Carbon Dioxide Enrichment Through Decomposition
by Fungi Perfecti
by Tristan Woodsmith
Horticulturists have long understood the benefits of carbon dioxide (CO2) enrichment in greenhouses and indoor gardens, and CO2 can often be a limiting factor for plant growth. As CO2 concentration rises above ambient levels, net photosynthesis increases. This improves plant fitness and can increase production. For those who appreciate Kingdom Plantae as well as Fungi, it seems logical to harness the power of decomposition for CO2 enrichment - the way it happens in the forest.
As plants grow they absorb CO2, producing carbon-rich biomass. Fungi then decompose this material, liberating CO2 back into the environment. As with animals, it is a natural byproduct of their metabolism. For example, a Pearl Oyster Mushroom Patch™ can release up to 2.5 lbs of CO2, or roughly half its weight! This efficient, natural process is an effective and environmentally friendly means of increasing growth and production in your indoor garden.
If you aren't interested in growing mushrooms, then any Mushroom Patch can be used to add carbon dioxide to your garden. You can select a strain that is reluctant to form mushrooms at the temperature in the growing area (e.g. Maitake, or Blue Oyster.) Another low-maintenance solution is our Antler Reishi, which grows in a self-sufficient bag, requiring little care. If you do want to grow mushrooms, Shiitake and Oyster Mushrooms are both good candidates. Growers should note that these kits will require high humidity to produce mushrooms. The aggressive Oyster Patches begin producing mushrooms sooner than other kits and release CO2 most rapidly. They are therefore ideal for fast-growing or larger, blooming plants. Reishi, Turkey Tail, King Stropharia or Maitake decompose slowly, and can be used for smaller or slower growing plants that do not require as much CO2. Each patch will enrich a 4x4 area, and has the potential to produce a few pounds of mushrooms during its life span.
If you maintain a greenhouse, you can populate it with slower-growing mushroom species (or, if you have the skill set, inoculate your own mushroom bags or beds), giving the added benefit of additional CO2. The Garden Giant™ and Mycelium Running Oyster Patch work well for beds and companion planting. However, this is not ideal for indoor or hydroponic gardens, where cleanliness and sterility are paramount. With open-air or soil mushroom beds, the risk to your plants of microbial contamination is too great.
If you have any questions or would like further information, feel free to call or email, and we can discuss the ideal candidate for CO2 enrichment in your garden.
Tristan is an Equipment Specialist and Customer Service Representative for Fungi Perfecti, providing technical support for mushroom growing equipment and general cultivation advice since 2012. Tristan lives in Olympia Wa, and when he isn’t picking mushrooms, spends his free time gardening, brewing beer, and adventuring outdoors.