation), and to control insect pests (Mycopesticides).
Mycofiltration is the use of Mycelium as a membrane for filtering out micro-organisms, pollutants, and silt. Mycelium forms this thread like network of
cells that weave within one another, this network, web, bed whatever you would like to call it catches particles and in some cases digest them. As the substrate (a supporting material on which Mycelium can grow) debris is digested, microcavities form and fill with air or water providing buoyant, aerobic
with vast surface area. The antibiotics and natural enzymes the Mycelium produces may not digest all of the pathogens that may be in the soil, but some bacteria such as
are blocked from reproducing and are forced into dormancy. For example Lovy and others (1999) found that Paul Stamets' polypore strain called zhu ling (
), was 100% effective in inhibiting the malarial parasite.
Animated picture of waste water being filtered through bunker spawn. Down stream you can see a happy environment additionally there are mushrooms popping out of the bunker spawn bags.
Some things to consider when setting up a Mycofilter:
To determine what species of mushroom to use, just look around your site and the answer could be right there! Resident species are the ones recommended by nature, the expert on this kind of thing. Considering the characteristics of the pathogens present is also important, does it appear seasonally or is it constantly active? Rain patterns have a major influence on the out flow rate of contaminated surface water. Around cattle and pig feedlots, the flow of coliforms, nitrates, and phosphorus affects the downstream watershed, especially during the local rainy season. By creating a sheet mulch, a shallow compost 6 inches to 2 feet thick, the Mycofiltration properties of the Mycelium and surface areas of the substrate particles will capture the microbial outflow. Mycological landscapes must be replenished with
materials, and spawn to preserve the saprophytic mushroom communities. The constant falling of tree branches and leaves in the forest not only stimulates and feeds saprophytic mushrooms, the very decomposition of these materials and mushrooms alike add depth, health, and nutrients to the soil.
Mycelial filters have many applications because they can filter pathogens including protozoa, bacteria, viruses, as well as silt and chemical toxins. Mycofilters can be set up in a number of locations such as; farms and suburban and urban areas, watersheds, factories, roads, and in stressed or harmed habitats. These Mycofilters can be customized into mosaics of Mycelial mats to prevent infection from
or staph bacteria and protozoa. These mats can even trap disease-carrying insects, thwarting diseases harmful to us by digesting the pathogens that pass through the cellular Mycelium net. Mycelium also has the amazing ability to mineralize substrates (to make minerals available by removing them from a tightly bound matrix like granite or stone) helps transform barren habitats filled with dry soil and rocks into nutrient rich environments where ecosystems can thrive
he use of fungi to degrade or remove toxins from the environment. Some fungi produce powerful enzymes that can digest lignin and cellulose, which are the primary structural components found in wood. These enzymes can break down a wide range of toxins that have chemical bonds similar to those in wood.
White rot fungi, which are more abundant and produce stronger enzymes are better to use for Mycoremediation. Some common white rotters include; The Oyster (
), Maitake (
), Turkey tail (
), Reishi (
), Artist conk (
), and the Crust fungus ( Phanerochaete chrysosporium).
Since many of the bonds that hold plant materials together are similar to the bonds found in petroleum products including diesel, oil, and many herbicides and pesticides, Mycelial enzymes are well suited for decomposing a wide spectrum of toxic chemicals.
Since the Mycelial enzymes break down the Hydrogen-Carbon bonds, the main non-solid byproducts leave the soil or mushroom in the form of water and carbon dioxide
. (Stamets 2005) The enzymes secreted by the White fungi group's Mycelia include lignin peroxides, manganese peroxides, and laccases. (Schlipake et al. 2003)
Mycelium for Detoxifying Soils
Since Mycelium is responsible for the flow of nutrients in an environment, all other life in that area are dependent on Mycelium to keep a balance or equilibrium to survive.
Once saprophytic mushrooms break the toxic barriers in the soil and provide a new layer of nutrient rich soil, a rush of synergistic animals rush in.
This new layer is possible because bacteria use the mushrooms as a nutrient source to their own growth, these microbes break down and digest the saprophytic mushrooms that then become the soil. Natural Spawn that has made contact with the microbes in the habitat have the best chance to carry out successful mycoremediation because of the pre-exposure to all of the variables of that specific environment that pure cultures produced in a lab would struggle with. Another method where mycoremediation can be used is in oil spills. Mycelium is inoculated onto human hair, which is then placed on the spill. The hair absorbs the oil and provides an organic substrate for the Mycelium to latch onto, from there the oil can be saprophytized by the Mycelium. Bioremediation and mycoremediation eliminate the expence incurred in removing thousands of tons of tainted soil to a remote toxic site that won't fix the problem just hide it.
The Washington State Department of Transportation Diesel Contaminated Maintenance Yard Experiment.
Paul Stamets conducted this experiment while working with Battelle; WSDOT operated a maintenance yard for trucks for more than 30 years. Diesel and oil contaminated the soil at levels approaching 2 percent, or 20,000 parts per million (ppm) of total aromatic hydrocarbons, or TAHs. Paul and the team from Battelle set aside 4 piles of diesel contaminated soil, placing them onto 4 large sheets of 6 mm black plastic polyethylene at the maintenance yard. Each pile measured about 3 to 4 feet in height, 20 feet in length, and 8 feet in width. Into one of the piles (measuring about 10 cubic yards), he mixed about three cubic yards of pure culture sawdust spawn, an amount roughly equal to 30 percent of the pile (the sawdust spawn was placed in layers which was tested to show better mycoremediation results). The other piles received no Mycelia. Of these piles 2 were given bacterial treatments and 1 was an untreated control. The Myceliated pile was covered with a shade cloth, while black plastic tarps covered the other piles to keep the rain out.
About 4 weeks later, part of the team returned to the site and pulled the black tarps off, only to reveal black lifeless dirt piles that stank of diesel and oil. Then they pulled of the shade cloth of the Myceliated pile only to be shocked! The Myceliated pile yielded hundreds of oyster mushrooms some of them measuring more than 12 inches in diameter (such an abundant crop is only seen where the nutrition is especially rich)
. This pile was now light brown covered with mushrooms and did not smell of diesel or oil. After nine weeks vascular plants had appeared and were thriving! Between weeks 4-9 the original oyster mushrooms had died and were digested by mycelium and turned into a new, healthy layer of soil that attracted insects, who then attract birds which means that potentially if let alone this pile could have created a new habitat for an array of animals.
Battelle researchers reported that the total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPHs) had been decreased from 20,000 ppm to less than 200 ppm in just 8 weeks, making the soil acceptable for freeway landscaping
. (Stamets 2005)
This the actual picture from their experiment. As you can see the Petroleum and diesel pile literally exploded with oyster mushrooms!
Heavy metal and chemical toxin remova
In the spirit of the WSDOT experiment above Paul Stamets and the team from Battelle ran with the idea of familiarizing mushroom strains to a nonnative wood substrate so that the mushroom Mycelium could adapt its enzymatic pathways early in its life cycles. They then expanded this model using toxins instead of wood as the added nutrients, so the Mycelium would essentially starve because its natural nutrient source was not available, and then absorb the toxin as a nutrient to survive. They were then able to customize strains to neutralize toxic weapons and wastes. In addition to that discovery they also found mushroom strains with enzymes for making and breaking phosphorus bonds (the critical bonds that hold nerve toxins together). Once the enzymes broke the phosphorus bonds, they believed the toxin would decompose into nontoxic forms, and this is exactly what happened with several of the provided strains.
US Patent Application 09/259,077
: This patent application is one of Paul Stamets' and uses codes to designate the most promising of His strains for mycoremediation. One of these active mushroom strains is a resident in the old-growth forest and his clone yielded a mycelium strain that denatured VX poison gas. He chose these phosphorus-metabolizing strains because many of the neurotoxic chemical warfare agents-which are similar to insecticides- contain phosphorylated compounds. When these bonds are broken through a process called dephosphorylation, the molecules of the nurotoxins unravel.
Many mushrooms absorb radio activity and some are even
which means they have a peculiar ability to take in and concentrate elements such as cesium at thousands of times above levels in the surrounding area. It is common for a toxic waste site to have multiple contaminants, and if heavy metals are present some mushrooms (hyperaccumulators) will concentrate them and make them toxic. Harvesting these mushrooms could gradually reduce cadmium
arsenic lead and even radioactive elements such as cesium-134, and 137 (common by-products of nuclear
and energy industry). It is easy to collect the toxins once they are inside the mushroom in solid form, from here you can take the metal/toxin laden mushrooms to a wast site where they can recycle and extract the metals.
Arica and fellow researchers (2003) applied mycoremediation to clean water leaching from heavy-metal contaminated soil; they used turkey tail and phoenix Mycelia to remove 97% of mercury ions from water. By combining the water with small beads composed of Mycelia, which selectively absorbs mercury, and a salt that speeds up the transfer of ions from the water to Mycelia called alginic acid.
The live Mycelium of some fungi produce organomercury lyases, enzymes that break down organomercury into HgO by mercuric reductase (Gadd 1993). Once separated, mercury can unimolecularily bond with selenium (another metal that mushrooms concentrate via upchanneling). Fungi can precipitate many metals around their Mycelia, such as silver, selenium, tellurite, cadmium, lead, and others.
Pesticides were invented to fight destructive insects and protect crops and structures. However, many of the chemicals used in pesticides, especially the organophosphates, harm non-targeted organisms, pollute water, and impair human health. The need for alternative, nontoxic pesticides is imperative, since the medical and ecological impact of toxic pesticides poses a cascading health hazard and a global threat. The search for ecologically rational methods to control insects has focused on biopesticides-nature based remedies that cause only negligible collateral damage, or none at all, to other organisms.
Nearly all insects engage, consume, or succumb to fungi. Not all fungi is insect friendly; thousands of species of fungi (called
) attack many insect species. Species in the genus
), a green mold fungus highly prevelant in soils; in the genus
); and some species in the genus
, hosting many white mold fungi, are the ones researchers focus on the most. When insects come into contact with spores from these entomopathogenic fungi, the spores attach to the insects, germinate, boring hyphal pegs through the insects' exoskeletons using chitin-dissolving enzymes. Once inside the insect the mycelium stretches its way through the internal organs, which interfears with the metabolism and causes malise, necrosis, and death. After just a few days the mycelium mummifies the insect from the inside out, as seen in the picture below. One species of
), when it infects a carpenter ant, compels the insect to climb to the canopy of the Costa Rican cloud forest where it resides. Once it has reached the top of the canopy the ant locks its jaw into a leaf and dies. Shortly after its death a
mushroom pops out of its head. As of now researchers do not know what chemical reaction causes this zombie walk to the canopy, but they do know that by reaching the canopy the mushroom is capable of releasing spores further because the wind will carry them unlike the mushrooms on the forest floor. Nature has built up a defense for possible wide spresd infection and death, because the survival of the colony depends on it. In groups of social insects, spore carrying workers are refused entry to the nest, with several layers of guards thwarting their efforts.(Stamets 2005)
Mummified carpenter ant. The ant ingested the Mycelium which grew and killed the ant from the inside out.
Carpenter ant that ascended to the canopy post infection of Cordyceps fungi, here the mushroom can spread its spores further given the aid of the wind, unlike its forest floor brothers.
Since the sense or smell of the spores on the insects prevents the entry back into the nest Paul Stamets figured that a way to throw off the guards would be to create a non sporulating state in
that does not have the repellent smell but contains an attractant and feeding stimulant. Since insects avoid known lethal spores, attracting them to presporulating insecticidal fungi has many advantages including, that the insects themselves become agents for dispersing the fungi throughout the colony
The damage, primarily to buildings, caused by native subterranean termites in the united states alone exceeds $10 billion per year, while the damage from imported Formosan termite exceeds $1 billion annually. Whole neighborhoods, and even entire cities such as New Orleans, are being consumed. That city loses $300 million per year to termites, with forecasts of greater damage as the colonies move further into the city. The market value of the pesticide industry in the united states has swelled to $9 billion; of that 5 percent or $450 million is from biopesticides. The biopesticide market share is increasing 15 percent per year. Several companies have expended a great deal of money to develop spore delivery systems but fumigating houses is no longer a viable option and contact pesticides are not efficient and have a very small likely hood of killing the queen. However, termites that contracted the Mycelium then recruits other individuals to travel into the presporulating Mycelium, who, in turn, solicited more members. The compounding effect of recruitment means that little Mycelium can go a long way, as opposed to contact poisons such as pyrethrins, which quickly kill the insects before they can return to the colony and therefore must be used in large amounts, but could still miss a few including the queen not solving the problem.(Stamets 2005)
Inoculation methods : spores, stem butts, bunker spawn
Spores : Collection and Application
Many species of mushrooms use insects to carry spores. When a beetle travels to another tree and burrows into its bark to lay eggs, the tree is inoculated. The emerging fungus provides the beetle's developing larvae with food. The tree softens as Mycelium grows into it, and soon woodpeckers arrive in search of grubs and insects attracted to the myceliated wood, and a new habitat is formed! mushroom spores can initiate satellite colonies of Mycelium, forming from a few feet to several hundred feet from their parental source. Many of airbourn fungal spores compete for the same habitat, which hampers any effort to cultivate a single species. We can collect these spores in various way to inoculate substrates and grow spawn.
There are many ways to collect spores such as from making a spore print, using a bag, collecting spores from air streams, and by re-hydrating dried mushrooms. Spore printing is the most common and the easiest to preform, this process consists of placing a non white gilled mushroom on a white piece of paper (if spores are white use colored paper) letting the spores drop overnight and scraping them in a bag, labeling it and setting it aside for future use. Some mushrooms cannot easily spore print on paper; for instance the morel and lion's mane mushrooms are architecturally different from classic button style mushrooms and expel spores in all directions. To catch these spores the bag technique is common; you must first enclose the mushrooms in a paper, wax paper, or plastic bag. For best results, it is
recommended to keep the mushroom upright, as it is nature, tenting it an upside-down bag so insects and other debris will fall out. Collecting spores from air streams is also used, in this method an air stream is provided to a sporulating mushroom into a chamber to collect the spores. The last method for collecting spores is from dried mushrooms; this is not recomended because it is more difficult, and sometimes the spores have a difficulty starting a culture as a result of the heat applied in the drying process. To release
the spores allow the mushroom to float in water to rinse all the spores off, then collect them from the water using a filter or piece of cotton.
Here you can see a spore print from a mushroom.
Once you have these spores there are several ways in which you can appily them to creat spawn, the most common methods used are making a spore salt, sugar broth, spores in oils, germination of cardboard, and germinating burlap. By creating the spore broth, or slurry you can easily soak any organic material in it to inoculate it with mushroom spores. The benefit of inoculating oils such as canola, corn, or safflower; is that you put spores in a medium that will cause the spores to stick to a surface preventing the spores from being washed or blown away. Paul Stamets developed a spore infused oil that can be used to
chain saws so that when one cuts down a tree some spores transfer to the tree stump facilitating a faster decomposition of the tree stump into soil. By germinating spores on soaked cardboard you can create a bed of germinating spores to start a mushroom garden, or add it to a burlap sack that can then be used as bunker spawn. Germinating spores on burlap is key to creating
. Once the burlap has reached a 25% fuzzy white Mycelial germination other inoculated items can be put into the burlap to make bunker spawn to filter out toxins; items inside the bag can range from inoculated dowels, stem butts, wood chips, grass, sawdust, and straw.
Stem butts are cut from about the volva on the diagram. The Mycelium continues to grow on a substrate while using the rest of the stem as nutrients.
Stem Butts :
Natural spawn can be generated from the basal rhizoporphs (the bottom of the stem where the "roots" or Mycelium is still attached) radiating around the stem's connection to the nurturing Mycelium. With many saprophytic mushrooms, stem butts, but not the areas above the stem base regrow with astonishing vigor when transplanted into wood chips, cardboard, or wooden dowels. You can create dozens of satellite colonies from the stem butts of mushrooms from a mother colony, by halving the initial colony to start another one you can
expand a patch of inoculated wood chips for as long as you wish and apply them where ever needed. (Stamets 2005)
Stem butts can be used to inoculate cardboard, wooden dowels (or wood chips). By cutting the butt end of the mushroom and placing it on soaked cardboard, and then incubating you can
quickly (3-5 weeks) create cardboard spawn. You can use each sheet of card board as a Mycelial footprint to inoculate an outdoor bed, stacked burlap sacks for bunker spawn, or you can place newspaper
sheets of cardboard and create your own mushroom garden. Using stem butts to Myceliate wooden dowels is
useful for packing inoculated burlap bags and then using them as
for Mycorestoration to detoxify bodies of water and soil! (see Mycorestoration section above)
Stem butt growing on saturated cardboard after 5 days.
When spawn is mixed into materials such as wood chips, and stuffed into burlap sacks ( made of jute, hemp, cotton, or wood fibers), a living "pod-with-a-purpose" is made. Using burlap bag spawn, homeowners can create Mycological landscapes in their back yards. On a larger scale, this type of spawn can help repair damage to ecosystems, and can create buffers between sensitive ecosystems and toxic environments. Immediately upon construction, these spawn bags filter biological or chemical wastes and prevent downstream contamination due to uncolonized wood chips' extensive surface areas and the absorptive abilities. As the Mycelium grows, its net like cells increasingly trap silt and bacteria, and the "sweat" of the Mycelium denatures many toxins, both chemical and biological.(Stamets 2005)
This is a picture of a Mycoboom. This burlap tube filled with inoculated straw, sawdust, and wood chips is floated just off shore and absorbs any oils or toxins, while decomposing into fertile soil reversing erosion.
Here you can see the burlap with fuzzy spots of Mycelium. Once the burlap has reached this point it can be filled with inoculated wooden dowels, wood chips, straw, or which ever organic mater you wish to fill your burlap bag with. Alternatively you can just lay down the burlap and cover with soil to promote garden health, counter erosion, and counter any harmful compounds that may be in the soil.
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