Grow truffles yourself - this is how you cultivate the mushroom specialty

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Grow truffles yourself - this is how you cultivate the mushroom specialty: this

Truffles are indispensable in the upscale kitchen. The delicious mushrooms - more precisely their fruiting bodies - bring a fine hazelnut aroma to many dishes, are processed in desserts and are extremely cost-intensive. About 50% of the world's most consumed truffles come from the breed and are not collected in nature. Also in Germany you can grow the mushrooms.

Forgotten sites and nature conservation

Truffles are traded at 200 to 600 euros per kilogram, in the organic segment, the delicious mushrooms may even be more expensive. However, almost all truffles eaten in Germany are imported - the cultivation of mushrooms is considered very complicated, and natural occurrences may not be collected in Germany. For a long time Germany was quite a truffle country. The locations of the particularly sought after Burgundy truffles, which can be used very well in the kitchen with their hazelnut flavor, were forgotten at some point between the last two world wars. And when they became interested in truffles in Germany at some point, they were untraceable. Therefore, the mushrooms are now under conservation and may not be collected or excavated for any other reason. With one exception: For research purposes, special permits are issued time and again.
So far, the mushrooms have not been well researched. It is known that in Germany different types of truffles occur in nature, which depend on the one hand on the altitude and the climate, on the other hand also on the soil condition. The mushrooms do not live alone, but enter into a symbiosis with a young tree. If they get along with the seedling, they get used to each other for about five to seven years. Only then does the fungus begin to form fruiting bodies. Why which fungus with which kind of tree enters into a symbiosis (and why it sometimes does not work) is still almost unknown.

Win-win situation for mushroom and tree

What many people do not know: each tree enters into a symbiosis with different fungi in its root system. The mushrooms form a fine network in the soil, which extends over many square kilometers and covers entire forests. Through this network, mushrooms help trees absorb nutrients and water. Conversely, the trees supply the mushrooms with carbohydrates, which the trees generate by means of photosynthesis and to which the fungi would otherwise have no access. A forest is thus always much more than the visible network of trunks, branches and foliage above the earth. Under the earth are the really important communities.
Trees do not just go with mushrooms from the truffle family of such communities. In question are many different types of mushrooms. When and why which tree with which fungus enters a marriage, one does not know exactly. But one knows that a grown-up tree does not make new communities, and that the fungus dies when the tree is felled. That applies to all such symbioses. Mushrooms that bind to trees in this way are also called mycorrhiza.

Truffle farming is afforestation

Grow truffles yourself

Truffle spurs are not so easy to come by in Germany. But they are needed to help young trees to live with the fungus. For truffle breeding seedlings are usually vaccinated with truffle spores, so that mushrooms can settle in the roots of the trees. This happens on a large scale, for example in Radolfzell on the truffle plantation of Ludger Sproll and Ulrich Stobbe. Sproll is a forest botanist and has a special permit to search for truffles and to analyze them for research purposes. A sample of the mushrooms that he finds is frozen - and what is left then, he can use for the plantation he built with Stobbe. Vaccinated trees and shrubs that are native to Germany:
  • different oak species
  • different types of beech
  • hazel
  • spruce
The used seed comes basically from Germany and usually from biological breeding. Or from the wilderness. The great effort is spent in Radolfzell, not only to settle regional truffles, but also to establish. In nature as in the market. Monocultures are undesirable, even in the nursery in Radolfzell variety prevails. The small trees grow together with the normally unwanted weeds in light-flooded and insect-buzzing halls, only a few spiders keep tree pests in check. That too is intentional because the mushrooms only feel well as long as the trees feel good. And they need natural diversity.
Who is interested in the cultivation of truffles, can order here no truffle spores, but only seedlings. It is therefore with every private truffle breed to build a piece of forest.And so that feels comfortable at the new location, it will be investigated, where exactly the trees are to be settled. The type of truffle vaccinations ultimately depends on the location.
Tip: Truffle farming needs patience!
It will take a few years for the trees to feel so good that the mushrooms in their root system can form fruit bodies and be harvested. During this time, all future truffle farmers must exercise patience. Since both the root system of the trees and the fine mesh of the mushrooms are very sensitive, one should do without test holes in the soil around the tree. Better for the search is a truffle search dog, which strikes only where there really is a ripe fruiting body in the ground.

Why dog ‚Äč‚Äčinstead of pig?

Grow truffles yourself

Pigs have an excellent nose and are superior to dogs in this regard. You can track down the fruit bodies of the truffles in the ground because they like to eat the mushrooms themselves. However, pigs are difficult to raise, rather slow and not so mobile. Therefore, they have since been replaced by well-behaved truffle dogs:
  • Dogs are easy to educate.
  • Dogs are agile and motile.
  • Dogs are playful and can be kept as family animals.
  • Dogs dig well and do little damage to tree and fungus.
  • Dogs do not eat truffles, but wait for their reward.
Such a truffle dog is for example the Lagotto, which looks a bit like a poodle. But other hunting dogs are also possible. Prerequisite is obedience, a good nose and enjoyment of challenges.

Special demands on the ground

Mushrooms are sensitive. If you think of mushrooms directly in mold, which settles pretty much everywhere, that may not be suspected: But truffle crops are very demanding in terms of the soil. They want calcareous soils that have a pH of more than 7. A value of 8 seems to be optimal. Truffles like it slightly alkaline, and the soil must be loose. Good ventilation is a prerequisite for healthy growth of tree and fungus. Tone-rich soils do not like truffles. The soil must not be too wet, because waterlogging does not tolerate the fungi. But they do not like dryness either. In Germany, burgundy truffles are usually grown because they get along very well with the climate, soil and the local trees. In general, however, other truffle species can be used in the garden.
Needle plants often leave the soil acidic, which is why truffles are rarely found near coniferous and mixed forests. A vegetation only with deciduous trees seems ideal, even if in Radolfzell spruce with truffle vaccine are offered. Climatically, truffles prefer locations with light ground frost, which always occurs only on short notice. Longer lasting minus temperatures in the double-digit range cause the fruiting bodies to die off, while minus single-digit temperatures promote the growth of the fruiting bodies.
It is generally said that truffles feel very good in the vicinity of aromatic herbs. This not only applies in the kitchen, but can also be considered as a rule of thumb for breeding in the garden: If the soil is suitable for the cultivation of tasty (and -fragrant) kitchen herbs, then truffles probably feel well there. The truffles must not stand too dry, especially their tree needs water. This is especially true in the phase immediately after planting.

The tree needs the right location

Grow truffles yourself

Trees as well as truffles need space to grow. In principle, a site should be selected that does the tree well. The distance to the next tree should be at least five meters in all directions. So tree and mushroom have enough space for the next few years and it does not have to be dug and transplanted. Because that would destroy the fine net that builds mushrooms in the ground. For the sake of the tree, an irrigation ring can be left directly around the tree and, of course, the tree is also watered immediately after planting. More is not necessary at first. The natural vegetation, which shares a habitat with tree and mushrooms, will come to life over the next few months and years.
Now you should make sure that the growth directly under the tree is not too dense and the soil is well ventilated. In the field, the latter should of course be given thanks to the organisms living in the soil, namely earthworms and relatives. Incidentally, the ideal time to grow the tree is autumn. In the spring, even before the first leaf drive, this can happen. A location with summer temperatures of about 17¬į C to 40¬į C and in winter a temperature cut of about -5¬į C is considered ideal for truffles and trees.
However, winter temperatures should not be lower, mushrooms do not like it. Especially successful are mixed cultures of different deciduous trees, which were inoculated with the truffle spores. However, hazelnut shrubs are associated with a much higher workload: the soil around these shrubs must be cleaned in autumn.Falling leaves and branches acidify the soil, something the truffles do not like.

Truffles grow slowly

If the roots of the young tree have been vaccinated with truffle spores, the fungus will form a fine network of hyphae in the coming months and years. This is the so-called mycelium. Five years will pass before the first truffles can be harvested, because the mushroom takes a long time to really form fruiting bodies. The best harvest time for the mushrooms is somewhere between autumn and winter. Depending on climate, soil and current weather conditions, it can extend from July to February of the following year. During all these months, the fungus underground again and again fruiting bodies, which can be harvested.
Whether there are ripe truffles under the ground, the truffle dog determines. If you do not have such a trained dog, you can carefully remove the upper layers of the earth yourself by hand and look it up:
  • Do not use blades or other equipment!
  • Gently loosen the soil with gloved fingers!
  • Only move the upper layers of the earth!
  • The earth again and again push back carefully!
The procedure is sometimes reminiscent of archaeological excavations, which also proceed with great sensitivity and, above all, slowly. Depending on the harvest, a tree of normal to stately size can be expected to contain about one kilogram of truffles.
Tip for the kitchen: Not every truffle is one too.

Grow truffles yourself

The truffle or truffles (as the German language is not unique) is actually a very special kind of mushroom and basically grows underground. In the vernacular and in general in the kitchen but other mushrooms, which are not even remotely related to the genuine truffles, referred to as such. Sometimes this even applies to above-ground fungi or to those known as tree pests. But that's not the point here, only the real truffles are interesting for growing in the garden. For the kitchen, however, other mushrooms can be used that are sold as truffles and may be much less expensive.

Better no competition!

Since young trees and their truffles have not yet really connected, the seedlings should rather be planted at a sufficient distance to deciduous and mixed forests. Because every tree, every forest has its own mushroom culture, which of course also integrates young trees and forms a symbiosis with them. This competition is not good and can let a not yet fixed tree forget its vaccination. Fruit trees, on the other hand, are not dangerous because they live together with completely different fungal cultures than the typical truffle trees.

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